Clayton Graves Williams: Baritone with an Empire State of Mind

While opera and classical music are thought to be in a precarious place in modern culture, rising icon Clayton Graves Williams makes a plausible case to challenge public opinion. For the past five years, Williams has traveled the country putting a fresh twist on classical norms. Williams’ stylistic patchwork of sacred and secular styles, has allowed him to steadily grace opera stages, concert halls, churches; even extend his reach to other musical forms and media avenues. In 2014, the New York based baritone utilized his triple threat skills to create and perform in the excitingly staged US recital tour “Souls of the Soil” with mezzo-soprano Erica Papillion-Posey. The program and its eclectic array of music gained an increased amount of success; commanding Williams’ presence on stages across the globe.

Since Williams’ training in opera and chamber orchestra in 2011 and 2012, hehas continued a steady climb up the success ladder. His impressive repertoire includes Baritone Soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Bizet’s Angus Dei, Mozart’sMissa Brevis in C,K. 220 and a performance in the chorus of Faure’s Requiem in 2010 at New York’s Carnegie Hall. In March 2015, Williams made a dynamic debut as Escamilio in Bizet’s Carmen with Golden Rose Opera Works in Queens,New York. When asked about the exciting role, Williams gushes with pride and shares: ‘Vocally I couldn’t be happier. Escamillo demands a fearless baritone not afraid to sing over the orchestra and connect with the audience dramatically.’

On April 25, 2015, Williams had the opportunity to share his theatrical dynamism with guests at the 16th annual ‘Celebration of Talents Scholarship Recital’ at DuPage A.M.E Church in Lisle, Illinois as the featured soloist; performing numerous classical pieces; including Se Voul Ballare from the Opera Le Nozze di Figaro by W.A Mozart. The recital was held in honor of the event’s organizer- the late soprano Rebecca Smith-Andoh- as a means to acknowledgeand award students of the congregation with over $40,000 in scholarship monies to further their education. Residents of Lisle came out in full force to support the distinguished community event.

While in Lisle, Illinois for his performance, Williams was invited by music mentor and conductor Dr. Gregory Hopkins to perform the cover role of Epaphraham in composer H. Lawrence Freeman’s Voodoo. The production first premiered in 1928 at New York’s Palm Garden. The Concert Series was described by theNew York Times as ‘Spirituals, Southern melodies and Jazz Rhythms with Italian Operatic form.’ The production- through its June 26 & June 27 Revival at Miller Theatre- will pay homage to the Harlem Renaissance figure and showcase the heightened creativity amongst African Americans – as well as their contribution to the field of arts.

Williams’ ultimate goal is to provide performances that unprejudiced eyes and ears can truly appreciate. When asked about his upcoming role in Voodoo, Williams beams with a sense of fulfillment: ‘I am just thankful for the opportunity to perform in such a dynamic production.’

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New York based Baritone helps audiences reshape views on musical theatre and operatic productions

Clayton Graves Williams: Baritone with an Empire State of Mind is a post from: PRUnderground

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