Huw Watkins was born in Wales in 1976 and studied piano with Peter Lawson at Chetham’s School of Music and composition with Robin Holloway, Alexander Goehr and Julian Anderson at Cambridge and the Royal College of Music. In 2001 he was awarded the Constant and Kit Lambert Junior Fellowship at the Royal College of Music, where he later taught composition. He is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the Royal Academy of Music.
Watkins’ orchestral works include commissions by BBC Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra. As Composer in Association with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (2015-2019), Watkins has written a Cello Concerto (2016) for his brother, the cellist Paul Watkins, premiered at the BBC Proms under Thomas Søndergård, and Spring (2017), premiered under Ryan Wigglesworth.
Chamber music is central to Watkins’ output, complementing his parallel career as a pianist. His violin Partita was written for Alina Ibragimova and the viola Fantasy was written for Lawrence Power. Long-time supporters The Nash Ensemble commissioned a Horn Trio, and his String Quartet for the Carducci Quartet was a commission from the Manchester Chamber Concerts Society. Watkins was awarded the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s 2016 Stoeger Prize, and in 2018 they commissioned his Piano Quintet with Wigmore Hall. Other works for Watkins include Four Fables (2018) for clarinet and piano trio which premiered at Three Choirs Festival, and subsequently toured throughout the UK.
Watkins’ has also written various vocal works including In my craft or sullen art for tenor and string quartet, premiered by Mark Padmore and the Petersen Quartet at Wigmore Hall and Five Larkin Songs for soprano and piano, which won a British Composer Award. Music Theatre Wales commissioned two chamber operas, both with libretti by David Harsent: Crime Fiction (2008) followed by In the Locked Room (2011-2012) a co-commission with Scottish Opera which received a new production at Staatsoper Hamburg in 2015 and at the Royal College of Music in July 2018.
As one of the UK’s finest pianists Watkins has premiered works by Oliver Knussen, Mark-Anthony Turnage, John Woolrich and Michael Zev Gordon and has performed concertos with numerous leading orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra and London Sinfonietta..