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, Beethoven, Gluck, Handel, and Mozart through to more recent masters such as Richard Strauss, Saint-Saëns, Berlioz, Bizet 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, as Escamillo in a new Kasper Holten production of Carmen at the Bregenzer Festspiele conducted by Paolo Carignani and Jordan de Souza, and unanimously praised performances of Telramund in Wagner’s Lohengrin at La Monnaie conducted by Alain Altinoglu in a new production by Olivier Py as well as under the baton of esteemed conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the Lanaudière Festival. His 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 distinguished 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, Lotte de Beer, Kasper Holten, 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 with 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, Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder, and Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast. He “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 of Andrew Foster-Williams has garnered collaborations with David Afkham, Herbert Blomstedt, William Christie, Teodor Currentzis, Phillipe Herreweghe, Paul McCreesh, Cornelius Meister, Marc Minkowski, Hervé Niquet, Vasily Petrenko, David Robertson, Ulf Schirmer, and Emmanuel Villaume among many others.
Highlights of the 2018-19 season include a new production by Christoph Loy of Weber’s Euryanthe at Theater an der Wien (Lysiart) conducted by Constantin Trinks, a new production by Barbora Horáková Joly of Pelléas et Mélisande (Golaud) at Theater Basel led by Erik Nielsen, and a new production of Tristan und Isolde (Kurwenal) at La Monnaie directed by Ralf Pleger under the baton of Alain Altinoglu. On the concert stage, Andrew Foster-Williams joins Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic for Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra for Haydn’s The Seasons, and Lorenzo Viotti and the Gulbenkian Orchestra for semi-staged performances of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.
Boasting an extensive discography, Andrew Foster-Williams’ 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 (C.Davis) on LSO Live and with Gabrieli Consort & Players (McCreesh) on Signum, and HMS Pinafore with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera (Egarr) on Linn. Performances captured for DVD include Gramophone Award-winning The Fairy Queen with Glyndebourne Festival Opera (Christie) and Guillaume Tell (Fogliani).
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 Schubert Winterreise or the joyous excitement of playing such wonderful characters as Telramund in Lohengrin, Méphistophélès in La damnation de Faust, or Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande. To be involved in the process of making such exquisite music is an immense 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.