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 Christof Loy, David Alden, Barrie Kosky, Kasper Holten, 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 Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Britten’s War Requiem, Bach’s Matthäus-Passion and Johannes-Passion, Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder, 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 2017-18 season include Telramund Lohengrin at La Monnaie in a new production by Olivier Py conducted by Alain Altinoglu, Golaud Pelléas et Mélisande directed by René Koering under the baton of Yves Abel for Ópera de Oviedo, Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris conducted by Christophe Rousset, Escamillo Carmen in a Kasper Holten production conducted by Paolo Carignani at the Bregenzer Festspiele, and fully-staged performances of The Cunning Little Vixen with Franz Welser-Möst leading the Cleveland Orchestra.
On the concert stage, Andrew Foster-Williams joins the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Gounod’s St. Cecelia Mass, the Sydney Symphony for Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast and Bach’s Ich habe genug, Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España for Orestes in Strauss’ Elektra conducted by David Afkham, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic for Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony. International performances of Handel’s Messiah bring the artist to the New York Philharmonic under Andrew Manze, and to the Orchestre Métropolitain for performances conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
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, Haydn The Seasons with the London Symphony Orchestra (Davis) on LSO Live. Future CD recordings to include Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust to be conducted by Christophe Rousset, Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic under Andrew Manze, and Squarocca in Saint-Saëns Proserpine with Münchner Rundfunkorchester and Ulf Schirmer.
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 ever Grand Inquisitor!
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.