John R. Williams

Composer, Arranger, Pianist, Educator, Choral Conductor, Artistic Director, Recording Artist

John R. Williams is a composer and musician based in Vancouver, Canada. His music training began at the Vancouver Academy of Music, where he studied piano and music theory from the ages of five through seventeen. After developing a love for choral music in high school and singing in provincial honour choirs, John went on to study choral conducting with James Fankhauser at UBC, while also singing in the University Singers and then the Vancouver Cantata Singers. John is a crossover musician who loves various styles of music, from classical to jazz, and folk to gospel and contemporary choral, and draws upon them in his compositional palate. He pursued jazz studies in Montreal at Concordia University and sang with Choeur de chambre Tactus, before later going on as a scholarship graduate student to complete a Master’s of Music in Choral Conducting at the University of Washington, with Geoffrey Boers.

John directed a mass choir in Montreal for a number of years, with singers from twenty-one churches in the greater Montreal area, writing original music for annual Easter celebrations. He then moved back to the west coast, accepting the position of Head of Music at Brentwood College on Vancouver Island, where he taught choir, jazz choir, musical theatre, voice, and piano.  He has also taught and directed choirs at Douglas College.  He has been the director of music in a number of churches over the past two decades, drawing regularly all the while upon his gifts in arranging and composition.  John directed the music and arts program at Tenth Church in Vancouver for many years, composing numerous works for choir and ensembles of various kinds, sometimes with strings, at other times including rhythm section and brass. He has designed and directed large-scale events involving over seventy performers with attendance of over 3500 people. A skilled artistic director, he has collaborated with many visual artists, actors, photographers, and dancers. 

John’s first album is entitled Shades of Green, released in 1997, a collection of quartets, trios, duets, and solos, of his early compositions. Soon after its release, the album was featured on CBC radio, and has since had airplay internationally with CBC and other networks. He has just released a second album, brand new, entitled Miracle: an album of choral works composed and directed by John, that features many of the top choral singers in the Vancouver area. Several of the works include strings, and the opening work features a sitar. The recording engineers for Miracle are Don Harder and Brian Chan, known as forefront sound engineers in Vancouver and with the CBC, and the mastering is by the longtime esteemed engineer with the CBC, Grant Rowledge.  

John resides in Vancouver with his wife Dorothy and their two daughters and son. He enjoys hiking in the local mountains, and kayaking in the Gulf Islands. He can be reached at