Roderick Williams OBE

Baritone

Management

Helen Hogh
[email protected]

Fiona Wells
[email protected]

Groves Artists represents Roderick Williams OBE worldwide

Biography

Roderick Williams is one of this country’s most sought after baritones and is constantly in demand on the concert platform and in recital, encompassing a repertoire from the baroque to world premieres.   In 2016 he won the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Singer of the year award.

Opera engagements have included major roles at leading opera houses worldwide including the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, English National Opera,  Dutch National Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera North, Scottish Opera, Florida Grand Opera, the Bregenz Festival and Oper Köln.  He has been involved in many world premieres including, Lord Byron in the world premiere of Sally Beamish’s Monster, Alexander Knaifel’s Alice in Wonderland and Michel van der Aa’s After Life, the title role in Robert Saxton’s The Wandering Jew  with the BBC Symphony , which has been released on NMC to considerable critical acclaim.

Among Roderick Williams’ many performances of opera in concert are recent appearances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Tippett’s The Knot Garden (Barbican) and Birtwistle’s The Second Mrs Kong (Royal Festival Hall) and with the London Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Harding Billy Budd.  He has also sung the role of Eddie in Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek for the BBC.  He has taken major roles in conductor Richard Hickox’s semi-staged performances of opera, including Britten’s Gloriana (Aldeburgh, 2003), Walton’s Troilus and Cressida and most of the Vaughan Williams operas.  Other concert performances include Henze, Strauss, Stravinsky and Wagner (Donner in Das Rheingold for ENO).

Roderick Williams has sung concert repertoire with all the BBC orchestras, and many other ensembles including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Russian National Orchestra, Academy of Ancient Music, The Sixteen, Le Concert Spirituel, and Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.  Recent successes include Britten’s War Requiem and Pilgrim in Vaughan Williams’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (semi-staged) with the Philharmonia, Jesus in The Last Supper  by Birtwistle with the London Sinfonietta in Milan and Turin, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius in Toulouse, a European tour of Handel’s Messiah with RIAS Kammerchor, Tippett’s The Vision of St Augustine with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at the 2005 BBC Proms, Henze’s Elegy for Young Lovers with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the world premiere of Birtwistle’s The Ring Dance of the Nazarene  with VARA Radio (repeated at the BBC Proms), performances of Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen at La Scala, concerts with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and a concert with Bach Collegium Japan at the Edinburgh Festival.

Recent and future operatic engagements include Oronte in Charpentier’s Medée, Toby Kramer in Van der Aa’s Sunken Garden and Sharpless / Madam Butterfly for English National Opera, the title role in Eugene Onegin for Garsington Opera, the title role in Billy Budd for Opera North, Van der Aa’s After Life at Melbourne State Theatre and at Opera de Lyon, and Van de Aa’s Upload for Netherlands Opera, the Bregenz Festival, Cologne Opera and at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, Captain Balstrode / Peter Grimes in a concert performance with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra,  Papageno and Ulisse / Il ritorno di Ulisse in Patria for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden,  Toby Kramer for Dallas Opera, a concert performance of Ned Keene/Peter Grimes with Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Van de Aa’s Upload for Netherlands Opera,  Oper Koln and the Bregenz Festival, and Christus / St John Passion in staged performances with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment both under Sir Simon Rattle.

Recent and future concert engagements include performances  with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra,  the Hallé,  Britten Sinfonia, City of London Sinfonia, King’s College Cambridge, Goldsmiths Choral Union, Ex Cathedra, The Sixteen, The King’s Consort, New London Consort,  London Philharmonic Orchestra, Le Concert Spirituel, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Berlin Philharmonic, Rias Kammerchor, Orquesta Sinfonica de Euskadi, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Iceland Symphony, Danish National Radio Symphony, San Francisco Symphony,  Utah Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra,  Music of the Baroque Chicago, Bayerische Rundfunk, Bach Collegium Japan, Cappella Amsterdam, New York Philharmonic, Britten War Requiem with the Maggio Musicale and Semyon Bychkov in Florence, the UK premiere of Sally Beamish’s Judas Passion with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment as well as with Philharmonia Baroque.  In 2014 Roderick was the featured soloist at the BBC Last Night of the Proms and returned in 2021 for a performance of the St Matthew Passion and the world premiere of Matthew Kaner’s ‘Pearl’ in 2022.

He is an accomplished recital artist who can be heard regularly at venues and festivals including the Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, LSO St Luke’s, the Perth Concert Hall, the Concertgebouw, Oxford Lieder Festival, London Song Festival, Howard Assembly Room, the Musikverein, Vienna and on Radio 3, where he has participated on Iain Burnside’s Voices programme.  Recent and future recitals include various performances at the Wigmore Hall including the three Schubert cycles, recitals for the BBC, the Concertgebouw and appearances at the Ludlow Song Festival, Oxford Lieder Festival, Three Choirs Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and at the Bath International Music Festival.

His numerous recordings include Vaughan Williams, Berkeley and Britten operas for Chandos, and an extensive repertoire of English song with pianist Iain Burnside for Naxos.  He recently recorded the three Schubert Cycles for Chandos as well as recordings of Stanford and Somervell for Somm.

He is also a composer and has had works premiered at the Wigmore and Barbican Halls, the Purcell Room and live on national radio. Recent commissions include a major  work, World without End, for the Rias Kammerchor and BBC Singers as well as a commission to celebrate the centenary of the RAF.   He was Artistic Director of Leeds Lieder + in April 2016 and was Artist in Residence with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra between 2022-2022 as well as ‘singer-in-residence’ for Music in the Round in Sheffield, presenting concerts and leading on dynamic and innovative learning and participation projects that introduce amateur singers, young and old, to performing classical song repertoire.  From 2022/23 season he takes the position of Composer in Association of the BBC Singers. He was awarded an OBE for services to music in June 2017.

This biography is for website use only. For a full and updated biography, please email [email protected]

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Reviews

  • A Shropshire Lad CD with Hallé Orchestra

    As elsewhere, Williams’s singing is completely in sympathy with the music, infinitely alive to the text, and his orchestrations shows the voice off to its best effect.

    Bernard Hughes The Arts Desk, November 2022
  • Wigmore Hall Finzi and Schubert Recital

    Williams told the tale beautifully – he is a raconteur in Lied par excellence.

    Colin Clarke Seen and Heard International
  • Rückert Lieder with RLPO

    Roderick Williams brought a ray of sunshine from his first steps onto the platform in Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder. In each of the five songs Williams was utterly persuasive, gentle gestures enhanced the meanings of the texts, which were delivered with clear diction[…] It was a yielding, embracing and delicate performance, in which the applause broke the reverie he had created. Williams’ stage presence was winning and one felt one was being lead by the hand and taken on a meticulously planned musical journey, making this the highlight of the concert.

    Leighton Jones Bachtrack 2022
  • Madam Butterfly/ English National Opera

    British baritone Roderick Williams is another voice that really fits this score, with his playful yet secure portrayal of the US consul Sharpless. Williams has the rare knack of perfect comedic timing combined with vehemently expressed deep emotions.

    Craig Dacey Rheingold Publishing
  • Time and Space: Songs by Holst and Vaughan Williams (Albion records)

    Roderick Williams – accompanied by the pianist William Vann – consolidates his reputation as our greatest living baritone with probably the finest performance I have ever heard of one of Vaughan Williams’s most renowned songs, Bushes and Briars.

    Simon Heffer The Daily Telegraph
  • Eugene Onegin – Garsington Opera

    Meanwhile, Roderick Williams might have been born to play Onegin, whose elegant pompousness and arrogant predation gradually dissolve into heartbreak and black despair. Williams’ movements have catlike grace, and his sound radiates noble warmth.

    Michael Church The Independent
  • A Schubert song cycle

    Mr. Williams proved a natural and expressive communicator, conveying the drama and anguish of these miniatures without ever resorting to excessive vocal or theatrical gestures. He imbued each song with myriad colorful nuances, his rich, burnished baritone lovely throughout the evening. The contrast when his voice soared on a particular phrase, such as “I have lost you” in “Ihr Bild” (“Her Portrait”), proved particularly compelling when following moments of poignant intimacy.

    Vivienne Schweitzer The New York Times
  • The Return of Ulysses

    The cast is headed by Roderick Williams who asserts his smooth and sensitive baritone in such a way as to emphasise Ulysses’ psychological depths

    Sam Smith Opera Online

News

  • Roderick Williams OBE announced as Composer in Association of the BBC Singers
    14.04.22

    Roderick Williams OBE announced as Composer in Association of the BBC Singers

  • Groves Artists at the 2021 Proms
    27.05.21

    Groves Artists at the 2021 Proms

  • Roderick Williams OBE nominated in the 2019 Olivier Awards
    05.03.19

    Roderick Williams OBE nominated in the 2019 Olivier Awards

  • Roderick Williams OBE and Christopher Glynn bring Schubert’s Winter Journey to secondary schools
    24.01.19

    Roderick Williams OBE and Christopher Glynn bring Schubert’s Winter Journey to secondary schools

  • Roderick Williams OBE has been nominated for the Outstanding Achievement in Opera category at the Olivier Awards
    06.03.18

    Roderick Williams OBE has been nominated for the Outstanding Achievement in Opera category at the Olivier Awards

  • Sir Mark Elder CBE and Roderick Williams recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List
    17.06.17

    Sir Mark Elder CBE and Roderick Williams recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List