The Burchfield Penney Art Center will celebrate the 75th birthday of legendary percussionist, composer, and conductor Jan Williams with a special tribute concert Wednesday, July 16, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium.
Williams will conduct many of his former students in a performance of Edgard Varèse's iconic percussion composition, Ionization.
Born July 17, 1939, in Utica, New York, Williams earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in music at Manhattan School of Music where he studied percussion with Paul Price. From 1962 to 1964, he was a member of the famed American Symphony Orchestra under conductor Leopold Stokowski.
In 1964, Williams was selected as one of the first class of creative associates for the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts at the University at Buffalo. He remained at UB, where he created the Percussion Ensemble and served as chair of the Music Department from 1981 to 1984, until his retirement in 1996. Williams also served as artistic director of the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts from 1974 to 1979 and as its resident conductor from 1976 to 1980. He co-directed, with Yvar Mikhashoff, the North American New Music Festival from 1983 to 1991.
Williams has performed as solo percussionist with orchestras in Paris, Berlin, Israel, Detroit, New York, and Copenhagen and appeated internationally as percussionist, conductor, and instructor. Noted composers John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, and Morton Feldman, to name just a few, have written works for him. His playing and conducting has been captured on at least three dozen commercial recordings and hundreds of archival recordings.
Admission is free for Burchfield Penney members and $5 for "not yet" members.