The Royal College of Music (RCM) has announced the appointment of James Williams as its next Director, effective from 1 September 2024. James will succeed the current Director, Professor Colin Lawson CBE, who will retire from the position at the end of August 2024.
James Williams currently serves as the Managing Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), a role he has held since June 2016. During his tenure, he successfully established a new partnership between the RPO and the Royal Albert Hall, secured a new home for the Orchestra at Wembley Park, and oversaw extensive international tours, including notable performances in Asia, Europe, and the USA. Prior to joining the RPO, James worked with the Philharmonia Orchestra for eight years, where he was responsible for the Orchestra's concert and commercial programs in the UK, collaborating with renowned conductors such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Lorin Mazel, and Vladimir Ashkenazy. He also spearheaded various audience development and digital initiatives, including iOrchestra, which introduced orchestral music to over 200,000 people in the South West of England.
With a strong background in music education, James previously served as the Programming Manager at the Royal Northern College of Music for five years and managed a regional branch of the Yehudi Menuhin music education program called Live Music Now. He currently holds voluntary board positions with Metroland Cultures and the music charity Mayfield Valley Arts Trust. James is also a member of the RCM Council and serves on the board of the Association of British Orchestras.
Regarding his appointment, James Williams expressed his gratitude, stating, "I am deeply honored to lead the Royal College of Music into its next phase of development. I aim to build upon the remarkable achievements thus far, while upholding the College's founding principles and dedication to widening access, advocating for the value of music education, and maintaining the RCM's unparalleled reputation for artistic excellence."
Lord Guy Black, Chairman of the Council of the Royal College of Music since 2017, expressed his enthusiasm about James Williams joining as the new Director, highlighting James's respected position in the music industry, his global perspective, and his extensive knowledge of the music profession. Lord Black believes that James's expertise will greatly benefit the students and further enhance the RCM's international reputation as a world-leading music educator, preparing students for successful careers worldwide.
Professor Colin Lawson, the current Director of the Royal College of Music, extended his well wishes to James Williams and expressed his anticipation for working together in the upcoming months to ensure a smooth transition. He described serving as the Director for nearly twenty years as an immense privilege.
As a friend of the College of Music, Opera Culture congratulates James Williams on his new appointment and wishes him the very best and continued success.