Bass-baritone Andrew Foster-Williams enjoys a vibrant career on both the opera and concert stage and is graced with a vocal versatility that allows him to present a repertoire ranging from the classics of Bach, Gluck, Handel, and Mozart through to more recent masters such as Britten, Debussy, Stravinsky, and Wagner.
Andrew Foster-Williams’ career, initially built on his strong Baroque credentials, has in recent seasons found a new dramatic direction with successes as Pizarro (Fidelio) at Theater an der Wien and Philharmonie de Paris and a unanimously praised debut as Telramund in Wagner’s Lohengrin under esteemed conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the Lanaudière Festival. A subsequent portrayal of Captain Balstrode in Christoph Loy’s divisive new production of Peter Grimes at Theater an der Wien alongside acclaimed performances as Nick Shadow (The Rake’s Progress), Gunther (Götterdämmerung), and Golaud (Pelléas et Mélisande) have further enhanced a highly regarded operatic profile.
Mr. Foster-Williams’ dramatic capacity has earned the respect of many of the most acclaimed stage directors as he “holds the attention of the audience with the energy of someone who has great experience, and with sensational vocal ability, which he uses with total freedom…” (Opéra). He frequently is sought after by David Alden, Barrie Kosky, Christof Loy, David Pountney, and Deborah Warner.
An impressive line-up of concert invitations has taken Andrew Foster-Williams to major stages with the most celebrated orchestras and conductors of our day including the Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst, Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Salzburg Mozarteum with Ivor Bolton, San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas, Concertgebouw Orkest with Richard Egarr, Hong Kong Philharmonic under Edo de Waart, and the London Symphony Orchestra with Sir Colin Davis.
Andrew Foster-Williams offers a concert repertoire as diverse as it is broad including Bach’s Matthäus-Passion and Johannes-Passion, Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Britten’s War Requiem, Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten, Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast. Andrew Foster-Williams “opened the bass-baritone line not like a pompous oratorio singer but like a character in an opera – speaking to the audience, drawing us in, making the words mean something” (The Washington Post). The professional esteem and critical success he has garnered have yielded collaborations with William Christie, Teodor Currentzis, Phillipe Herreweghe, Paul McCreesh, Cornelius Meister, Hervé Niquet, Vasily Petrenko, Ulf Schirmer, and Emmanuel Villaume among many others.
Highlights of the 2016-17 season include a pastiche at the Opéra National Bordeaux on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the death of Cervantes, Les Voyages de Don Quichotte, singing the title role in a staged survey of music written by Falla, Massenet, Ravel, Strauss under the baton of Marc Minkowski as well as Escamillo in a new production of Carmen staged by Kasper Holten and Faraone in a new production of Mosè in Egitto staged by Lotte de Beer both at the Bregenz Festival.
On the concert stage, the artist is heard in performances of Bach’s Johannes-Passion with the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst, Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with the Minnesota Orchestra and Edo de Waart, Strauss’ Elektra with Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España conducted by David Afkham, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the San Francisco Symphony led by Herbert Blomstedt, Mendelssohn’s Elijah at the National Forum of Music in Wrocław, Poland under the baton of Paul McCreesh and with the Charlotte Symphony conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero, and Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder with the Orquesta Filarmonica de Gran Canaria and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Tenerife conducted by Josep Pons.
Boasting an extensive discography, commercial releases include Beethoven’s Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II with the San Francisco Symphony (Tilson Thomas) released on SFSMedia, The Seasons with the London Symphony Orchestra (Davis) on LSO Live, and most recently, HMS Pinafore with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera (Egarr)
It’s not only in film scripts that chance encounters change lives, for it was one such life-changing twist of fate that first set me on the road to becoming a classical musician.
As with many people, my first experience of music performance was at school. It was Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers, and, at the tender age of 15, I must have been the youngest Grand Inquisitor ever!
In the audience that night was Roy Dillon, a highly respected local music teacher. After the show Roy came backstage to congratulate me and insisted that I should immediately begin music lessons. My parents were incredibly emotionally supportive of whatever I wanted to achieve, but not in a million years could they have financially afforded such lessons, and at the time I had my mind set on becoming a mathematician. When I explained this to Roy, he told me that he believed so much in my talent and potential, that he would teach me himself and that the lessons would be totally free of charge.
My curiosity took over, and that's how it all started. For half of each lesson we concentrated on singing practice and for the other half Roy taught me how to read music. Gradually mathematics was set aside, and music became my great passion.
One man's insight, and generosity of time and spirit, changed my entire life. Without it, I might never have known the complex beauty of singing a Britten War Requiem or the joyous excitement of playing such wonderful characters as Gunther in Götterdammerung, Don Pizarro in Beethoven’s Fidelio, or Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande. To be involved in the process of making such exquisite music is a pleasure and a great honour.
Shortly before I found out that I'd gained a place at the Royal Academy of Music in London - where I went on to spend six happy years - Roy died, at the ridiculously early age of 39, after an all too brief battle with cancer. He never got to know how his simple act of kindness so profoundly changed my life, but I’d like to think that his legacy is somewhere there in every single note I've sung since.