A masterclass from a world star

World-renowned baritone Roderick Williams is heading to St Andrews.
World-renowned baritone Roderick Williams is heading to St Andrews.

The stage is set for Scotland’s festival of vocal and choral music, St Andrews Voices, which gets off to a spectacular start this Thursday.

The festival is to be opened by world-famous baritone Roderick Williams, who’ll be giving a masterclass and song recital alongside renowned pianist and broadcaster Iain Burnside.

Williams, fresh from his performance at the Last Night of the BBC Proms, and Burnside join forces at Younger Hall to guide a group of students from four Scottish universities in a diverse variety of repertoire.

And the following evening, October 24, they’ll be performing their own highly anticipated recital, including poignant music by Ivor Gurney to mark the centenary of the First World War, and Schubert’s settings of poems by Ludwig Rellstab from the composer’s late masterpiece ‘Schwannengesang’.

Now in its third year, St Andrews Voices has become widely recognised for its diversity of genres, with other performances this year including a candlelit concert at 10.00 p.m. on Friday in St Leonard’s by The Marian Consort, whose programme features Renaissance and modern music inspired by Angels and by the Annunciation.

Saturday’s programme includes a jazz cream tea at Rufflets Hotel with jazz/vintage singer Martyna Wren, hailed by critics as having ‘an incredible voice’, while laughs are guaranteed at Hotel du Vin when outrageous funnymen Kit and McConnel serve up their unique brand of musical comedy in the 10 .00 p.m. performance.

The main evening event will feature star soloists from Scottish Opera performing a selection of operatic favourites at the Byre Theatre in a concert beginning at 7.30 p.m.

The festival concludes on Sunday with a Bach cantata service sung by the choir of St Salvator’s Chapel, with musicians from the University, at 11.00 a.m. and a 4.00 p.m. performance in the Younger Hall by members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the SCO Chorus.

They’ll be performing two masterpieces by Johannes Brahms; the Horn Trio op 40 (featuring BBC Radio 3 New Generation artist Alec-Frank-Gemmill) and the German Requiem in its original version accompanied by piano duo.

As if that weren’t enough, you might catch an open-air performance on October 25 by one of the University’s famed a cappella groups, either in St Andrews or at the Fife Farmers’ Market in Kirkcaldy.

There’s even a chance to join in the music-making as SCO chorus master Gregory Batsleer leads a workshop for keen amateur choral singers on the Brahms Requiem at 10.30 a.m. on Saturday morning, also in the Younger Hall.

The festival opens on Thursday, October 23, with Roderick Williams appearing at 7.00 p.m.

For more information, visit the festival website at www.standrewsvoices.com, or contact the Box Office on 01334 462226.