London Song Festival at Actors’ Church (October 31st-November 28th)
St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden is normally assocated with actors, but this autumn it will be hosting a series of recitals of music mainly by British composers, including Ireland, Delius and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor whose anniversaries fall this year. The director and pianist, Nigel Foster, has engaged some outstanding singers and programmed a rich and varied programme of songs, both well known and very rare – unpublished in some cases. The details follow. Wednesday October 31st, 7.30pm – English and American Comedy Songs Laura Wolk-Lewanowicz (soprano), Grant Doyle (baritone) and Nigel Foster (piano) A rip-roaring opening concert to the Festival with songs by Flanders and Swann, Noel Coward, Tom Lehrer, Fascinating Aida, Jeremy Nicholas, Cole Porter and others.
Wednesday November 7th, 7.30pm – Distant and Mythical Lands – Places of the Imagination and of Dreams Roderick Williams (baritone), Maire Flavin (soprano) and Nigel Foster (piano) A programme of English and French (and Elvish!) songs ranging from Saint-Saens, Berlioz and Bizet to Finzi, Granville Bantock, Noel Coward and Donald Swann and including John Ireland’s ‘Land of Lost Content’ in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the composer’s death. Wednesday November 14th, 7.30pm – Debussy’s complete Vasnier Song book Anna Devin and Gillian Keith (sopranos) with Nigel Foster (piano) A performance of the songs that Debussy (born 150 years ago) wrote for the married soprano Marie-Blanche Vasnier with whom he had an affair from 1880 to 1887, including some unpublished songs that I have obtained from the Bibliotheque National in Paris and the Library of Congress in Washington. These 27 songs were not written as a set to be performed together, but this concert provides the first ever opportunity to hear them all in one evening
Wednesday November 21st, 7.30pm – Delius and his World Yvonne Kenny (soprano) and Nigel Foster (piano) The songs of Delius (born 150 years ago) in the context of the music of his friends and contemporaries. Though often considered a loner, this concert will show that Delius was in fact very much influenced by the work of his colleagues, and this concert places his songs alongside the work of Peter Warlock, Percy Grainger, C W Orr, Grieg, Debussy and others. Friday November 23rd, 7.30pm – The songs of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (d 1912) and John Ireland (d 1962) Gary Griffiths (baritone – winner GSMD Gold Medal), Sylvie Bedouelle (soprano) and Nigel Foster (piano) Rarely heard songs by two very different composers who celebrate anniversaries this year, including two cycles by Coleridge-Taylor (Six Sorrow Songs, and Songs of Sun and Shade), and Ireland’s epic ‘Earth’s Call’ and his triptych ‘Marigold’. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was an Anglo-African composer who died in 1912 aged 37, having fought racism, found fame as the composer of Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, and has since sunk into unjustified neglect. Wednesday November 28th, 7.30pm – Songs of Wandering and of the Night Ruby Hughes (soprano – BBC New Generation Artist), Jonathan McGovern (baritone – ROSL Gold Medallist) and Nigel Foster (piano) Programme includes Debussy’s epic ‘Cinq Poemes de Baudelaire’, Ireland’s ‘Songs of a Wayfarer’ and Mahler ‘Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen’, plus some of Schubert’s greatest Lieder.
More information is available from www.londonsongfestival.org.