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Academy of Ancient Music Commissions New Period-Instrument Work

Composer Roderick Williams' new work will set a text by Ignatius Sancho, a Black British composer in Georgian England


For the first time since the early 2000s, the Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) has announced that will commission a new work — to be performed on period instruments. The British baritone and composer Roderick Williams will write the piece, which will be performed as part of AAM's Sons of England program in late May.

Additionally on the program is a suite by Charles Ignatius Sancho, a Black British composer who was born into slavery but eventually became a composer in Georgian England. Williams' new work, From Ignatius Sancho, will set a text by the composer — aiming to give his work a more prominent place in the canon.

Williams is presently the Composer in Association of the BBC Singers. His commissions include major work, World without End, for the RIAS Kammerchor and BBC Singers, as well as a commission to celebrate the centenary of Britain's Royal Air Force. He is also one of the UK's most renowned baritones, regularly accepting engagements with its best orchestras and opera houses.

The AAM's "Sons of England" program is curated by the countertenor Reginald Mobley.

"Williams’ composition pays tribute to Sancho and offers a necessary corrective to the erasure of the true diversity of English music-making from the 18th century to the present day," the AAM said.

"When composing a new work for a period instrument ensemble, I challenge myself to write something that suggests period instruments first, rather than something that could actually be better realized on modern instruments," Williams said.

"One aspect of writing for such an ensemble is the players’ immense skill and specific training. Their years spent honing their craft and understanding of historical techniques is something I want to celebrate."

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