Performance: Alice in Wonderland by Roderick Williams
Oxford Girls’ Choir is staging a revival of Alice in Wonderland, a Musical Entertainment by Roderick Williams, at St John the Evangelist on 5 March, with performances at 14.30 and 19.00. Director: Ian Brener, Conductor: Rory McCleery.
Written in 1992 for the Girls’ Choir by composer and operatic baritone Roderick Williams, the work is a showcase for the talents of approximately 45 choristers who make up the cast, ranging in age from 11 to 18. The current production marks Mr Williams’ 50th birthday and his enduring musical relationship with Oxford Girls’ Choir, as well as the 150th anniversary of the book’s publication. This version of Alice has something for everyone—like the original story, it can be taken as light family entertainment but also enjoyed as an intellectual game. In it, we meet all the familiar and much loved characters, from the pompous mouse, doddering dodo, through the vicious “off with their heads” Queen of Hearts, to Alice herself.
Pandora Dewan (17), who plays Alice says, “it’s a challenging production, especially with A-levels coming up, but it’s a wonderful escape, and we’re looking forward to 5 March with excitement, even if we’re also a bit nervous!” Molly Jones (17) and Katherine Benson (18), who play the King and Queen of Hearts, agree: “it’s wonderful to have the experience of singing and acting in a full-blown opera”.
Alice is supported by the Oxford City Council and represents a significantly more ambitious production than the Choir normally performs. A not-so small volunteer army of parents and friends of the girls are busying themselves to make this a success.
Notes for Editors:
Photos available during the Dress Rehearsal at St John the Evangelist on 28 February, from 17.15.
Richard Vendome is available for interviews and advance photographs.
1. Oxford Girls’ Choir is part of Oxford Youth Choirs, a group of six choirs with a membership of more than 150 children aged from 4 to 18 (http://www.oxfordyouthchoirs.org.uk/). The Girls’ Choir was founded in 1984 by Richard Vendome and was the first choir of its kind in England to develop girls’ singing as a musical medium in its own right and not just as a substitute for the adult or the boy’s voice. The Choir aims to achieve the highest musical standards in as broad a range of music as possible, and performs a major staged production annually. In recent years the group has sung at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Castle, the Bodleian Library and Highclere Castle. The choir has also undertaken a number of tours, most recently to Reims where it sang under the direction of Edward Higginbottom at a commemoration of the outbreak of WW1. Many of its alumni have gone on to enjoy professional careers on the stage: the last girl to sing the part of Alice, Victoria Couper, now sings with the vocal trio Voice.
2. Roderick Williams is an exceptionally versatile artist whose intelligent musicality is admired across a wide range of music. He has become a familiar and commanding presence on the operatic stage and has made something of a speciality of opera in concert. His burnished and flexible baritone is equally in demand for recitals and oratorio. Further details are available at http://www.ingpen.co.uk/artist/roderick-williams/
3. C.M. Rubin’s 2012 interview with Roderick Williams about Alice in Wonderland may be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/c-m-rubin/alice-in-wonderland_b_1585411.html
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