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Barbican Presents: Roderick Williams, Milton Court Artist-in-Residence

Roddy Williams singing on stage

Barbican Presents: Roderick Williams, Milton Court Artist-in-Residence

Following on from two successful Milton Court residencies with violinist Richard Tognetti and pianist Jeremy Denk, the Barbican welcomes the celebrated British baritone and composer Roderick Williams as the third Milton Court Artist-in-Residence. As part of the 2018-19 Barbican Presents season, Milton Court hosts three contrasting concerts which will celebrate Williams as composer, collaborator and performer.

His first residency concert, on centenary Remembrance Sunday in November 2018 features new works by British composer Bob Chilcott and by Roderick Williams himself. The residency continues in February 2019 with a recital of Hugo Wolf’s An Italian Songbook, and a third concert of songs from England and France, which will include the world premiere of a new Barbican-commissioned song cycle by Ryan Wigglesworth.

Roderick Williams is renowned for his mastery of an extensive repertoire, from baroque to contemporary music, in the opera house, on the concert platform and in recital. He won the Singer of the Year Award in the 2016 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards and was awarded an OBE for services to music in June 2017. He has established ongoing relationships with all the major UK opera houses and has sung with a host of international ensembles including the New York Philharmonic, Bach Collegium Japan and Le Concert Spirituel. Alongside his busy performing schedule he is active as a composer and his compositions have been performed at venues including the Wigmore Hall and the Barbican.

On 11 November 2018, the centenary Remembrance Sunday, Williams’ residency begins with a concert of two new works by British composers Bob Chilcott and by Williams. Both works respond to the tragedy of the First World War, and will be performed by the BBC Singers and their new Chief Conductor Sofi Jeannin. Roderick Williams’ new piece World Without End (UK premiere) is a touching meditation on events that still scar our imagination a century on. A cantata of several movements, its narrative is formed by English and German poetry and prose, giving contemporary testimonies of life during World War 1 on both sides of the conflict. The work’s title is taken from a memoir by Helen Thomas, widow of the poet Edward Thomas who was killed at the Battle of Arras in 1917. Commissioned by the Barbican and RIAS Kammerchor in Berlin, World Without End compares the German experience of the First World War with the British experience. In this Milton Court date the BBC Singers will be supported by a small chamber ensemble. Like Britten before him, Bob Chilcott has taken inspiration from Wilfred Owen whose poem Futility is the starting point for Chilcott’s work Move him into the sun. This performance is part of For the Fallen that looks to a future haunted and shaped by the past, with a series of concerts bridging the century between then and now. For further events in the series, please see here.

The residency continues on 19 February 2019 with a performance of Hugo Wolf’s An Italian Songbook in a new, dramatized English version created and directed by Jeremy Sams and Christopher Glynn, featuring Roderick Williams (baritone), Rowan Pierce (soprano), Kathryn Rudge (mezzo-soprano), James Newby (baritone), Nicky Spence (tenor) and Christopher Glynn (piano).

Roderick Williams’s final recital in the series on 26 February 2019 features a programme of songs from England and France, including the world premiere of a newly Barbican commissioned song cycle by Ryan Wigglesworth, and also Robert Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben, Sally Beamish’s Four Songs from Hafez, and Clara Schumann’s Liebst du um Schönheit.

For listings, please see here