Monday 25 July 2022

Friends & Lovers: London Song Festival explores the close relationship between poet & composer

Paul Laurence Dunbar & Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Paul Laurence Dunbar & Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
The 2022 season of Nigel Foster's London Song Festival (LSF) will be presenting eight concerts between 28 October and 9 December 2022 on the theme of Friends and Lovers. Each concert explores the a close relationship (whether romantic or purely friendship) between a poet and a composer, their stories told with sung and spoken words, actors as well as singers. I have to confess a particular interest in the series as my setting of poetry by Paul Laurence Dunbar will be premiered at the concert on 2 December 2022, when tenor Ronald Samm and soprano Gweneth Ann Rand perform Coleridge-Taylor's settings of Dunbar, alongside music by Florence Price, and William Grant Still.

The season opens on 28 October with  Lotte Betts-Dean, Julien Van Mellaerts, Harriet Slater and John D Collins, in an exploration of the relationship between Ralph Vaughan Williams and his poet wife Ursula, including new songs by Roderick Williams. Then on 4 November, Alessandro Fisher, Marcus Farnsworth and David Mildon, explore the relationship between Schubert and Mayrhofer.

On 11 November it is the turn of Berlioz and Théophile Gautier, with Clara Barbier Serrano, Alexandria Moon, Ben Vonberg-Clark, James Atkinson and Kevin Moore, and music by Berlioz (including the complete Les Nuits d'Eté), and Gautier settings by Debussy, Fauré, Duparc, Pauline Viardot, and Paladilhe, Then on 12 November there is the Association of English Singers and Speakers Prizewinners' concert, with Jemima Price, Hector Bloggs, Michael Lafferty, Sophie Clark, Matthias De Smet and Theo Diedrick.

The winners of the 2021 LSF British Art Song Competition, Anika France and Cole Knutson, look at Cecil Armstrong Gibbs and Walter de la Mare on 18 November.  Emma Rob, Michael Lafferty and David Mildon's exploration of the relationship between Poulenc and Paul Eluard on 25 November will include all of Poulenc's Eluard settings.

On Friday 2 December comes the Coleridge-Taylor and Dunbar concert with Ronal Samm and Gweneth Ann Rand, then the final event is on 9 December, exploring Britten and Auden's relationship.  Lottie Bowden, Harry Grigg and David Mildon perform a programme that includes On This Island, the Cabaret Songs, many individual songs and extracts from Paul Bunyan, Our Hunting Fathers and Ballad of Heroes.

All concerts take place at Hinde Street Methodist Church, full details from the London Song Festival website.

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