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Oxford Lieder Festival’s 21st Year

Various venues in Oxford

October 14-29

This year’s Oxford Lieder Festival will contain nearly 80 events. The Festival’s title, Friendship in Song: An Intimate Art, focuses on song as an art-form that grew up around the piano, at social gatherings and salons, among friends. Nearly 200 singers, instrumentalists and speakers will appear in 76 events, encompassing the great works of the repertoire alongside new works and exciting discoveries. Artists include Kate Royal, Christine Rice and Julius Drake, who give the opening recital on October 14; Thomas Oliemans, accompanying himself in a performance of Winterreise; James Gilchrist and Anna Tilbrook who celebrate 25 years of musical partnership; Birgid Steinberger and Julius Drake; Roderick Williams and Susie Allan; Camilla Tilling and Paul Rivinius; Dorothea Röschmann and Malcolm Martineau; Carolyn Sampson and Joseph Middleton; and Dame Sarah Connolly with Julius Drake. Artists appearing for the first time include Sarah Wegener and Götz Payer; Patricia Petibon, with Susan Manoff; Werner Güra and Christoph Berner; and Julian Prégardien, with his father Christoph Prégardien and Michael Gees.

The Festival includes a series of lute-song recital: Helen Charlston appears with Toby Carr; lutenist Thomas Dunford with Benjamin Appl and Iestyn Davies. Mark Padmore performs with Elizabeth Kenny. On October 17, Christopher Purves, Rowan Pierce and the Choir of The Queen’s College will recreate an 18th-century ‘Catch Club’ at Freud’s bar.

Mark Padmore will also be the Festival’s Artist in Residence, giving an all-Schubert recital with Till Fellner, as well as a lecture on Britten’s poets and an in-conversation with Kate Kennedy. He will lead the residential Mastercourse for Oxford Lieder Young Artists.

The Festival begins less than a week after the 150th birthday of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Four live-BBC-broadcast concerts are by Kathryn Rudge, William Thomas and Ailish Tynan, concluding with Alessandro Fisher, William Vann and the Navarra Quartet performing On Wenlock Edge and a new by Ian Venables, Portraits of the Mind, commissioned by the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society – see the composer’s article on this new work in this issue.

The middle weekend is dedicated to Franz Schubert – an annual feature until the Schubert bicentenary in 2028. Its centrepiece will be a lecture-recital by Graham Johnson, tracing this year an exploration of Schubert and his friends in 1822, joined by Esme Bronwen-Smith, winner of the 2022 Kathleen Ferrier Awards.

The new generation artists include soprano Marie-Laure Garnier, mezzo-soprano Yajie Zhang, countertenor Hugh Cutting, baritone James Atkinson and soprano Jessica Cale. Mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron and Kunal Lahiry will give the premiere of A Place Called Paradise, by British-Chinese composer Alex Ho, Oxford Lieder’s new Associate Composer, and Singaporean poet Theophilus Kwek.

International partnerships include Beethovenfest Bonn (75th anniversary of the twinning of Oxford and Bonn), presenting Schumann’s Dichterliebe (James Atkinson and Sholto Kynoch), Elena Langer’s Landscape With Three People (Anna Dennis, Nicholas Daniel et al.) and an abridgement of Thomas Mann’s novella Tonio Kröger read by Sir Thomas Allen.

Song Connections events include: SongPath at Oxford Botanic Garden; an exploration of salon music-making by Natasha Loges; a tour of Trinity College; a visit to the Leonid Pasternak collection; several events related to Vaughan Williams and his contemporaries; Strauss’s life in song with Gavin Plumley; and ‘Transcultural Encounters’, led by poet Jennifer Wong with Alex Ho, Fleur Barron and Kunal Lahiry. Late-night events include the Oxford Gargoyles at Freud’s, folksongs and a ‘Musical Nightcap’ at the Mad Hatter plus several recitals.

Some events are free or priced at £3-£5; there are thousands of tickets for £15 or less. There is a generous range of discounts offered to anyone booking multiple events, and tickets are available at £5 for under-35s to all events. Venues include St John the Evangelist Church, the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building at St Hilda’s College, the Levine Building at Trinity College, the Holywell Music Room), Convocation House, Divinity School, the Oxford Botanic Garden, Leonid Pasternak Collection, Freud Café, the Mad Hatter bar, and several college chapels.

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