BEHIND THE MUSIC
Having been born around the Trinidadian culture, Kendall Williams has adopted the country's national instrument, the steel pan. From as early as the age of four, Kendall made efforts to mimic his parents as they displayed their talents in a Miami-based steel band. It wasn't long before his efforts turned into a reality as he developed his skills and passion for the instrument. As he got older his passion brought out a connection to music and he was able to perform with large, world-renowned steel bands in Trinidad and Tobago as well as bands in the New York based scene for years and counting. He took things a step further changing his major from architecture to music performance on steel pan at Florida Memorial University. He was able to tour the lower United States with the Chorale and even travel to Brazil with the school steel band, all under the direction of Dr. Dawn Batson. Upon graduating with his B.A. in Music Performance, Kendall was encouraged to further his studies at NYU Steinhardt where he completed his Masters of Music in Theory and Composition. There he was able to study with Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, and Rich Shemaria while actively participating in the NYU Steel band under the leadership of Artist Faculty member Josh Quillen.
As he moved closer to graduating, his goals included composing and arranging music that could further showcase the steel pan for the virtuous instrument it is, while bringing his unique style to more conventional instruments known today. Now that he has graduated he aggressively pursues a career as a composer, arranger, educator, and advocate for the steel pan instrument. He works to open peoples' minds to the possibilities steel pan can offer the world by showing that the instrument is far more versatile than it may seem. In 2013, 2015, and 2017, he had music for steel pan and contemporary ensemble programmed on the Bang on A Can Marathon. In 2020 he wrote a solo composition featuring percussion for the Virtual Bang on A Can Marathon while performing as a soloist in the Virtual Bang on A Can marathon the following month. Just before that, he was awarded the opportunity to work with the Brooklyn Philharmonic on a project that involved steel pan ensemble and Orchestra.
In 2014 he was the Van Lier Fellow with the American Composers Orchestra. In addition, he is also currently a doctoral student in music composition at Princeton University! There he studies under the auspices of Dan Trueman, Steve Mackey, Dmitri Tymockzo, and So Percussion. In his most recent years, he has been actively lecturing and leading workshops at various colleges, universities and grade schools across the United States, while he completes his dissertation. Kendall is an active adjunct at Brooklyn College, a teaching assistant in a steel band class at Princeton University, and most recently appointed as an adjunct at New York University where he also teaches private lessons in steel pan. Presently, his goals include establishing steel pan music programs in colleges and universities that will allow musicians to major in steel pan. While pursuing that, he also sits as CEO of Pan in Motion, an organization that he started to promote history, education, culture, and sustainability in steel pan.
“The true artist is not proud: he unfortunately sees that art has no limits; he feels darkly how far he is from the goal, and though he may be admired by others, he is sad not to have reached that point to which his better genius only appears as a distant, guiding sun.”