The 21st Oxford Lieder Festival, Friendship in Song: An Intimate Art, invites you to explore song as an art form that grew up among friends, often at special and sociable gatherings, and inspired many composers’ most personal and profound works. We explore friendships between composers, poets and performers, recreate the intimate atmosphere of the salon, and generally enjoy a festive spirit of conviviality and shared experience. World-renowned artists mingle with the best of the new generation, and the great works of the song repertoire are complemented by new music and new discoveries.
The Festival gets off to a stunning start with a recital in the Sheldonian Theatre given by Kate Royal, Christine Rice and Julius Drake, a stellar trio who perform songs and duets by Brahms, Schumann and Kurt Weill. We welcome the thrilling French soprano Patricia Petibon for the first time, with pianist Susan Manoff. James Gilchrist and Anna Tilbrook celebrate 25 years of friendship and collaboration with a programme of Schumann and Britten. Another exceptional French soprano, Marie-Laure Garnier, stunned audiences last year and returns with duo partner Célia Oneto Bensaid and the Quatuor Hanson for a performance of Fauré’s La bonne Chanson. The Dutch baritone Thomas Oliemans performs as both singer and pianist, reviving a lost tradition of intimate music making. The ensemble Schubert & Co. make a welcome return.
The tenor Mark Padmore will be our Artist in Residence, giving a number of concerts and other events during this week, and returning in Week Two to lead the Mastercourse.
We begin a new collaboration with the 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 (winner of the 2021 Kathleen Ferrier Awards), oboist Nicholas Daniel and baritone James Atkinson. Our international friendships also continue to grow with young artist exchanges with the International Lied Festival Zeist in the Netherlands and the LIFE Victoria Festival in Barcelona.
A series of lute song concerts explores that most intimate ancestor of the modern song recital, featuring Benjamin Appl with Thomas Dunford, Helen Charlston with Toby Carr, and Mark Padmore with Elizabeth Kenny. Christopher Purves joins the Choir of The Queen’s College at the Freud café-bar on Walton Street to recreate elements of the 18th-century ‘Catch Clubs’ and the original Academy of Ancient Music.
The lunchtime series focuses on Vaughan Williams in his 150th anniversary, with a series of four recitals given by BBC New Generation Artists past and present, including Ailish Tynan, Kathryn Rudge, Alessandro Fisher and William Thomas, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. Various related concerts and study events run in parallel.
Three study days complete the opening weekend. Natasha Loges explores the rich history of salon music making, not only as glamorous social gatherings but also safe spaces for new or forbidden ideas. Gavin Plumley discusses Richard Strauss and the importance of song and domestic music making throughout his long life. And Philip Ross Bullock examines both Sir Isaiah Berlin and the important cultural friendships he fostered, and the contemporary Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov.
Week Two begins with a glorious Schubert Weekend. Graham Johnson gives a lecture-recital on Schubert’s Friends and Contemporaries. Mark Padmore gives his final performance as this year's Artist in Residence (before moving on to lead the Mastercourse) with the great Austrian pianist Till Fellner. We welcome the world-renowned German tenor Werner Güra for the first time. Other artists include Birgid Steinberger, Katharina Ruckgaber and Martin Hässler. We take a brief diversion from Schubert to enjoy an all-Dowland recital by the counter-tenor Iestyn Davies, appearing at the Festival for the first time with lutenist Thomas Dunford.
The main evening recitals during the rest of the week are also a who’s-who of internationally renowned recitalists. Roderick Williams and Susie Allan perform Beethoven, Schubert and Josephine Lang. Camilla Tilling and Paul Rivinius devote their programme to the huge influence of Jenny Lind, the ‘Swedish Nightingale’. Christoph Prégardien is joined by his son Julian Prégardien and pianist Michael Gees for their immensely popular ‘father & son’ programme. Other welcome returns include the great German soprano Dorothea Röschmann with Malcolm Martineau, and the ever-popular Carolyn Sampson with Joseph Middleton. The Festival draws to a glorious close with Dame Sarah Connolly, Patron of the Schubert Circle, and Eugene Asti.
From Monday to Friday, eight duos from our Young Artist Programme will take part in the Mastercourse, which will be led by Artist in Residence Mark Padmore. Each duo will work daily with Mark, as well as with guest tutors Julius Drake, Susan Manoff and Simon Lepper. The students give their final concert on the closing day of the Festival, which is always a hugely popular and uplifting event.
Highlights of the Week Two lunchtime concerts include the extraordinary Chinese soprano Yajie Zhang, in an all-Mahler concert with pianist Hartmut Höll, the bass-baritone Michael Mofidian with Keval Shah, and American tenor Joshua Stewart with Deirdre Brenner. The rush-hour series includes performances by tenor Stuart Jackson, the Castalian String Quartet, and a new jazz-infused cycle by pianist-composer Will Bartlett, setting poems by Philip Larkin and sung by jazz legend Norma Winstone. The Choir of Merton College perform the Fauré Requiem on the closing day.
We are also thrilled to introduce the British-Chinese composer Alex Ho as our new Associate Composer. Alex will write two major new song cycles this year and next. For this Festival, he will write for the mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron and pianist Kunal Lahiry, setting a specially-commissioned text by Singaporean poet Theophilus Kwek.
More information and registration : https://www.oxfordlieder.co.uk/