left-handed classical guitarist and lutenist based in Worcester (UK), England
Guitarist and Lutenist Rod Willmott has had a more varied career than most.
Having started playing the guitar during the "skiffle" period he quickly went from accompanying himself as a folk-singer to playing classical guitar. He went to University to study maths and physics but halfway through the course he dropped out to take up the study of music at the Guildhall School of Music.
However the professor of guitar at the Guildhall refused to teach him because he was left-handed. It was at this point that Rod's career began it's somewhat unorthodox course!
To enable him to continue studying the guitar Rod began singing folk songs again. He had regular engagements at Robin Howard's Elizabethan Rooms and played in the folk-clubs of London and all over the country. This led to television appearances with Kenny Lynch and Anita Harris, Thames TV's "Song and Story" with Richard Stilgoe and even presented BBC's Playschool and Thames TV's "Last Programme".
The next development came when he joined the National Theatre Company as guitarist and lutenist, eventually acting with the company on a six month tour of America and Canada. During this ten year period Rod also played guitar in three operas at Covent Garden, played with the Chichester Festival Theatre Company, Nottingham Playhouse and performed in the marvellous Brecht/Kipling collage "Never the Twain" at the Greenwich Theatre later transferring to the Mermaid Theatre. It was also at this time that he played his first sell-out recitals at the Purcell Room.
He taught Vanessa Redgrave to play guitar for her part in the film Mary Queen of Scots and Liv Ullman to play the lute for the film "The Abdication". Rod played on the sound-track of both of these films.
His first visit to America took him to Brown University for a recital rounding off Spring Weekend and recitals at a number of smaller colleges.
Acting caused a bit of a diversion at this stage (pardon the pun!) and work with Worcester Repertory Company and the Ludlow Festival followed. For both these occasions Rod wrote and arranged all the music concerned as well as acting in the productions and playing all the music!
Tours all over the world with Sir Michael Redgrave in "Shakespeare's People" involved him in all his skills acting, singing, playing lute and guitar. Eventually back in England seasons with the Old Vic Company, Cambridge Theatre Co. and London's Tricycle Co. completed his Theatre work to date.
At this point a number of circumstances combined to cause him to concentrate on his musical career and his reputation on the recital circuit continues to grow.
Since moving to Worcester he has widened his repertoire to include light music, South American "folk" orientated music and now plays for weddings and various other "special" occasions. Many restaurants employ him to play background music.
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