ARTISTS-IN-FOCUS: Roderick Williams and [pictured] Julie Fowlis

January 2022 marks the launch of Voices Unwrapped and the start of the 14th year

of Kings Place’s Unwrapped series. Following a year without singing, 2022’s year-
long series celebrates the power of the voice and the joy of singing together – from

gospel to Renaissance masterworks, jazz vocalising to folk song, cutting-edge
electronically-enhanced contemporary voices to Baroque passions, close harmony
a cappella to performance poetry.
The only instrument that every individual in every culture can access freely, the
human voice is the medium through which a community expresses its identity in
song. As Helen Wallace, Artistic & Executive Director of Kings Place explains:
“Whoever you are, singing is a joyful act, an accessible physical and spiritual workout,
releasing serotonin and bonding groups. We need to sing now more than ever.” Voices
Unwrapped will showcase exceptional singers and ensembles from around the
world, explore a richly diverse vocal repertoire and provide a platform for
community choirs, as well as opportunities for audience participation.
Joining Kings Place as Artists-in-Focus for Voices Unwrapped are Roderick Williams
and Julie Fowlis. Julie Fowlis is a Gaelic singer and musician raised in the Hebrides
and based in the Scottish Highlands, whose performance of original songs in Brave,
Disney Pixar’s award-winning animated film set in the Scottish Highlands, brought
her music to the attention of a worldwide audience. During 2022, Julie will present a
series of programmes using music to showcase Gaelic language and culture. The
first of her curations is Allt, a project Julie conceived with Irish virtuoso musician and
singer, Zoë Conway. Joined on stage by Éamon Doorley and John McIntyre, they
explore Irish and Scottish Gaelic poetry and create new music within the Scottish
and Irish traditional style. In the spring, Julie will team up with piper Brìghde
Chaimbeul, a fellow Gaelic speaker, and Aidan O’Rourke, fiddle player of folk trio
Lau, for a special new collaboration. Later in the year, Julie turns the spotlight on
Staran, a new Scottish folk collective of rising stars led by Gaelic singer Kim Carnie.
Baritone Roderick Williams joins Kings Place Resident Orchestra, Aurora, for a
programme that moves from solo voice to Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer via Judith
Weir’s Good morning, Midnight! as well as a recital in which he inhabits the young
Romantic wandering through songs by Schubert, Schumann, and Clarke alongside
A Shropshire Lad. In addition to the concerts, Roderick Williams will lead a summer
workshop and, is one of the singers who collaborated with composer Hannah
Conway in Sound Voice, an immersive experience that uses music, words, video,
and sound to explore the stories of people who have experienced significant voice
change or loss that will be shown at Kings Place next year.
As Roderick explains, “I love the idea of voices being unwrapped; the idea that any
unhelpful mystique surrounding singing repertoire for voice, any preconceptions of what is involved in vocal training, any barriers that hamper a person’s ability to express
themselves through singing, can be peeled away until the essentials of self-expression
are left, available to anyone, from anywhere and from any walk for life. I look forward
to being part of Voices Unwrapped and hope that it will be a rallying point for singers,
be they part of a professional or community choir, or if they just want to celebrate
singing for and within themselves.”
In addition to its ambition of highlighting the best contemporary writing for small
vocal ensembles while celebrating the rich heritage of ensemble music, Voices
Unwrapped is conscious of also supporting singing within the local community. In
the Voices Together strand, curated by choral director Sam Evans, Kings Place will
give rehearsal space and performance opportunities to an array of community
choirs. Each choir will be filmed and showcased either in the foyer or as a warm-up
for a weekend concert. Audience participation projects include Voices Unwrapped
Singing Academy culminating in a summer in-person workshop and an autumn
concert, a weekend of participation led by Genesis Sixteen, workshops from the
London Vocal Project and summer folk singing workshops. The year-long series
opens with installations from Sound Voice.
Kings Place’s artistic partners, Resident Orchestra Aurora and Artistic Associates The
Sixteen, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, London Sinfonietta, Poet in the City
and Alan Bearman Music play a key role in Voices Unwrapped. International guests
taking part include Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, San Salvador, and
Theatre of Voices. UK-based ensembles include Riot Ensemble, The Swingles, BBC
Singers, Black Voices, The Hanover Band & Chorus, African Gospel Choir, Musica
Secreta, EXAUDI, London Gay Men’s Chorus Ensemble, Manchester Collective,
Voces8, Gesualdo Six and The Tallis Scholars.
Details for Voices Unwrapped will be available on the Kings Place website:
www.kingsplace.co.uk