Williams, Roderick


Roderick Williams is active in the opera house, on the concert platform and in recital, encompassing a repertoire from the baroque to world premieres.

He has enjoyed close associations with Opera North and Scottish Opera, and has also worked for English National Opera and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. As at home in contemporary music as in the standard repertoire, he has taken roles in the world premieres of Sally Beamish's Monster (for Scottish Opera), David Sawer's From Morning to Midnight and Martin Butler's A Better Place (for English National Opera) and Alexander Knaifel's Alice in Wonderland and Michel van der Aa's After Life (for Netherlands Opera). Further contemporary roles include Jaufre Rudel in Saariaho's L'amour de loin (ENO), Eddie in Mark-Anthony Turnage's Greek (BBC) and roles in Tippett's The Knot Garden (Barbican) and Birtwistle's The Second Mrs Kong (Royal Festival Hall).

He has taken major roles in conductor Richard Hickox's semi-staged performances of opera, including Britten's Gloriana (Aldeburgh, 2003), Walton's Troilus and Cressida and most of the Vaughan Williams operas.  Other concert performances include Henze, Strauss, Stravinsky and Wagner (Donner in Das Rheingold for ENO).

He is 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.  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. 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.

Portal, Eduardo


Eduardo Portal is an internationally recognised conductor and is currently based in the United Kingdom. He made his debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 2011 at the Royal Festival Hall. Since then, he has conducted a wide range of world renowned orchestras, both domestically and internationally. The highlights include working at some of the most important venues including the Berlin Philharmonie, the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Palau de la Música in Barcelona and the Sala Sao Paulo in Brazil.

He was the first ever musician to become a European Young Leader in 2017. This involved meeting and working with prime ministers, heads of state from EU countries, ministers and members of the European Parliament, CEO’s, founders of prominent organisations, activists, researchers, analysts, and others.

Eduardo is particularly committed to contemporary repertoire and as such he will release a double CD with the first recording of Maghek, a set of seven orchestral works by Spanish composer Gustavo Díaz Jerez.
He graduated as a Humboldt scholar and as a La Caixa scholar from the University of the Arts Berlin and the Royal Academy of Music in London, and as a Junior Fellow at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

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Chineke! Orchestra

Chineke! Orchestra

Chineke! was founded in 2015 by the double bass player, Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, to provide career opportunities for young Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) classical musicians in the UK and Europe. Chineke!’s mission is: ‘Championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music’.

The Chineke! Orchestra works closely with its sister ensemble, the Chineke! Junior Orchestra, a youth orchestra of BME players aged between 11 and 18, with senior players acting as mentors, teachers and role models to the young musicians. In 2017, the Chineke! Orchestra made its BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall and performed at many other leading festivals throughout England, all to great critical acclaim.

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Roderick Williams baritone
Chineke! Orchestra
Eduardo Portal conductor


Chris Beckett’s book of poetry about his upbringing in Ethiopia was brought to my attention by chance by a pianist with whom I was rehearsing. My gaze happened to fall on the book and I picked it up, asking about its author, a friend of my accompanist. As I opened it to rifle through, I happened upon the final poem in the book The goodbye tree, and a sense of music began to play immediately in my head. I knew instinctively that my search for texts for this very special Chineke! commission was over. The dust and the heat, the rhythms, the colours, the infectious joy, the impish cheekiness of Beckett’s poems screamed out to me as being the perfect match for the effervescent spirit of this unique orchestra. I was a little apprehensive in contacting Chris, afraid he might not be that happy to have me play with his poetic creation but his response was just as joyous. I know above all else that setting Chris’ poetry was going to be a great deal of fun. – Roderick Williams


This piece is part of PRS Foundation's New Music Biennial 2019. For more information about the project and to download the New Music Biennial album, please visit our project page:

Commissioned by Chineke! Orchestra.


‘Williams is absolutely right about the way the heat, dust, colour and atmosphere come across in this live performance’ Radio 3 Record Review


NMC Biennial is generously supported by the following committed patrons, funders and partners:



Catalogue number:
NMC DL201911
Release Date:
18 October 2019