ON THE same day it was announced that Perth Concert Hall’s popular summer Southern Fried Festival of American roots music would not be taking place this year, its senior cousin, the Perth Festival of the Arts – already planning its 50th anniversary edition in 2021 – was holding the launch event for its 2019 programme in May. With a new administrator in composer Helen MacKinnon, the festival has tilted further towards attracting a younger audience alongside its faithful classical and opera following that has sustained it since 1971.

Perth Festival’s great coup this year was to secure a date by Glasgwegian singer/songwriter Lewis Capaldi, who had already been amassing plaudits and prizes but has had a huge hit with Someone You Loved since he signed up. This weekend he finishes up a run of dates in Dublin’s 13,000 capacity 3Arena, so it is unsurprising that his appearance in the more intimate Perth Concert Hall has quickly sold out.

If your ears are open enough, however, Perth has other singer-songwriters to check out, beyond Southern Fried and before young Capaldi. A fortnight today, the same venue has another coup in a recital by baritone Roderick Williams, in the company of pianist Iain Burnside, en route to delivering the same programme in one of the great concert halls of mainland Europe, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Singer-songwriter? Well, yes indeed, because Williams is a composer of art song and choral works as well as one of our finest performers of them. He is characteristically self-deprecating about this side of his musical personality however. “I don’t feel a burning need to ‘express myself’,” he told me this week, “it is just that sometimes I’ve needed five minutes of music to get from one group of songs to another, and the easiest solution was to write something myself.”

Pace Lewis Capaldi and his Dublin gigs with local heroes Picture This, Williams will come to Perth straight from having sung the role of Jesus Christ in Bach’s St John Passion in Peter Sellars’ acclaimed staging with conductor Sir Simon Rattle and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in London, Luxembourg and Germany. The programme that Scotland will then hear is of the songs of Schubert and Gerald Finzi, the latter revisiting a canon that Williams and Burnside recorded for the Naxos label’s English Song Series of albums 15 years ago.

That series also included the Robert Louis Stevenson-setting Songs of Travel by Vaughan Williams, which the Concertgebouw heard a year ago and enjoyed enough to ask Roderick Williams to return.

“I imagine they probably get enough Schubert and enjoyed the English songs,” muses Williams. “Finzi is not so well-known outside of the UK, but he is one of our finest composers of art songs and his settings of the poems of Thomas Hardy are his best work.”

The baritone also finds such an affinity between the Hardy settings, Before and After Summer and Earth and Fire and Rain, and the selection he and Burnside have made from the lieder of Franz Schubert, that there is no gap in this programme needing a requiring work from his own pen.

The next song recitals he will be giving in Scotland, at East Lothian’s Lammermuir Festival in September, will be Schubert alone, the first Scottish outing for Williams’s latest project, singing Schubert’s popular song cycles in English, as translated by Jeremy Sams, which he is recording for Chandos.

“It is a way of making these works available to the widest possible number of people,” he says. “Because they tell a single story and have a continuous thread, it is like a pop or rock group doing a concept album, live.”

Roderick Williams and Iain Burnside are at Perth Concert Hall on Saturday April 13 at 8pm