Huw Watkins is notable for his equal renown as a pianist and composer. In the former role, he is a significant accompanist and duet partner with many leading British and international figures, and in the latter, he has especially emphasized chamber and vocal music.
Watkins was born July 13, 1976, in Pontypool, in South Wales. The cellist Paul Watkins is his brother, and the two have performed together. He attended Chetham's School of Music and went on to King's College, Cambridge, where he studied composition with Alexander Goehr and Robin Holloway. Watkins earned a master's degree in composition from the Royal College of Music, later earning a junior fellowship there before joining the faculty. As a pianist, Watkins has performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Britten Sinfonia, and the London Sinfonietta, as well as giving recitals at such top British and American venues as Wigmore Hall, the Smithsonian, and the Library of Congress. His duet and vocal partners include Alina Ibragimova, Daniel Hope, and Carolyn Sampson, who recorded his Five Larkin Songs (with Joseph Middleton) in 2020.
Sampson is just one of the leading British performers who have championed Watkins' compositions; others include the London Symphony Orchestra, which premiered his London Concerto to mark its 2005 centenary. Watkins' chorus-and-orchestra work The Moon premiered at the 2019 Proms in London, and his Dawning was performed in early 2020 by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Watkins has written numerous chamber works, including several string quartets, the third of which was premiered by the Belcea Quartet at Wigmore Hall. Watkins' catalog of vocal works is large, and he has composed a pair of song cycles, Remember (2014), and Echo (2017), for soprano Ruby Hughes; the latter was co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall. He has recorded for Chandos, Wergo, Signum Classics, and other labels, often performing his own works. He joined Tamsin Waley-Cohen in 2020 for a recording of Beethoven violin sonatas on Signum Classics, and in the same year, he joined her at Wigmore Hall for the premiere of a new work of his own for violin and piano.