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 the UK’s most sought-after baritones and is constantly in demand on the concert platform and in recital, encompassing repertoire from the baroque to world premieres.

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, the Bregenz Festival and Oper Köln.  He has been involved in many world premieres including Alexander Knaifel’s Alice in Wonderland, several operas by Michel van der Aa, the title role in Robert Saxton’s The Wandering Jew, and the UK premiere of Sally Beamish’s Judas Passion with the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment.

Notable operatic engagements have includes Oronte in Charpentier’s Medée, Toby Kramer in van der Aa’s Sunken Garden, Don Alfonso / Cosi fan Tutte and Sharpless / Madam Butterfly and baritone in a staging of Britten’s War Requiem 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 Dutch National Opera, the Bregenz Festival, Oper Köln and at the Park Avenue Armory in New York.  He has also appeared as Papageno and as Ulisse / Il Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria for the Royal Opera House, Toby Kramer for Dallas Opera, 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.  In 2023 he sang Germont in La Traviata at the St Endellion Festival and recorded the role for a new film by Opera Glassworks in 2023/24.

Recent and future concert engagements include performances  with the London Philharmonic  Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Hallé, Britten Sinfonia, City of London Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Gabrieli Consort, The Sixteen, The King’s Consort, Le Concert Spirituel, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Berlin Philharmonic, RIAS Kammerchor, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Bayerische Rundfunk, San Francisco Symphony, Music of the Baroque Chicago, New York Philharmonic, Utah Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Sao Paulo Symphony, Bach Collegium Japan, and Singapore Symphony.  He is a regular performer at the BBC Proms, featuring as the soloist in the Last Night in 2014, and most recently appearing in the St Matthew Passion in 2021, and the world premiere of Matthew Kaner’s ‘Pearl’ in 2022.   This season’s engagements include tours of Japan with the BBC SO, of Europe with the RIAS Kammerchor, and of North America with Bach Collegium Japan.

He is an accomplished recital artist who can be heard regularly at venues and festivals including Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, LSO St Luke’s, the Perth Concert Hall, Ludlow Song Festival, Oxford Lieder Festival, Howard Assembly Room in Leeds, Bath International Festival, Three Choirs Festival, Aldeburgh Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, the Concertgebouw and the Musikverein.  In 2019 he performed all three Schubert cycles at Wigmore Hall.   His recital programmes often feature repertoire by British composers, including many new works.  He appears frequently on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 as both performer and presenter.

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.  Other recent recordings include an award-winning disc of French song with Roger Vignoles for Champs Hill Records, the three Schubert Cycles with Iain Burnside for Chandos, and recordings of Stanford and Somervell with Susie Allan for Somm.   He has also recorded Schubert’s Winter Journey in a new translation by Jeremy Samms with Christopher Glynn for Signum.  He sang Captain Balstrode / Peter Grimes with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra for Chandos (Gramophone Recording of the Year 2021).  He has also recorded his own arrangement of Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad and other English repertoire with the Hallé and Sir Mark Elder, also for Chandos.

He is an established composer and has recently taken up the role of Composer in Association of the BBC Singers.  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 Artist in Residence with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra 2020-2022.  Currently he is ‘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.  In 2023 he was Artistic Director of the St Endellion Summer Festival, and Artist in Residence at the Aldeburgh Festival.

In 2016 he won the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Singer of the Year award, and in June 2017 was awarded an OBE for services to music.   He also performed at the Coronation of King Charles III in 2023.

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

  • Delius’s epic Mass of Life featuring Sir Mark Elder CH CBE and Roderick Williams OBE released by Lawo Classics
    24.10.23

    Delius’s epic Mass of Life featuring Sir Mark Elder CH CBE and Roderick Williams OBE released by Lawo Classics

  • Roderick Williams to sing at the coronation service for King Charles III
    19.02.23

    Roderick Williams to sing at the coronation service for King Charles III

  • 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