World Premiere on 27th September 2017 at 7.30pm; Stratford on Avon Music Festival

Leading British baritone, Roderick Williams OBE, together with pianist, Susie Allan, will premiere a brand song cycle, ‘The Rain Is Coming’, by composer Emily Levy and writer Rommi Smith on 27 September 2017 at 7.30pm at the Stratford on Avon Music Festival as an integral part of a programme of Lieder and English song.

Based on Schubert’s ‘Die schöne Müllerin’, this important new work came about after Williams and Levy were discussing the overall lack of autonomous female voices in the Romantic song concert repertoire and set out to offer a balance. Emily Levy and Rommi Smith have reversed traditional gender roles here and given voice to the Miller’s daughter through their words and music. Beginning where Schubert’s cycle ends, this modern, fresh work explores the story of the Maid of the Mill and her desire to leave behind both the dead Miller and the Hunter. Yet even as she follows the river to freedom, she remains trapped still, haunted by the image of the dead Miller in the water.

These new songs expand themes raised in the original work, adding a contemporary interpretation to the story. This unique mini song cycle for voice and piano crosses both genre and artistic divides and offers a welcome new perspective on Schubert’s iconic work.

Further performances will follow at Birmingham Conservatoire and other venues throughout 2018/19. Emily Levy is a singer and composer with musical influences that range from medieval to classical, folk and jazz. She is currently studying composition with Howard Skempton, Joe Cutler, Errollyn Wallen and Ed Bennett.

Rommi Smith is a poet, playwright, performer and librettist. She is both the Inaugural Parliamentary Writer in Residence and inaugural Poet in Residence for Keats’ House, London.

Roderick Williams OBE encompasses a wide repertoire, from baroque to contemporary music and is in great demand in opera houses, on concert platforms and in recital both in the UK and around the world.

Says Emily Levy: “It has been an exciting adventure – and a privilege also – to get to know intimately the original cycle and then create a passionate and fully rounded character for the Maid of the Mill. From her one sentence in the original, she now has six songs where she tells of her perspective, full of wanderlust and desire, both mirroring and opposing the Miller’s words. It has been an illuminating challenge but not a difficulty due to both the clarity and excitement in Rommi’s words and Roderick’s immense capacity for empathy and communication alongside the beauty of his voice”.


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