Bill Gilliam is a composer who has spent most of his musical life exploring the boundaries between new music, electro-acoustic music and contemporary jazz. He has worked and performed with many experimental artists of like mind in the areas of film, dance, theatre and sound poetry and continues to create compositions for new music chamber performance ensembles.
Bill was born in London, England and moved to Toronto after completing his studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1981. In Canada he studied new music composition with Dr Samuel Dolin, Alexina Louie, Norma Beecroft and Alexander Rapoport at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and wrote several scores for film, dance and theatre including collaborations with experimental film makers Bruce Elder, Bruce McDonald and choreographers Philip Drube, Maxine Heppner and Marie-Josée Chartier. Bill participated in ARRAYMUSIC‘s first young composer workshop and in 1988 he received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council to attend the Inter Arts program at the Banff Centre of Fine Arts to develop a multi-media work using interactive music technology. In 1990 he received a grant from the Canada Council to produce an electro-acoustic music album “Cyclic Dancing” distributed by the Canadian Music Centre.
Bill‘s music has been performed many times at the Music Gallery in Toronto including his concert “Burning Ambitions” (1994) of his new music compositions for violin, tape, percussion, piano, cello and string quartet, as well as concerts for saxophone, percussion and live electro-acoustic performance pieces.
In 1998 he received funding from the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records (FACTOR) to produce his first contemporary jazz CD “Urban Undercurrents” and in 2000 he was awarded an Ontario Arts Council grant to record his second contemporary jazz CD “Spirit Matter.”
Using palettes of hand crafted sample sounds and keyboards, Bill has improvised with performance artists such as clarinetists Lori Freedman, Ronda Rindone, sound poet Penn Kemp, actor Anne Anglin, percussionist Richard Sacks and performed electro-acoustic solos at the 2001 Ought One Music Festival in Montpelier, Vermont, sponsored by the Kalvos & Damian New Music Bazaar radio show.
In 2003 Bill performed his solo electro-acoustic keyboard music and had his new music compositions for flute, tape, piano and percussion performed in his “Solos & Duets” concert sponsored by the Music Gallery. Bill‘s music was featured at the 2003 Toronto Distillery Jazz Festival and with the improvisation ensemble “Soundspoke” at the 2004 Distillery Jazz Festival spoken word series.
In November 2004 Bill‘s String Quartet No. 2 was presented by the Canadian Contemporary Music Workshop at the Music Gallery.
in 2005, Bill‘s suite of three new compositions for voice, clarinet, french horn, bassoon, cello, and percussion exploring the theme of deception were performed at the same venue. This concert of Bill‘s new music and electro-acoustic works featured the setting of poems by Penn Kemp and Bill Gilliam as well as compositions by Colleen Ostoforoff.
For Toronto’s 2007 “Nuite Blanche” all-night art event, Bill’s compositions were featured in a continuous 45 minute multi-media installation called “Memory Vision” at the Canadian Music Centre in collaboration with visual artists Gera Dillon, Luke Gilliam and Arnold Wytenburg.
In 2008 and 2009, Bill received grants from the Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council to compose a suite of compositions for multi-media show called "Poems from a Love Triangle", a forty five minute new music and poetry performance staged as a “radio drama” for actor, mezzo soprano, flute, clarinet, piano and percussion at the Music Gallery, May 2009.