Dr Kathryn Williams | PRiSM Post-Doctoral Research Associate Appointed

Dr Kathryn Williams joined RNCM PRiSM to explore the interplay between indoor air quality, technology and musicians’ health and wellbeing through creative musical practice.

25 March 2024

Multi-disciplinary researcher, flutist and composer Dr Kathryn Williams joins the PRiSM team to undergo collaborative research with Dr Bofan Ma (PRiSM Post-Doctoral Research Associate).

This collaboration focuses on ‘Coming Up for Air in Rossendale’, a project connecting creative musical practice, accessible technology, and the interplay between eco-friendly sustainable performing arts infrastructure and musicians’ health and wellbeing.

Williams and Ma will build collaborations with researchers and organisations working in the fields of digital transformation, green innovation, and smart technology in the Rossendale Valley and across the Northwest England.

The project will also see them deliver workshops at local primary schools, to raise awareness of indoor air quality through participatory music-making using accessible musical instruments.

The initial six-month phase of the work will culminate in a performance-led, multi-sensory installation at the Horse + Bamboo Theatre in Rossendale, Lancashire.

Incorporating the state-of-the-art indoor air-quality monitoring system installed in their main performance space, developed by award-winning technology solutions provider IoT Horizon, the artwork will be premiered at Horse + Bamboo as part of their annual Waterfoot Wakes Festival, 12-21 July 2024.

Throughout the course of the project, members from the local communities, artists and creative practitioners, scientists, technologists and musical educators will be invited to engage openly and critically in dialogues with each other, as well as to collectively inform strategic plans and actions going forward.

Dr Kathryn Williams. Photograph by Betsa Collins.

“I’m thrilled to join PRiSM to collaborate with Bofan on what started as my solo project, Coming Up for Air, which measured what could be composed in a single breath. Together, we aim to explore the composition of the air around us and its connection to musician’ wellbeing and artistic expression.” Dr Kathryn Williams

“It’s important, now more so than ever, to take a closer look on the invisible particles making up the air all around us. I’m really excited to join Kathryn as part of this meaningful collaboration, and to make sense of what and who has been changing our air – through our own ways as artist-researchers.” — Dr Bofan Ma

Kathryn Williams Biography

Kathryn attended the RNCM between 2007-2015, earning a BMus, MMus, and International Artist Diploma. She attended the University of Huddersfield for her PhD, which centred around the visibility of breathing in flute performance practice and composition through making tangible connections between instrument and body, interrogating ideas around accessibility and physical limitation.

Her current project, Coming Up for Air, creatively addresses overcoming her experiences of chronic respiratory conditions through inviting composers of all ages and experience levels to write a piece limited to a single breath.

Described as “ingeneously inventive” (TEMPO), the project contains over 100 works, and it has been performed internationally (including Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music in Australia, Constellation in Chicago, Kammer Klang at Cafe OTO, Deep Minimalism 2.0 at the Southbank Centre; Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Royaumont Abbey in France, Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo).

40 works from the Coming Up for Air collection have been released on Huddersfield Contemporary Records, distributed by NMC. The collection is currently being transformed into a concerto by composer Larry Goves for Kathryn to perform as soloist with the Luxembourg Philharmonic in November 2024 as part of the Rainy Days Festival.

As a composer, Kathryn has been commissioned by Cyborg Soloists, a UKRI-funded Future Leaders Fellowship project led by Director and Principal Investigator Dr Zubin Kanga (2023).

She collaborated with Megan Steinberg and Sonia Allori through RNCM and Drake Music to present ‘This is happening’ for flute and Electronic Wind Instrument for the Lucy Hale Day of Music, Disability and Technology (2023).

Kathryn is a member of contemporary music ensemble House of Bedlam and freelances with orchestras across the UK.

As a passionate campaigner for legislative and cultural changes to make music workplaces safer and more equitable, Kathryn worked for the Independent Society of Musicians, including co-authoring ‘Dignity at Work 2: Discrimination in the Music Sector‘, which reported on the experiences of nearly 700 musicians. It was referenced extensively in the recent ‘Women and Equalities Committee Misogyny in Music‘ report, published by the UK Parliament, January 2024.