Although better known to some as a baritone soloist, Roderick Williams’ reputation as a composer is growing steadily. His Advent antiphon O Adonai, published by Oxford University Press, has received numerous performances and recordings around the world. He has since been much in demand as a choral and vocal composer.
For the vocal ensemble I Fagiolini Roderick’s works include Dr Seuss’ Sleep Thoughts, Is 5, Die Oop Lucht and A Word in your Ear. His work with I Fagiolini in collaboration with a choir from Soweto culminated in the album Simunye for which he composed and arranged much of the music.
He has received commissions from Ex Cathedra, Concordia, and Choros Amici as well as requests for songs from many of his singing colleagues. His song A Coat appears on the NMC label’s 2009 review of British song writing, Songbook.
Roderick’s Jazz Choral Evensong service was written in 2006 in homage to Duke Ellington, and was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in June that year. This was followed by a BBC Radio 4 commission of an accompanying Matins service, broadcast in February 2007. An expansion of Purcell’s Come ye Sons of Art was commissioned by the South Bank Centre and performed by the Sixteen, the OAE and a 200 strong community Gospel choir, in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen in October 2007. Roderick broadcast his own orchestrated arrangements of Ol’ Man River and Joshua fit de battle of Jericho on the BBC Last Night of the Proms in 2014, accompanied by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Sakari Oramo.
Recent commissions also include O Brother Man – A New England Symphony, a 20 minute unaccompanied work for Yale Schola Cantorum premiered in Spring 2015 and Ave Verum Re-imagined for Suzi Digby and ORA.
William Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus is a piece that I have known since my days as a treble chorister and I grew up in awe of its carefully measured harmony and effortless counterpoint. Like any choral singer, I have my favourite moments within the piece – the scrunching false relations, the question and answer exclamations, the mournful coda – and so I sought to write a piece that
would focus specifically on these highlights and expand upon them. Its composition is an act of homage to a masterful composer.
This work was commissioned by ORA and Suzi Digby OBE as a reflection on the Kyrie Eleison from William Byrd’s Mass for Five voices. It recieved its UK premiere at the ORA Launch Concert at the Tower of London on 9 February 2016.
To listen to the work in full CLICK HERE