Chelsea Celebrates John Ireland Anniversary

United KingdomUnited Kingdom  June Festival to Mark 50th Anniversary of Ireland’s Death (RJ)

“John Ireland – what does that name mean to music-lovers fifty years after his death?” asks cellist Julian Lloyd Webber. “Sadly not as much as it should, for he is a wonderful composer whose music really does – for once – merit that oft-abused phrase ‘unjustly neglected.”

One can only hope that this month will lead to a better appreciation of the musical legacy of this English composer born in 1879 who lived in Chelsea for over 50 years and died in a converted windmill in Sussex in June 1962.

To mark the 50th anniversary of his death, the John Ireland Trust is mounting a five-day Festival over 21st – 25th June, in two Chelsea churches where Ireland was organist: St Luke’s, Sydney Street and Holy Trinity, Sloane Square.  Cellist and Ireland exponent Julian Lloyd Webber is the Festival’s patron and David Wordsworth is Artistic Director.

The Festival will feature music ranging from the beginning of Ireland’s career – his Sextet for Clarinet, Horn and String Quartet of 1898 – to the last music he wrote down – a moving, rarely performed setting of Psalm 23 The Lord is my Shepherd. This will be sung by Roderick Williams on 22nd June, in a programme which also includes the first public performance of Alexander L’Estrange’s anthem My Song is Love Unknown, a homage to Ireland’s most famous hymn tune.

The Festival programme will of course include such popular Ireland works as The Holy Boy, The Downland Suite, and his iconic setting of Masefield’s poem Sea Fever.  Rarely heard piano duet arrangements of two of his orchestral works will also feature as well as the monodrama Annabel Lee, to be performed by the acclaimed actor Timothy West, who will also read from Ireland’s letters.

Artists taking part include the newly formed London Soloists Ensemble, the Berkeley Ensemble, singers Roderick Williams, April Fredrick, Kitty Whately, Andrew Staples, pianists John Lenehan, Mark Bebbington, Matthew Hough, Maria Marchant, Janet Obi-Keller, David Wordsworth, as well as East London Brass, the Addison Singers, the Bernardi Chamber Orchestra, violinist Rupert Marshall-Luck, and cellists Julian Lloyd Webber and Jiaxin Cheng.  The choirs of St Luke’s and Holy Trinity can be heard at special Sunday Evensongs on 17th and 24th June.

The Festival offers an unrivalled opportunity to sample Ireland’s works, familiar and unfamiliar, and those of his teacher Stanford and pupils Benjamin Britten, E J Moeran, Alan Bush, Geoffrey Bush, Richard Arnell, and Helen Perkin.

The venues for the concerts are St Luke’s Church, Sydney Street, London SW3 6NH and Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street, London SW1X 9BZ. Full details of the programme and online ticket sales can be found at:, tel: 020 7730 4500. For more information about John Ireland, refer to The John Ireland Trust website at: or contact Bruce Phillips at:


Roger Jones