Dr. Geoffrey Williams, the founder of the acclaimed vocal ensemble New York Polyphony, is the new Assistant Professor of Church Music and Director of Chapel Music at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin. Williams holds a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Illinois and is also a graduate of Westminster Choir College. He is a specialist in early music, and is in demand as a conductor, teacher and singer throughout the United States and abroad.
Williams founded New York Polyphony, a four-voice male acapella ensemble, in 2006, and performs as the group’s countertenor. They perform a wide range of vocal works, but have a specialty for performing rare and rediscovered Renaissance and medieval compositions. National Public Radio praised New York Polyphony for having “a rich, natural sound that’s larger and more complex than the sum of its parts,” and the ensemble’s albums were nominated for the Grammy award in 2013 and 2014.
The ensemble’s latest album, “Peñalosa – Lamentationes,” is being released tomorrow. It features the world premier of settings by Francisco de Peñalosa of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, a set of Biblical texts used in the Tenebrae rite during Holy Week, as well as movements of his Missa L’homme arme and several motets by contemporary composers Pedro de Escobar, and Francisco Guerrero. The album’s liner notes describe the selections as examples of “the rich and varied output of Iberian polyphonists that remains unfairly overlooked.” Nashotah House plans to celebrate the event with a release party on September 15, with all proceeds from album sales supporting the seminary’s choral scholars program.
In addition to his work as a teacher and concert performer, Williams has shared his musical gifts in several of the Episcopal Church’s most distinguished music programs. His experience has included work at Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church (Champaign, IL), St. Mary the Virgin, Times Square (New York), Trinity Church (Princeton), and Washington National Cathedral. He was also a Gentleman of the Choir of Men and Boys at Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue (New York). He also has a first-hand knowledge of the clerical vocation, as the son of a priest who is a Nashotah House alumnus. Williams himself was actually born while his father was a seminarian there, and was baptized at Nashotah’s Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin.
Dr. Garwood Anderson, Nashotah House’s Dean and President said he rejoiced in Williams’ appointment: “We could not be more pleased to add a church musician of Dr. Williams’s caliber to our faculty. For us, music is not ornamental to liturgy, but part and parcel of it. It would be hard to imagine a person more exquisitely prepared than Geoffrey to build on our rich musical heritage and to lead us into new vistas.”