Roderick Williams OBE announced as new Patron of Birmingham Bach Choir

Baritone Roderick Williams OBE

Choir continue centenary celebrations with special recital and new appointment

Birmingham Bach Choir are delighted to announce the appointment of Roderick Williams OBE as their new patron.

The famed British baritone takes on the role as part of the choir’s year-long centenary celebrations, and will be marking his appointment with a Special Recital – Roderick Williams Sings Beethoven and Schubert – at Bromsgrove School, Worcestershire, on Thursday 9 May 2019.

With accompaniment from pianist Susie Allan, the must-see performance focuses on Ludwig van Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved) and Franz Schubert’s Schwanengesang (Swan Song).

Dating from 1816, Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte is considered to be the first example of a song cycle by a major composer. Featuring six songs, they collectively capture the yearning, pain of separation, suffering, hope, and enrapture of a lover.

Published posthumously in 1829, just a few months after the composer succumbed to typhoid fever, Schubert’s Schwanengesang provides musical settings for verses by three leading 19th century poets. Several of these were passed to Schubert by Beethoven’s assistant, and Schubert’s cycle shares similar themes – lost love, seduction, joy, hope – to that of An die ferne Geliebte.

Roderick Williams is one of his generation’s greatest performers. Winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards Singer of the Year Award 2016, Roderick was awarded the OBE for services to music in June 2017 and works regularly with all of the major UK opera houses, as well as singing with many major ensembles, including the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the BBC orchestras.

In 2015 he sang Christus in Peter Sellars’ staging of the St John Passion with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, and returned to the role earlier this year with both the Berlin Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

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.  He’s in the process of recording Schubert’s three cycles for Chandos.

Discussing his appointment with choir, Roderick said: “I’m delighted to be associated with the Birmingham Bach Choir; living as I do in the Midlands makes this pretty much my local choir. My association with Paul Spicer goes back more than thirty years, so I am especially pleased to support the work he has done, and continues to do, with this proud and magnificent choir.”

One of the largest and oldest chamber choirs in the West Midlands, Birmingham Bach Choir have played a central role in the region’s rich cultural life for 100 years, a historic occasion they’re celebrating with a series of special concerts and appearances. The choir were recently invited to provide a musical setting for the unveiling of the Sousse and Bardo memorial in Birmingham, a ceremony attended by His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry.

Roderick Williams Sings Beethoven and Schubert is at Routh Hall, Bromsgrove School, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire B61 7DU on Thursday 9 May 2019. Tickets £22-£10. For more information, see:



Thursday 9 May 2019
Roderick Williams Sings Beethoven and Schubert
Routh Hall, Bromsgrove School, Worcester Road, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire B61 7DU
Tickets: £22 (concs £19.50); students £10.

Roderick Williams OBE – baritone

Susie Allen – piano

Beethoven: An die ferne Geliebte

Schubert: Schwanengesang

NB. Please note that Birmingham Bach Choir will not be performing at this Special Recital.



As one of the UK’s leading large chamber choirs Birmingham Bach Choir has been contributing to the musical life of the West Midlands since 1919, making it one of the longest established musical groups in the area. Although the main focus is the Baroque period (especially JS Bach), the choir performs music spanning over 500 years including 20th and 21st century works.

2019 is the choir’s centenary, and will be marked by a series of special concerts throughout the year.

“Stunning … great waves of beautifully phrased eloquence … constant fascination” 5 stars – Birmingham Post (reviewing Byrd’s The Great Service, March 2018)

“Sounding awesomely impressive.” 4-stars – Birmingham Post (reviewing Great Russian Sacred Music, November 2016)

“This was a reading luminous in its clarity, exhilaratingly detailed in the fine-etched shaping and balancing of its contrapuntal lines, and delivering diction of unaffected immediacy.” 4-stars – Birmingham Post (reviewing Bach’s B Minor Mass, December 2017)

For more information see:

Birmingham Bach Choir


Roderick Williams is one of the most sought after baritones of his generation with a wide repertoire spanning baroque to contemporary music in the opera house and on the concert platform and is also in demand as a recitalist worldwide. He enjoys relationships with all the major UK opera houses and has sung opera world premières by David Sawer, Sally Beamish, Michel van der Aa, Robert Saxton and Alexander Knaifel.

He performs regularly with leading conductors and orchestras throughout the UK, Europe, North America and Australia, and his many festival appearances include the BBC Proms, Edinburgh, Cheltenham, Aldeburgh and Melbourne.

As a composer he has had works premièred at Wigmore Hall, the Barbican, the Purcell Room and on national radio. In December 2016 he won the prize for Best Choral Composition at the British Composer Awards.

Roderick Williams was awarded an OBE in June 2017 and was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Opera in the 2018 Olivier Awards for his performance in the title role of the Royal Opera House production of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria.


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