Sundays • 3–4pm | July 7–August 4

Old City Coffee’s collaboration with the Curtis Institute of Music welcomes emerging talent to hone their craft at the cafe on Church Street in Old City. Classical guitar virtuoso, John Marcel Williams will perform on Sundays starting July 7th. Williams will perform a variety of music from his repertoire and says, “I’ve been exploring a lot of fun and interesting music that the extra time in summer allows me. For example some Celtic song arrangements, South American music, and other things that I really enjoy playing but are harder to find time for and program during the school year.” 

Since arriving in Philadelphia last year, the young musician has embraced the opportunities offered by Philadelphia’s vibrant music scene. “I absolutely love Philadelphia. I’ve already made plans to stay in Philly after I graduate from Curtis. The music scene is great, there is just so much going on whether it’s the orchestra, chamber concerts, small house concerts, or music in the parks – classical or anything else. Old City Coffee hosting Curtis students is a perfect example of how you can hear great music in a variety of settings across Philadelphia.”

Williams came to Philadelphia to study at the Curtis Institute of Music after receiving his  undergraduate and masters degrees at the Peabody Conservatory, he says “Curtis has an incredible reputation, I am thrilled to be studying here.” Besides his residency at Old City Coffee this summer John will be playing house concerts through groupmuse and teaching private lessons. “I’m performing as much as possible and trying to play with other musicians more. Curtis provides a special opportunity to work with incredible musicians of all instruments.” Williams is frequently invited to perform and teach at venues in Philadelphia, across the United States as well as internationally and has been awarded over 20 prizes at young artist competitions across the country.


John Marcel Williams is a classical guitar virtuoso currently based in Philadelphia. He has been awarded over 20 prizes at young artist competitions across the country, including first prize at the Boston Guitar Festival, Rosario Guitar Festival, Classical Minds Guitar Festival, and 2nd prize at the international Guitar Foundation of America Young Artist Competition. In addition he was awarded first prize at the James Stroud Competition and the Pittsburgh Concert Society Audition. He entered the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, MD when he was 16 at the invitation of classical guitar legend Manuel Barrueco.


Williams unique musicality combined with virtuosic technique has led him to numerous solo performances. He is frequently invited to perform and teach at venues across the United States as well as internationally. Most recently in 2018, John toured Panama as a guest artist for the Panama Guitar Festival where he not only performed but gave masterclasses and adjudicated for the Panama Guitar Competition. Other recent concerts include solo recitals at Oberlin College and Moravian college. John Marcel has made numerous media appearances on various radio and TV programs, most notably performing on NPR’s program, “From the Top,” where he was also awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award. Future engagements for Mr. Williams include a performance of Elmer Bernstein’s Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra with the Wheeling Symphony, and as a featured artist for the upcoming season of the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society.


John began to study the guitar at age 10 and his talents were quickly noticed by the late Aron Shearer, who encouraged him to continue his pursuit as a classical guitarist. John went on to study with Stephen Aron at the Oberlin Conservatory at age 13, under whose guidance he began to gain attention winning competitions across the United States. He also spent a summer studying at the Aspen Music Festival after an invitation from Sharon Isbin, professor of guitar at the Juilliard School.


Williams started his collegiate studies with Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Institute of Music in 2011, and received both his undergraduate and masters degree in guitar performance. He is currently enrolled at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia studying under Grammy award winning artist Jason Vieaux and David Starobin.