William Kempster

Conductor and composer

What is your musical background?

I graduated with a B.A. Honours (Musicology and Composition) from the University of New England in 1979, after which time I taught Music in the NSW Public  School system for 16 years. In 1996 I moved to Canada, and in 1999 graduated with the degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Alberta. From 1999 to 2018 I was Professor of Music and Director of Choirs at the University of New Hampshire (Durham, NH, USA). 

While living in Sydney from 1983 – 1996 I was involved with the Sydney Chamber Choir, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, and the Sydney Schools Symphony Orchestra. In 1998 in Alberta I formed Ensemble de la Rue, and I remain the founding director of Cappella Nova Mundi, a specialist chamber choir based in the New England region of the United States. I have released 16 albums with Ensemble de la Rue, my UNH choirs, and Cappella Nova Mundi over the years, recordings that include over 50 world premieres. My particular choral interests have concentrated upon the music of Renaissance master Pierre de la Rue, as well as the choral music of Ross Edwards.



What is your advice to singers performing your works?

No matter the repertoire, no matter the style, one must always strive to master a base choral singing method that prioritizes pure legato and guards against the breakdown of sonority caused by the intrusion of early consonants.

Songs by William:

A Joyful New Year (SATB)

See (SATB with piano)

Didn’t my Lord Deliver Daniel (SAB)

You may Bury me in de Eas’ (SATB)


What are your favourite pieces you’ve composed?

The favourite works I have written are See! ­– which is an exciting work for chorus and piano featuring a piano part that is quite independent of the choral component – and You May Bury Me in de Eas’, an emotionally demanding unaccompanied work inspired by the injustices of slavery in America. I think both of these pieces are very strong compositionally, as well as being demanding, whilst not out of reach of a good SATB choir.

A Joyful New Year

Contact William Kempster:

e: wgkempster1@gmail.com

website: echoraleditions

William conducting Ross Edward’s Gloria