Wednesday 20 July 2022

21st Birthday: Oxford Lieder Festival comes of age with a celebration of Friendship in Song

Oxford Lieder Festival

This Autumn, Oxford Lieder Festival celebrates its 21st birthday with a fortnight of song (from 14 to 29 October 2022) under the banner Friendship in Song: An Intimate Art. The focus of the festival is of song-making as a social art, from gatherings round the piano to salons to composers writing for friends. Mark Padmore will be artist in residence, giving an all-Schubert recital, performing lute songs, giving a lecture on Britten's poets, being in conversation with Kate Kennedy as well as leading the festival's Mastercourse with young singers.

Holywell Music Room
Holywell Music Room
Baritone Thomas Oliemans will be giving a performance of Winterreise, accompanying himself on the piano, and there will be appearances from Dame Sarah Connolly, Christoph Prégardien, Kate Royal, Carolyn Sampson, Camilla Tilling, Dorothea Röschmann, Roderick Williams, Birgid Steinberger, Thomas Oliemans, Claire Booth, Benjamin Appl, Christopher Purves, James Gilchrist, Iestyn Davies, Christine Rice, Werner Güra, Sarah Wegener and  Julian Prégardien. 

But it is with the themed events that the festival really creates something that is distinctly Oxford Lieder Festival. RVW's 150th birthday is celebrated with a series of lunchtime recitals of music by RVW and his contemporaries by performers including Kathryn Rudge, William Thomas, and Ailish Tynan, plus Alessandro Fisher, William Vann and the Navarra Quartet in On Wenlock Edge, and there will also be a new song cycle by Ian Venables commissioned by the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society. There is a lecture recitals on RVW's friend, George Butterworth, and on RVW and women.

There will be a recreation of a typical Schubertiade, a quintessential example of music amongst friends, and the middle weekend of the festival is devoted to Schubert, with a lecture by Graham Johnson on Schubert and his friends in 1822, Natasha Loges on Schubert's social music and recitals from Mark Padmore and Till Fellner, Birgid Steinberger and Julius Drake, and Werner Güra and Christoph Berner in Schubert's Ballads. And the weekend ends with the return of Birgid Steinberger, accompanying herself on guitar in a programme of folksongs.

A focus in intimate music making brings a series of recitals devoted to lute songs, both ancient and modern, with performances from Helen Charlston and Toby Carr, Benjamin Appl and Thomas Dunford, Iestyn Davies and Thomas Dunford, and Mark Padmore and Elizabeth Kenny. Christopher Purves, Rowan Pierce and the choir of Queen's College will recreated an 18th century Catch Club, preceded by a study event and followed by the jazz-infused close harmonies of the Oxford Gargolyes.

The festival is beginning a new collaboration with BeethovenFest Bonn, bringing a recital from their festival that combines Schumann’s Dichterliebe with a reading by Sir Thomas Allen of Thomas Mann’s short story Tonio Kröger and a recent work by composer Elena Langer, performed by soprano Anna Dennis, counter-tenor Hugh Cutting, oboist Nicholas Daniel and baritone James Atkinson. 

There are study events exploring the rich history of salon music making, as glamorous social gatherings and safe spaces for new or forbidden ideas, on Richard Strauss and the importance of song and domestic music making throughout his long life,  looking at Sir Isaiah Berlin and the important cultural friendships he fostered, and the contemporary Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov (whose Quiet Songs are performed during the festival by Lotte Betts-Dean and Natalie Burch), and on artist Leonid Pasternak and his network of friends and connections.

The British-Chinese composer Alex Ho is the festival's new Associate Composer. Alex will write two major new song cycles this year and next. For this year, he will write for the mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron and pianist Kunal Lahiry, setting a specially-commissioned text by Singaporean poet Theophilus Kwek.

Whilst there will still be concerts at  St John the Evangelist, many of the recitals are returning to Holywell Music Room (hurrah), whilst the Mastercourse takes place at Trinity College's Levine Building, and there are visits to Old Library and Chapel at Trinity, Convocation House, the Divinity School, Wolfson College, the Leonid Pasternak collection on Park Town, Freud café on Walton Street, the Mad Hatter bar on Iffley Road, and several college chapels.

Each evening concert will feature an ‘emerging artist’ slot: a 15-minute showcase given to emerging young musicians that begins the concert. This initiative was started during the pandemic, but was so well received by audience and artists alike that the festival has decided to make it an ongoing feature. It is a fantastic platform for the musicians, and a chance for audiences to spot the stars of the future. In March 2022 the festival had auditions for for its Young Artist programme and appointed eleven duos to the scheme. They will appear in a number of the illustrated study events, as well as giving the Emerging Artist slots in the first week of the festival, then in the second they take part in the Mastercourse.

A visit to the festival can be a highly social event so that it is apposite that artistic director Sholto Kynoch has put the all-important elements of friendship, intimacy and conviviality at the centre of this year's celebratory programme.

Full details from the festival website.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts this month