Bill Gilliam is a composer, pianist who has spent most of his musical life exploring the boundaries between new music, improvisation, electro-acoustic music and contemporary jazz. He has collaborated and performed with many experimental artists of like mind in the areas of music, improvisation, 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.
In 1994 Bill produced his concert “Burning Ambitions” (1994) at the Music Gallery including his new music compositions for violin, tape, percussion, piano, cello and string quartet;
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 produced his “Deceptive Moves” concert at the Music Gallery, where his suite of three new music compositions for mezzo soprano, clarinet, french horn, bassoon, cello, and percussion and electro acoustics exploring the theme of deception were performed. This concert also featured the setting of poems by Penn Kemp, 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 and produce a 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.
Bill collaborated with percussionist Charlie Ringas on their joint project “Signposts” with music for prepared piano and percussion with spoken word. They performed “Signposts” at Gallery 345 in Toronto in 2010, 2011 and “Leap In The Dark” in 2012. Since 2010 Bill has continued each year to present his collaborative projects at Gallery 345 featuring actors, visual designers, poets, spoken word performers, new music works and improvisation.
In 2012 Bill recorded and release his solo piano CD “Ensorcell” and in 2017 released “Entangled Pathways” featuring Bill Gilliam (piano), Kayla Milmine (soprano) and Ambrose Pottie (drums).
In June 2018 Bill performed at the TD Toronto Jazz Festival with his experimental jazz trio Gilliam, Milmine, Pottie. In September 2018 he conducted and performed with the London Improvisors Orchestra at Iklectic, London, England and also performed improvised music at Koerner Hall in Toronto with jazz flautist Bill McBirnie. The Gilliam. Milmine, Pottie trio performed at the June 2019 Something Else! Festival in Hamilton with New York saxophonist Sam Newsome.
He is now working with Glen Hall and Joe Sorbara on releasing their new CD “Counterstasis – Refracted Voices” in September 2019, produced with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.
Bill’s ongoing collaborations in 2020 / 2021 include performances with the Toronto Improvisors Orchestra, Bill McBirnie, Eugene Martynec, Kayla Milmine. Ambrose Pottie, Glen Hall & Joe Sorbara.
- Toronto Arts Council award (2017) for CD “Counterstasis – Refracted Voices”
- Canadian Music Centre “New Music in New Places” supported by the SOCAN Foundation and the Government of Canada through the Canada Music Fund for “Memory Vision” DVD (2011)
- Ontario Arts Council Multi-Arts Project (2008) for “Poems for A Love Triangle”
- Toronto Arts Council Music Creators and Composers Program (2008) for “Poems for A Love Triangle”
- Ontario Arts Council grant to record contemporary jazz CD “Spirit Matter” (2000)
- Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records (FACTOR) funding to produce contemporary jazz CD “Urban Undercurrents” (1998)
- Canada Council grant to produce an electro-acoustic music album “Cyclic Dancing” distributed by the Canadian Music Centre (1990)
- Ontario Arts Council grant to attend the Inter Arts program at the Banff Centre of Fine Arts (1988)
- “Vigil” online release Oct 2020 of five poems by Bill Gilliam (voice, prepared piano) arranged and performed by Toronto Improvisors Orchestra
- Dispersion Lab, June 2020 online performance with Doug Van Nort (electroacoustics), Glen Hall (woodwinds, electroacoustics), Joe Sorbara (drums, percussion), Bill Gilliam (piano)
- Coexisdance, May 2020 online performance with Yvonne Ng (dancer) and Bill Gilliam (piano)
- The Art Of Improvisation, Nov 2019 concert at Gallery 345, Toronto with Bill Gilliam (piano), Kayla Milmine (soprano sax), Ambrose Pottie (drums) and Mario Romano (spoken word). Second set Bill Gilliam (piano), Bill McBirnie (flute) & Eugene Martynec (laptop).
- Counterstasis – CD release concert, Oct 2019 at Resonance Cafe, Montreal with saxophonist Lori Freedman
- Counterstasis – Refracted Voices CD release at Array Space, Sept 2019 with Bill Gilliam (piano) Glen Hall (electroacoustics), Joe Sorbara (drums, percussion)
- Performance at June 2019 Something Else! Festival in Hamilton, ON with Gilliam, Milmine Pottie trio
- Performance at 2018 TD Toronto Jazz Festival with Gilliam, Milmine Pottie trio
- “Entangled Pathways” CD release performance at Array Space with Bill Gilliam (piano), Kayla Milmine (soprano sax) & Ambrose Pottie (drums) – Oct 2017
- “What Is Freedom? a performance art production with spoken word with composed and improvised new music inspired by texts and poems about freedom and resistance across time and cultures with Bill Gilliam (piano), Glenda Romano (actor), Cheryl O (cello), Glen Hall (sax, woodwinds, electro-acoustic sounds), Rick Sacks (percussion), David Story (piano & drums) at Gallery 345 (April 2017)
- “What Is Future?” a performance art production of spoken word with composed and improvised new music using insights and vignettes of future worlds described by visionaries, writers and poets, with Bill Gilliam, pianist / composer, Glenda Romano: actor, Mario Romano: actor, Glen Hall: Kyma X, cataRT, electroacoustic sounds, saxophone, flutes, and bass clarinet, David Story: pianist, drummer, composer and synthesist at Gallery 345 (April 2016)
- “What Is Now?” with spoken word / poetry slam artists Brent Peers and Tanya Neumeyer, performance poet Penn Kemp, Bill Gilliam (piano), Glen Hall (Kyma X, electroacoustic sounds, saxophone, flutes, and bass clarinet) and Ambrose Pottie (percussion) at Gallery 345 (May 2015)
- “Redraw The Map” with Ambrose Pottie (percussion) and John Creson and Adam Rosen (voice and improvised visuals) at Gallery 345 June 2014)
- “Lightning Fields”, poetry and new music improv with Ann Anglin & Ambrose Pottie at Gallery 345 (May 2013)
- “Leap In the Dark” , poetry and new music improv with Charlie Ringas at Gallery 345 (June 2012)
- “Signposts”, poetry and new music improvisation performance with Charlie Ringas at Gallery 345 (May 2010, June 2011)
- “Poems from a Love Triangle”, new music concert, Music Gallery (May 2009)
- “Memory Vision”. electro-acoustic works, Canadian Music Centre, Nuit Blanche, (Sept 2007)
- “Poetry, Process, Performance”, alternative word cabaret Drake Hotel, Toronto (Feb, 2007)
- Electro-acoustic music with “Soundspoke”, Doors Open project, Toronto (May, 2006)
- “Suite Ancient Egypt”, electro-acoustic music, London, ON (Feb, 2006)
- “Deceptive Moves”, new music concert, Music Gallery (Sept 2005)
- String Quartet No 2, performed by The Composers Quartet, Music Gallery (Nov, 2004)
- Bill Gilliam, Penn Kemp, Anne Anglin, Richard Sacks, sound poetry / electro-acoustic performance, Distillery Jazz Festival, (May 2004)
- Bill Gilliam, Anne Anglin, Richard Sacks, sound poetry / electro-acoustic performance, Artword Theatre, (Nov 2003)
- Bill Gilliam Ensemble, Distillery Jazz Festival, Toronto, (May 2003)
- “Solos & Duets”, new music concert of compositions by Bill Gilliam, Music Gallery, Toronto (March 2003)
- Bill Gilliam Ensemble, Montreal Bistro, Toronto (Nov 2001)
- Ought One Festival, solo electro-acoustic performance, Montpelier, Vermont, (August 2001)
- Bill Gilliam Ensemble, Montreal Bistro, Toronto (May 2001) “Spirit Matter” Jazz CD release
- Bill Gilliam & Penn Kemp, sound poetry / electro-acoustic performance, McIntosh Gallery, London, Ontario (October 2000)
- Bill Gilliam Ensemble, Montreal Bistro, Toronto (August 2000)
- Bill Gilliam & Penn Kemp, sound poetry / electro-acoustic performance, Macdonald Stewart Art Gallery, (March 2000)
- Bill Gilliam Ensemble, Montreal Bistro, Toronto (February 2000)
- “Gilliam, Sacks & Sounds”, new music concert featuring the electro-acoustic music of Bill Gilliam and Richard Sacks, Music Gallery, Toronto (Oct 1999)
- Bill Gilliam Ensemble, “Urban Undercurrents” Jazz CD release, Montreal Bistro, Toronto (March 1999)
- Bill Gilliam Ensemble , “All That Jazz”, Walker Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario, (April 1998)
- “Bill Gilliam + Friends”, Victoria Music Festival, Music Gallery, Toronto (April 1998)
- “Burning Ambitions”, new music concert featuring Bill‘s compositions, Music Gallery, Toronto (Oct 1994)
- ARRAYMUSIC Young Composers Workshop, performance of “Dangerous Species”, Music Gallery, Toronto (Dec, 1986)
- “Entangled Pathways” (2017) – Bill Gilliam compositions and improvisations for piano and prepared piano, Kayla Milmine (soprano sax) and Ambrose Pottie (percussion)
- “Ensorcell” (2012) – solo piano improvisations
- “Memory Vision” (DVD 2011) – Bill Gilliam electroacoustic compositions with sound poet Penn Kemp and images and videos by visual artists Gera Dillon, Arnold Wytenburg & Luke Gilliam
- “Signposts” (2011) – music for prepared piano (Bill Gilliam) and percussion (Charlie Ringas) with spoken word
- “SoundSpoke” (March 2004) – sound poetry and electro-acoustic improvisation featuring Penn Kemp (poetry and voice), Anne Anglin (voice), Bill Gilliam (sample keyboard), Richard Sacks (percussion)
- “Spirit Matter” (May 2001) – contemporary jazz compositions featuring Kevin Turcotte (trumpet), Ernie Tollar (sax), Duncan Hopkins (bass), Ben Riley (drums), Mark Duggan (percussion), Bill Gilliam (piano). Produced by Jeff Wolpert. Funded with assistance by the Ontario Arts Council. Distributed by Festival Distribution www.festival.bc.ca and United One, Germany www.united-one.
- “Urban Undercurrents” (1999) – contemporary jazz compositions featuring Ernie Tollar (sax), Lina Allemano (trumpet), Dave Young (bass), Howard Gaul (drums), Bill Gilliam on piano. Produced by Ron Allen and funded with assistance by FACTOR
- “Cyclic Dancing” (1990) – cassette album of electronic music produced with assistance by the Canada Council and distributed by the Canadian Music Centre (CMC) in Toronto.
Music for Dance, Theatre
- “Forced Horn” (1997) – choregraphed by Eryn Dace Trudell
- “OS“ (1989) – art installation by Rae Anderson, choreographed by Marie-Josée Chartier
- “Seeing is Believing” (1988) – choreographed by Philip Drube
- “Flesh and Clay” (1987) – music for Phyzikal Theatre production
- “Conversations” (1985) – choreographed by Maxine Heppner
Music for Film
- “Harriet Loves” (1988) – written and directed by Alexandra Gill
- “Consolations” (1987) – written and directed by Bruce Elder
- “Knock Knock” (1985) – written and directed by Bruce McDonald
- “Lamentations” (1984) – written and directed by Bruce Elder
- “Under The Table” (1983) – produced by Luis Garcia and directed by Tony Venturi
Private Study – Music Composition
- Norma Beecroft, 1986, Toronto
- Alexina Louie, 1983, Toronto
- Dr. Samuel Dolin, Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, 1982
- Music composition, piano performance, Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 1979 – 1981
- Southgate College, London, England
- Colchester Royal Grammar School, Essex, England