A life long interest in spotting and encouraging musical talents has resulted in remarkable achievements for musicians under the eye of Roger Williams. His contributions in this regard were featured in the March 2017 issue of CMQ. (With permission, the article is repeated here.)
Often, behind the scenes devoted people discover these servants and encourage them to undertake such callings. Today’s spotlight shines on Roger Williams, one of these doyens.
He was born Friday 25 October 1940 in Christchurch, NZ, to a musical father and a pianist mother. This meant, regular family sing-songs around the piano, as was the custom in most households in those days, and led to a strong connection to church music.
Piano tuition began at 8 years together with choirboy treble duties for Holy Trinity Avonside Church. By 14 he was playing for hymns at St Francis Sunday School. Organ lessons began under George Martin at 18 and coincided with his appointment slightly earlier as Organist at Burwood Anglican Church. He gained his ATCL in 1963. Other appointments followed in diverse locations, such as Wellington’s St Mary’s in Karori, and Nelson Cathedral, as a result of his educational career serving in the role of a vocational guidance officer.
These gave him a unique platform so he could contribute to music, the church and the RSCM by way of his discovering, sponsoring, and encouraging young musicians. Of the many outstanding protegees now holding iconic positions, Michael Stewart, Organist and Director of Music at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, Music Director of The Tudor Consort, and Deputy Music Director of the New Zealand Youth Choir, comments:
“My musical training began when I started as a chorister at Christ Church Cathedral, Nelson, when I was 12 years old. Very shortly after starting I became hooked on the sound of the pipe organ. Roger Williams encouraged me to learn the instrument, and nurtured this interest into a love for organ and choral music, just like he has done with many other young musicians. This first experience of making music on the organ led me to a career as a professional musician, for which I am truly thankful.”