The English baritone, Roderick Williams, was, after university, a school music teacher for three years while training for a full-time career as a professional singer. He took the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music. While there he made his operatic debut as Tarquinius in Benjamin Britten's Rape of Lucretia, a part he maintains in his active repertory as a professional. He began entering competitions and in 1992 won the top prize among basses in the Great Grimsby International Singing Competition. In 1994 he was second prize overall in the Kathleen Ferrier singing competition. He has also won awards from the South East Arts Music Scheme, and the National Federation of Music Societies, and was granted the Lili Boulanger Memorial Award. Important professional relationships were established right at the start of his career, including those with Opera North and Scottish Opera, which have continued to flourish.
In the mid-1990's Roderick Williams began establishing himself in the North of Britain, singing the Count in W.A. Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro at Opera North, and Schaunard in La Bohème at the Scottish Opera. For the same companies he has also sung Marcello in La Bohème, Belcore in L'Elisir d'Amore, Figaro in Rossini's The Barber of Seville, and Masetto in Don Giovanni. His international debut was in 1998, when he sang Albert in Massenet's Werther for the New Israeli Opera, and in the 1999 Spoleto Festival he took the part of Prince Andrei Bolkonsky in Prokofiev's War and Peace, repeating the role for Chandos' recording of the opera.
Roderick Williams is an exceptionally versatile artist whose intelligent musicality is admired in music from Monteverdi to Peter Maxwell Davies. He has become a familiar and commanding presence on the operatic stage and has made something of a speciality of opera in concert. His burnished and flexible baritone is equally in demand for recitals and oratorio.
For Opera North Roderick Williams has recently sung many of the great baritone roles in W.A. Mozart - Guglielmo in a new production of Così fan tutte, the title role in Don Giovanni and the Count in The Marriage of Figaro - as well as Figaro in Rossini's The Barber of Seville. For Scottish Opera he has sung Marcello in Puccini's La Bohème and Lord Byron in the world premiere of Sally Beamish's Monster. Most recently he performed Ned Keene in Peter Grimes (Opera North). Other notable world premieres include David Sawer's From Morning to Midnight and Martin Butler's A Better Place, both for English National Opera, and his debut with Netherlands Opera in Alexander Knaifel's Alice in Wonderland and Michel van der Aa's After Life (Netherlands Opera). Forthcoming highlights include George Frideric Handel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (Opéra National de Paris, with William Christie) and Papageno in The Magic Flute (Opera North).
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 an acclaimed performance of Harrison Birtwistle's The Second Mrs Kong (Royal Festival Hall). Also for the BBC he has sung the role of Eddie in Mark-Anthony Turnage's Greek. He has taken major roles in conductor Richard Hickox's semi-staged performances of opera, including B. Britten's Gloriana (Aldeburgh, 2003), William Walton's Troilus and Cressida and most of the Ralph Vaughan Williams operas. Apart from English operas, his concert performances include Henze, Strauss, Igor Stravinsky and Wagner (Donner in Das Rheingold for ENO). Plans include Billy Budd with the London Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Harding, and Pilgrim in R. Vaughan Williams' The Pilgrim's Progress with the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Roderick Williams has sung concert repertoire with all the BBC orchestras, and many other ensembles including the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Russian National Orchestra, The Academy of Ancient Music, and Bamberger Symphoniker. Recent successes include B. Britten's War Requiem with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Edward Elgar's Dream of Gerontius in Toulouse, 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, and the world premiere of Harrison Birtwistle's The Ring Dance of the Nazarene with VARA Radio (repeated at the BBC Proms).
Roderick Williams is also an accomplished recital artist, who can be heard at Wigmore Hall, at many festivals, and on Radio 3, where he has appeared on Iain Burnside's Voices programme. Recital plans this season include re-invitations to the Cheltenham and Aldeburgh Festivals.
Future and recent engagements include a return to ENO for Saariaho L’amour de loin, Van der Aa’s After Life for Netherlands Opera, as well as concerts with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, RIAS-Kammerchor, Britten Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco.
Roderick Williams' numerous recordings include R. Vaughan Williams' The Pilgrim's Progress, Sir John in Love and The Poisoned Kiss, and B. Britten's Peter Grimes (the role of Ned Keen in a prize-winning recording), Billy Budd and Albert Herring (all for Chandos). For Philips he has taken part as King's Herald in Verdi's Don Carlos conducted by Bernard Haitink. His most recent releases are Lennox Berkeley's A Dinner Engagement and Ruth for Chandos, a premiere recording of R. Vaughan Williams' Willow Wood with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the solo part in Frank Martin's In Terra Pax and two discs of English song (Finzi and R. Vaughan Williams) with pianist Iain Burnside for Naxos.
Roderick Williams is also a composer and has had works premiered at the Wigmore and Barbican Halls, the Purcell Room and live on national radio.