Tim Watts

The Art of Improvisation

Tim Watts (b.1979) combines careers as composer, pianist and teacher. Much of his output engages with text and theatre, including the recent opera, Kepler’s Trial, which was described as ‘musically and dramatically compelling’ at its 2017 production at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s opera exhibition. He has recently spent two years as artist-in-residence at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, during which time he composed several further astronomically inspired pieces: a series of Kepler-Motets commissioned by the University of Tübingen for the Gesualdo Six, an anthem, The Ordinances of Heaven for Ely Cathedral’s Science Festival, Starfruit commissioned for the Berkeley Ensemble at the 2019 King’s Lynn Festival, and A World in the Moone for Iestyn Davies and the Britten Sinfonia. His catalogue includes orchestral works commissioned for the European Union Chamber Orchestra and Southbank Sinfonia, and a wealth of chamber, vocal and choral music.
Tim is a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, and a professor at the Royal College of Music. He studied composition with Jeffery Wilson, Hugh Wood and Robin Holloway and trained as an accompanist at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was supported by an award from The Countess of Munster Musical Trust.


Improvisation practice

Tim has worked as an improvising pianist for dance classes and theatre productions. He is an experienced participant in and leader of ensemble improvisations in a variety of educational contexts, most recently through exploration of the work of Pauline Oliveros and the concept of sonic meditation. For Tim, messing around at the piano often forms a starting point for composition.