Patrons: Sir Thomas Allen CBE, Malcolm Martineau
Artistic Director: William Vann
The London English Song Festival was founded in 2011 under the direction of multiple award-winning pianist William Vann to promote and celebrate the performance and knowledge of the wide and varied repertoire of English Song in London and throughout the U.K.
Following a popular opening season, it has grown from strength to strength, adding pre-concert talks and bring a song sessions to its programme and, in 2013 for the first time, educational workshops. Counting tenor James Gilchrist among its artists, it has featured some of the finest classical artists performing in the U.K. today.
The LESF is grateful to its sponsors, who include the Lennox Berkeley Society and the Association of English Singers and Speakers, and to Sir Thomas Allen and Malcolm Martineau for their support and patronage.
Following hugely successful seasons in 2011 and 2012, the London English Song Festival returns this May for four concerts celebrating the 100th birthday year of Benjamin Britten with a twist. The opening gala concert will be in the spectacular setting of the Wren Chapel of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, with the remaining dates taking place at The Forge, Camden. William Vann, Director of Music of the Royal Hospital and award-winning pianist, will conduct and accompany a talented group of singers and instrumentalists performing works by more than twenty five composers.
The 2013 Festival opens with the Royal Hospital Chapel Choir performing Britten’s brilliant Flower Songs (just a couple of weeks before the Chelsea Flower Show) alongside part-songs and madrigals by some of England’s finest composers, including Gibbons, Parry and Stanford. This single act, hour long concert will be followed by a glass of bubbly outside in the cloister walk.
We then return to the intimate setting of The Forge in Camden for three song recitals. The first, Songs of the half-light, explores the intriguing contrast between music written for voice and guitar, and for voice and piano: the featured composers are Benjamin Britten, Lennox Berkeley and the less known Mathias Seiber, a Hungarian who adopted England as his country in 1955. The festival continues with a recital exploring the world of English folk song, including a pre-concert talk that explores the intriguing overlap between the worlds of traditional folk song performance and the art song influenced traditions. Benjamin Britten, Vaughan Williams and Cecil Sharp feature prominently, the latter two being, of course, important figures in the preservation of the English folk song traditions. The final recital, fittingly called Songs of the night, features Britten’s A Charm of Lullabies alongside other songs that explore the world of dreams and nightmares. The Forge is the perfect place to explore song repertoire on a May evening with a capacity of only a hundred and an attached restaurant and bar.
More information about booking tickets is on the back of this flyer: tickets are frozen at last year’s prices: only £14 (£11 conc.) when booking in advance. Or you can reserve a seat for every concert with a festival ticket: only £45 (£35 conc.) for all four evenings!
Bring a song
2012 saw the launch of “bring a song” sessions for amateur singers. These fifteen minute slots are a fantastic change to sing on the stage of The Forge – a spectacularly good accoustic in which to perform – and experience recital performing first hand. As in 2012, William Vann will be at the piano and there will be time to run through the song more than once and also work on details in a mini-masterclass style. There are only sixteen slots in total so book early to reserve a place via the LESF website, giving your contact details, availability and an idea of repertoire – ideally English song, of course!