Oxford International Song Festival 2024 – 11 to 26 October

Oxford International Song Festival
Cities of Song: People, Places, Music
11 to 26 October 2024

In its 23rd year, Oxford International Song Festival announces its most ambitious programme to date. Across 70 events, audiences can hear world-leading artists, discover bright new talent, and explore some of the cities that inspired and influenced composers via a series of insightful ‘Song Connections’ events. Music ranges from the Baroque to the present day, and the song recitals are complemented by chamber and choral music performances.

Some of the best-known singers appearing include Roderick Williams (opening the Festival on 11 October), Carolyn Sampson, Dame Sarah Connolly, Christoph Prégardien, Christian Gerhaher, Elizabeth Watts, Stéphane Degout, James Gilchrist, Lucy Crowe, Helen Charlston and Nicky Spence. They are joined by pianists Natalie Burch, Gerold Huber, Joseph Middleton, Julius Drake, Anna Tilbrook and many others, including Oxford Song’s Artistic Director Sholto Kynoch. Singers appearing for the first time include Holger Falk, Erika Baikoff, Will Liverman and Heidi Stober.

The central weekend of the Festival is devoted to the songs of Franz Schubert. Graham Johnson continues his seminal survey of the composer’s final years, 200 years on. Katy Hamilton explores Schubert’s Vienna. Recitals are given by Christian Immler, Sophie Karthäuser and Johannes Held, as well as performances of Die schöne Müllerin with Hiroshi Amako and Winterreise with Christopher Maltman.

Away from the classical song canon, artists include RPS Award-winning sitar player Jasdeep Singh Degun with tabla player Sanju Sahai, and the return of soprano Marie-Laure Garnier and pianist Célia Oneto Bensaid with a programme that includes spirituals, cabaret songs and jazz-inflected works.

Chamber music performances are given by the Doric, Castalian and Chaos String Quartets, Ensemble 360 and Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective. The choirs of Worcester College (Partner College 2024) and Merton College also perform. 25 years of BBC Radio 3’s pioneering New Generation Artists scheme is celebrated at the Festival with four concerts featuring former and current New Generation Artists, presented by Ian Skelly and recorded for future broadcast.

The world premiere of a new work by Can Bilir, Silent Song of Josefine, will be given by Mimi Doulton and Dylan Perez, framed by an event exploring Kafka’s Prague. Inspired by Kafka’s short stories, it was commissioned by Oxford Song in collaboration with the Bodleian Libraries as part of the Oxford-wide Kafka celebrations, Kafka’s Transformative Communities. The Festival also includes Kurtag’s Kafka Fragments performed by Claire Booth and Tamsin Waley-Cohen and a tour of the exhibition Kafka: Making of an Icon.

Indian-American composer Reena Esmail’s settings of Sanskrit verses from the Bhagavad Gita, also commissioned for the 2024 Festival, draw out the essence of Vedantic thought. Jess Dandy and Keval Shah join forces to premiere this unique reimagining of India’s most celebrated and influential scripture.

As well as Kafka, the Festival marks the anniversaries of Fauré, Byron, Schoenberg and Yvonne Loriod. Masterclasses will be led by Anne Le Bozec, and study events will be given by Richard Wigmore, Natasha Loges, Philip Ross Bullock and others.

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