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James Williams announced as the next Director of the Royal College of Music

Thursday 6 July 2023

The Royal College of Music (RCM) is delighted to announce that James Williams has been appointed as its next Director and will take up the post on 1 September 2024. James will become the 11th Director of the Royal College of Music, succeeding current Director, Professor Colin Lawson CBE, who will retire from the role at the end of August 2024.

James Williams is Managing Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), a position he has held since June 2016. During this time, he secured a new Associate Orchestra partnership between the RPO and the Royal Albert Hall; established a new home for the Orchestra at Wembley Park; and oversaw an international touring schedule that has involved the RPO performing across the world, including major tours of Asia, Europe and the USA. Prior to this, James spent eight years at the Philharmonia Orchestra, responsible for the Orchestra’s UK concert and commercial programmes working with conductors including Esa-Pekka Salonen, Lorin Maazel and Vladimir Ashkenazy. Additionally, James led several major audience development and digital programmes including iOrchestra, a virtual project which introduced orchestral music to over 200,000 people in the South West of England.

With a background in music education, James’ former positions include five years working at the Royal Northern College of Music as Programming Manager and a period running a regional branch of the inspiring Yehudi Menuhin music education programme Live Music Now. He now holds voluntary Board positions with Metroland Cultures and music charity Mayfield Valley Arts Trust, is a member of the RCM Council and a Board member of the Association of British Orchestras. In addition, he was recently a music advisor for the Coronation Service for King Charles.

James Williams comments: ‘It is a great honour to lead the Royal College of Music into the next chapter of its development, building on the incredible successes to date and honouring the College’s founding principles and commitment to its students for widening access, advocating strongly for the value of music education and upholding the RCM’s unrivalled reputation for artistic excellence.’  

Lord Guy Black, Chairman of the Council of the Royal College of Music since 2017, comments: ‘We are delighted and excited to have James Williams join us as the next Director of the Royal College of Music. James is a much-respected member of the music industry and his expertise, global outlook and knowledge of the music profession will be of huge benefit to our students and the RCM’s international reputation. I am confident James will support the RCM community and continue our outstanding work as a world-leading music educator, preparing our students for successful careers across the world.’ 

Professor Colin Lawson, current Director of the Royal College of Music, comments: ‘I wish James every success and look forward to working with him in the coming months to ensure a seamless transition. It remains an enormous privilege to serve the RCM as Director, a role I will have fulfilled for almost 20 years.’

This news item appears in the 2023 Autumn edition of Upbeat magazine.

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