Deon P. Green, Gleaner Writer
Sir Willard White - Contributed
Jamaica-born baritone Sir Willard White, who began his career at the Jamaica School of Music in Kingston, is now the president of The Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in the United Kingdom.
Communications manager at the college, Fiona Davidson, told The Gleaner last week that the appointment takes immediate effect and Sir Willard's first official engagement will be a Master class on February 12 next year.
Sir Willard replaces outgoing president, the Duchess of Kent, Katharine Lucy Mary, née Worsley, who has held the post since 1973 when the RNCM was created by the merger of the Royal Manchester College of Music with the Northern School of Music.
White was awarded the CBE in 1995 and was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2004. He began his music career in his homeland before going to the Juilliard School in New York.
Sir Willard performed in the New York City Opera, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera, English National Opera, San Francisco, the Opera Houses of Munich, Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Geneva, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris, and at the Glyndebourne, Aix-en-Provence and Salzburg Festivals.
His repertoire includes the bass-baritone roles in operas by John Adams, Bartok, Monteverdi, Handel, Henze, Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Debussy, Shostakovich, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Messiaen and Gershwin.
White is reportedly in demand for concerts and recitals throughout Europe, the United States and in the Far East. He sings regularly with the world's major conductors and orchestras, including the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Hallé, Royal Philharmonic, Concertgebouw, La Scala, Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Cleveland Orchestras.
Engagements in the 2008/9 season include Mephistopheles/La Damnation de Faust at the Grand Theatre de Genéve and with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Charles Dutoit.
He also has many concerts and recitals in Europe and the Far East, including Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in Madrid, and performances of his new programme 'Robeson Re-Explored'.
Commenting on the appointment, Sir Willard said, "I am very honoured and look forward to my term of presidency at the Royal Northern College of Music; I have, over the years, admired the work of the RNCM through my association with colleagues who have had only good words for their experiences in the College. I wish at this time for a wonderful continuation and broadening of the college's aims under the new leadership of Professor Jonty Stockdale and his team of supporters, board members and staff."
Highly distinctive artist
Professor Jonty Stockdale, principal of RNCM, has said, "We are very pleased and fortunate to have Sir Willard White as our new president. Sir Willard is a highly distinctive artist with a long and illustrious career, and continues to perform at the highest level around the world.
"Willard has an informed understanding of conservatoire education and training, and his insight and experience will be an inspiration to our students. We look forward to welcoming him to the college."