William Haviland

pianist/composer and Musicnotes Signature Artist

United Kingdom

Author

About

William Haviland, is a pianist/composer and Musicnotes Signature Artist. His style is probably best described as a fusion of pop and classical music. Originally from the UK, he is currently living in South Korea. William studied Classical Music in London, but since then has strayed a little from the confines of the score. His musical heroes include Chopin, Ravel, Elton John, Paul Simon, John Williams, and Keith Jarrett. He is especially fond of the body of work found in the ‘Great American Songbook’. William’s early tuition was at the Blackheath Conservatoire, and subsequently he accepted an offer to read Music at King’s College London. Since graduation, he has worked as a teacher, performer, and recording artist. William is also an avid YouTuber, mostly of pop covers and classical re-imaginings

Videos

Sheets

Interview

What does music mean to you personally?

Music is a way we can all connect with each other as humans; language does not do this universally, but sound can.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

To some extent, because it is imagination, and freedom.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

I am also a teacher! These two things aside, I would have liked very much to be a writer, or creator of some sort. I admire enormously those individuals who are good working with their hands.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

Not at all. It depends I suppose what one considers as classical. To me, all the great film scores are classical works, which means we have Williams, Horner, Morricone, and so on. So, I think the music continues to evolve, and to live. And I think audiences similarly.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

Music to me is entertainment, and escapism. Traditionally it was more functional [ceremonial, church etc.] but I would envisage it will continue to entertain.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

That is a good question! I think to some extent we are seeing a loss of genuine creativity, because of the way we consume music in the 21st century. I’m quite sure that, along with many fellow music makers out there, I am aware of the power of streaming sites, and of the need to obtain some recognition on them; in that sense, perhaps many of us are rescinding elements of musical expression, and replacing that with something a little safer that might be picked up? Just my opinion. I think the contemporary musician certainly has a lot of skills they need to master, but also a great many opportunities that did not exist until recently. In terms of creativity in my own process, I’m happiest when just sitting down at the keyboard and messing around with ideas. That is the creative part. And it isn’t strictly a regular thing – I can’t schedule creativity. It’s when it grabs me, and I’m in the mood. All of the good ideas, I’ve had in this way... when just sitting down and messing around.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

At the time of writing, of course concerts are restricted because of COVID. I think classical music especially has a slight image problem – it is perceived to be snobbish. I don’t think it is, but there is this perception. Can musicians do something to attract the younger generation? I think, just make good music! And make the concert experience fun. And many artists are doing this extremely well.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

Another good question! As I mentioned, my creative process is really simply a matter of sitting down and just messing around with chords, melodic fragments, etc. If something presents itself that is interesting, I will write it down or record it, to come back to later. Those are the moments I really enjoy my work. Favorite piece? There are a couple of tracks I wrote in 2020 which I’m very proud of. The first is Satie, which is a pastiche composition in honour of the French composer. When I listen back to that, I feel that I made something simple, but as a continuation of the original. I’m very interested in homage/pastiche. If you mean strictly an original work, I particularly like a piece called Ciel Gris. I think it is quite atmospheric, and evokes the grey sky that I saw that morning, and which inspired me to write it.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

We are living in unparalled times, wherein most of us [with an Internet connection!] can access almost all the musical history of the Earth. This has never before been the case. I could only recommend to the young: listen to as much music as you can. Explore the wonderful range that there is out there. Also, do not berate yourself if you fail to appreciate something that is commonly considered good. We all have tastes. If a genre/composer does not grab you, do not worry about it. Consider them as cuisine: I for instance do not like sushi. It does not mean sushi is not delicious, but neither does it mean that I have no taste. We are just all different. Find what grabs you, what you can connect with. That is all that matters.

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Perhaps on occasion, I am thinking of the streaming potential!

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

I’m just about to move house, and so things are going to wind down for a couple of weeks. This year there are a few plans that I want to work on: A movie OST album A singles collection, thus far A pastiche album, with the accompanying classical originals What I really want to start this year is a non-piano, electronica/ambient musical side project. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but never gotten around to.