20th Oxford Lieder Festival – 8 to 23 October 2021

Nature’s Songbook – 20th Oxford Lieder Festival from 8 to 23 October 2021 

  • Oxford Lieder, the UK’s biggest festival of song, marks its 20th year with its most ambitious programme to date, featuring more than 100 events, both in-person and livestreamed
  • 20 new works will be premiered across the 20th-anniversary season, including five major song cycles
  • World-class singers and pianists, alongside emerging stars, take to the stage for song recitals, complemented by piano, chamber and choral works
  • An extensive series of Song Connections events forges links between music, poetry, nature, art, language and science, ensuring multiple access points to the world of song
  • A flexible range of ticket prices starting at just £3 for online streaming access, with a choice of discounts & concessionary rates, makes the Festival accessible to all.

The Oxford Lieder Festival (8 – 23 October 2021) will celebrate its 20th anniversary this autumn with a thrilling fortnight of exploration, discovery and inspiration. For this festive immersion in the magical art of song, an astonishing array of more than 200 singers, instrumentalists and speakers will appear in 108 events, encompassing the great song cycles of Schubert and Schumann, freshly minted new works, the riches of fin-de-siècle Paris, the epic landscapes of Scandinavia and the vibrant sphere of American song.

The 20th Oxford Lieder Festival builds on previous successes with Nature’s Songbook, a fortnight of world-class music and poetry with the theme of nature as the starting point. At a time when nature has played an increasingly important part in many people’s lives, we are reminded of how many poets and composers have been steeped in and inspired by nature and used it as a metaphor for every aspect of life. This vast range of music and poetry will gently steer the Festival programme, including an exciting collaboration with Oxford Botanic Garden to mark their 400th anniversary.

Artists coming to Oxford to perform this year include Dame Sarah Connolly and Julius Drake who, together with Emerging Artists Charles Cunliffe and Gus Tredwell, will give the opening recital on 8 October. Other world-leading singers appearing at the Festival include Benjamin Appl (16 Oct), Ian Bostridge (11 Oct), Katherine Broderick (12 Oct), Dietrich Henschel (12 Oct), Christopher Maltman (23 Oct), Thomas Oliemans (15 Oct), Christoph Prégardien (18 Oct), Dorothea Röschmann (14 Oct), Carolyn Sampson (15 Oct), Anna Stéphany (21 Oct), Camilla Tilling and Roderick Williams (10 Oct), Robin Tritschler (22 Oct) and Elizabeth Watts (9 Oct) amongst others.

The cream of the new generation includes BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2017 Catriona Morison, Simon Bode, Marie-Laure Garnier and Stuart Jackson, as well as newly appointed BBC New Generation Artists Konstantin Krimmel and Helen Charlston. As part of its 20th anniversary celebrations and Song Futures programme, Oxford Lieder has committed to commissioning, co-commissioning or premiering 20 new works over the coming year, including major new song cycles by Tom Coult (18 Oct), Laurence Crane (13 Oct), Brett Dean (13 Oct), Cheryl Frances-Hoad (20 Oct), and Kate Whitley (15 Oct).

Song remains the focus throughout the Festival, but is complemented by carefully chosen chamber and choral works. Artists include Fenella Humphreys and Martin Roscoe, Pavel Kolesnikov and Samson Tsoy, Charles Owen, Ben Goldscheider, Adam Swayne, the Armida Quartet, the Albion Quartet and others. Jonathan Dove performs with Nicky Spence and the choir of The Queen’s College for a programme of his own music, including The Passing of the Year.

The Festival also continues to open its doors for people to enjoy new experiences in a friendly and welcoming environment. A host of popular Song Connections events reveals links between the world of song and a wide array of other fields including: a discussion of birdsong in nature and music led by eminent ornithologist John Krebs; representations of the ocean in song, led by Katy Hamilton with marine biologist and author Helen Scales; SongPath walking tours of the Oxford Botanic Garden; and an exploration of physician poets in song and the use of poetry by Edward Jenner to persuade people of the safety of vaccines in the early 19th century, led by Natasha Loges with Sir Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group

Throughout Nature’s Songbook, the Oxford Lieder Festival presents the highest quality of performances at affordable ticket prices. Following the huge success of its fully ticketed online Festival in 2020, all events will also be livestreamed. Prices have been held for several years and this year a flexible range of prices enable the Festival to offer livestreamed events from as little as £3 and thousands of in-person tickets for £13 or less. There is also a generous range of concessionary rates offered to anyone booking multiple events, and online tickets for streamed events are available at £5 for under-35s.

This year’s venues are St John the Evangelist Church, the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building at St Hilda’s College, Merton College Chapel, the Holywell Music Room (Europe’s oldest concert hall), and the Oxford Botanic Garden.

Sholto Kynoch, Artistic Director of Oxford Lieder Festival, says: ‘It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since a group of student friends put on a series of song concerts and called it a Lieder Festival! The Festival may have changed beyond recognition in some ways, but that friendly, welcoming spirit remains at its heart, as does the spirit of adventure and excitement. I’m thrilled to mark this anniversary with our most ambitious programme to date, which I was determined should not be thwarted by recent travails. Buoyed by our extraordinary followers and supporters, and our amazing artists, we press ahead with optimism: determined to celebrate, to give opportunities to our younger colleagues, to create new music, to forge new connections, and to bring great music to people whether they are with us in person or tuning in from around the world.

To book tickets online (click here) or phone the Box Office on 01865 591276.

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