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Cordelia Williams


18 Nov 2023
Robert Schumann
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54

“Extraordinary.” (Gramophone, 2021). Polish-Welsh-English pianist Cordelia Williams is recognised for the poetry, conviction and inner strength of her playing and the depth of her interpretations. She has performed all over the world, including concertos with the English Chamber Orchestra (in Mexico City), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (at Barbican Hall, London), as well as recitals at Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall and Beijing Concert Hall. She broadcasts regularly for BBC Radio 3.

Cordelia has become particularly known for her remarkable understanding of the music of Schubert and Schumann. Her recordings to date have focused on both these composers, as well as a 2018 album interweaving the music of Bach and Arvo Pärt: “a superb concept… brilliantly realised” (International Piano, 2019). Her 2021 album Nightlight received rave reviews across the board and was awarded Critics' Choice by International Piano and Recording of the Year by MusicWeb International. “Williams finds astonishing beauty in these pieces that had me shaking my head in wonder. Consummate artistry... touching real greatness.” (MusicWeb International, 2021). Cascade was released in September 2023: “alluring” (Sunday Times); “defiantly original, boldly expressive, a myriad of colours” (All About the Arts, 2023). She enjoys introducing the music she plays, as well as using imaginative programming to shed new light on well-known works and to tell new stories.

Cordelia is dedicated to forming unusual collaborations and creating innovative projects with other musicians and across disciplines. Alongside her performing career she gained a First in Theology from Clare College, Cambridge; her curiosity towards humanity and faith led to her year-long project, Between Heaven and the Clouds: Messiaen 2015. In partnership with award-winning poet Michael Symmons Roberts, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Rowan Williams and artist Sophie Hacker, this ambitious series of events and performances explored the music and context of Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus. Cordelia is currently developing two unique cross-discipline collaborations which will reach the stage in 2024, as well as a large-scale project focusing on Joy. She also enjoys a flourishing duo partnership with violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen.

A former Piano Winner of BBC Young Musician of the Year, Cordelia welcomed her first son in 2017, who has accompanied her on several concert tours and was joined by a brother in 2019. Her first book, The Happy Music Play Book, was published in 2021 and received Book of the Year at the Presto Music Awards. It is written for parents of young children who, like her, want to make music a joyful part of everyday family life. In 2021 Cordelia spent time performing, teaching and filming in Kenya. Her documentary-film On Being a Pianist in Kenya (available on YouTube) explores the challenges facing young aspiring classical musicians in Nairobi; one of the pianists Cordelia mentors has since taken up a scholarship at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (the first Kenyan to study piano at European conservatoire). Together they feature on a Radio 4 series this October, called How to Spot Potential. Cordelia can be found on YouTube at where she shares practice insights and videos about performing life. (November 2023)

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