Thursday 23 March 2023

Touches of Sweet Harmony: Leeds Lieder's 2023 festival

Touches of Sweet Harmony: Leeds Lieder's 2023 festival

This year's Leeds Lieder Festival is the biggest ever, running from 9 to 17 June 2023 having expanded from four to nine days. Under artistic director Joseph Middleton, guest of honour Dame Janet Baker is joined by performers including Véronique Gens, Sarah Connolly,  Mark Padmore, Louise Alder, Christine Rice, Peter Brathwaite, James Newby,  Kate Royal, Ailish Tynan, Graham Johnson, Julius Drake, and Susan Manoff.

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin, Graham Johnson will be giving a lecture recital on the great song cycle with tenor Ben Johnson. The festival has commissioned Errollyn Wallen to compose a song cycle for voice and piano, Night Thoughts, which will be performed by the mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly and Joseph Middleton as part of the festival’s closing gala.

A new initiative for 2023 is the introduction of A Leeds Songbook – twelve composers from the UK’s leading conservatoires and Northern universities have been paired with Leeds-based poets to create songs that will tell unique stories about the people of Leeds. These new songs will be performed in concert by the 2023 Leeds Lieder Young Artists, postgraduate singers and pianists drawn from across the UK, Germany, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands and South East Asia.

An important strand in each festival is the Young Artists Programme. This year, twenty-four outstanding Young Artists will participate in a series of masterclasses, and perform to festival audiences at a showcase concert, a study event led by Dr Katy Hamilton and at the late-night Lieder Lounge in the informal setting of Leeds Conservatoire’s rooftop bar.

The popular Bring and Sing! event is inviting amateur singers to come together to perform Mozart’s Requiem at Leeds Minster alongside the Young Artists, and for the first time Leeds Lieder will incorporate its two award-winning Learning and Participation projects, Living Lieder and Discovering Lieder, into the main festival with two school concerts featuring nearly 1000 children at Pudsey Civic Hall.

The musical walking trail SongPath returns this year to the rich natural setting of the 900-year-old ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, led by singers Jess Dandy and Joanna Harries, and the Festival sees a collaboration with members of the Orchestra of Opera North, their Head of Music, David Cowan, and tenor Nick Pritchard in a recital of works by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Full details from the Leeds Lieder website.

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