Roderick Williams (Baritone)
Born: 1965, London, England
Roderick Williams was born to a Jamaican mother and a Welsh father in 1965, and worked as a music teacher before training as a singer at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His operatic repertoire includes Britten’s Billy Budd, Sid and Mr Gedge (Albert Herring), and Ned Keene (which he sings on Richard Hickox’s Grammy-winning Chandos recording from 1996), Mozart’s Papageno, and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. He is particularly celebrated for his interpretations of English song, and has recorded Vaughan Williams’s Willow-Wood and Songs of Travel, Finzi’s Earth and Air and Rain, I Said to Love and Let Us Garlands Bring, Britten;s Songs and proverbs of William Blake, and songs by Quilter, Ireland and Butterworth as part of Naxos’s English Songs Series.
Williams is also a prolific composer, specialising in choral music: his Ave Verum Corpus Re-Imagined appears on ORA’s debut album Upheld by Stillness, and in 2017 Signum released an album devoted to his sacred choral works. He has also inspired numerous composers for write for him, most notably Howard Skempton, whose setting of Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was recorded on NMC in 2016 and nominated for a Gramophone Award.
Williams was the soloist at the Last Night of the Proms in 2014, where he sang Jerome Kern’s Ol’ Man River and Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho in his own orchestrations. He was awarded an OBE in 2017.
Further Reading: Roderick Williams
Baritone Roderick Williams, pianist William Vann, and researcher John Francis discuss the first instalment in a new series of recordings, featuring previously unheard folksong arrangements by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
The English baritone talks to David about his new recording of two song-cycles by this rarely-heard Victorian composer, including a setting of Housman's 'A Shropshire Lad'.