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American baritone LEON WILLIAMS (Jake) enjoys a fine reputation on several continents for his warm, handsome voice, charismatic personality, and superb musicianship. Concert appearances include Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Honolulu Symphony; Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Florida Orchestra, the Baltimore, Reading, Alabama, Westchester, Grand Rapids, Hartford, and Colorado symphonies, the National Philharmonic, and at the Berkshire Choral Festival; Britten’s War Requiem, the Mozart and Fauré Requiems, and Haydn’s Creation with the Colorado Symphony; Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony with the Portland and Illinois symphonies and the Florida Orchestra; Fauré’s Requiem with Raymond Leppard and the Kansas City Symphony; Brahms’ Requiem with the Alabama and Santa Barbara symphonies; Haydn’s Il Ritorno di Tobia and Harold Farberman’s War Cry on a Prayer Feather with the American Symphony Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center; Weill’s Lindberghflug with Dennis Russell Davies and the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; Mahler’s Rückert-lieder with Christoph Eschenbach at Japan’s Sapporo Festival, and the composer’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and Eighth Symphony with Leon Botstein at New York’s Bard Festival; Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall; Mozart’s Requiem with Joseph Flummerfelt at the Westminster Festival; Beethoven’s Mass in C at France’s Colmar Festival; and Copland’s Old American Songs with the Warren Philharmonic. He recently opened the brand-new concert hall in Amarillo, Texas, performing Lee Hoiby’s I Have a Dream with James Setapen and the Amarillo Symphony, and returned there in the 2008/09 season for Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast.
Passionately devoted to the art of the song, Williams has performed Brahms’ Vier ernste Gesänge with Sarah Rothenberg and the Da Camera Society of Houston (to which he returned for a special program of the music of Charles Wuorinen); an “Art of the Spiritual” program at San Francisco’s Herbst Theater; and an all-American program at Japan’s Tochigi Music Festival and Maine’s Arcady Music Festival. He has given recitals in Hartford, Pittsburgh, Princeton, and throughout his native New York City, including Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Hall (the songs of Richard Hundley), and the 92nd Street Y (a much-acclaimed all-Poulenc program with Michel Sénéchal and Dalton Baldwin). Opera credits include Anthony in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd (Toledo Opera) and Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (Hawaii Opera Theatre), both meeting with unanimous critical and public acclaim. A much-in-demand Porgy and Bess principal, he sang Porgy with Yuri Temirkanov conducting in St. Petersburg, Russia; Sporting Life with Markand Thakar and the Duluth-Superior Symphony, and Jake in the Dallas Opera production. Tonight he reprises Jake for his Los Angeles Philharmonic debut at the Hollywood Bowl, under Bramwell Tovey, and he will soon sing the role for debuts with both Opera Grand Rapids and the New Orleans Opera. Other upcoming highlights include a recital in Oklahoma City, Verdi’s Requiem with David Lockington and the Modesto Symphony; Messiah with the National Philharmonic; Carmina Burana with the Jacksonville Symphony and Mozart’s Figaro with Hawaii Opera Theatre.
Leon Williams has won top prizes in the Naumburg, Joy-in-Singing, and Lola Wilson Hayes Competitions.