Ten Years of Celebrating Song: Oxford Lieder Festival 2011

It began as a labour of love. Ten years ago, Sholto Kynoch, now Artistic
Director and driving force behind Oxford Lieder, was a postgraduate student
working with Malcolm Martineau. “It started by accident”, he says
“I just wanted to play Schubert with friends.” That first year,
they performed just the three Schubert cycles. Schubert remains at the heart of
the Oxford Lieder Festival. There are plans for a huge, ambitious Schubertiade
in 2014.

The first weekend of this tenth anniversary year is devoted to Schubert,
Every song from Die schˆne M¸llerin D. 795 to the magnificent Der
Hirt auf dem Felsen
D. 965 on the opening evening, Friday 14th October,
with Graham Johnson, Brigid Steinberger and Joy Farrell (clarinet).

Oxford Lieder does things in depth. There’s a two day series of
workshops, talks and four concerts considering “The Wagner Effect”
on art song, with particular emphasis on the songs of Franz Liszt and Hugo
Wolf. Very good speakers, including Amanda Glauert, whose “Hugo Wolf and
the Wagnerian Inheritance” is a classic. Oxford Lieder is in the process
of recording the complete Hugo Wolf song output. Volumes 1 and 2 ( the Mˆrike
songs) are already available through Stone Records. The discs are unusual in
that they feature four different singers (Sophie Daneman, Anna Grevelius, James
Gilchrist, Stephan Loges and Sholto Kynoch at the piano) and were recorded live
last year in the Holywell Music Room, with its perfect, intimate acoustic. This
year, the concert on 18th October is being recorded and will feature
Wolf’s earliest work and his settings of Keller and Ibsen.

An intensive three day series on Swedish Song follows from 21st October.
Oxford Lieder has a tradition of presenting Scandinavian music. This year, Miah
Persson, Anna Larsson, and HÂkan Vramsmo will be singing Rangstrˆm, Sjˆgren,
Nystroem and Grieg . There’ll also be premieres of two new works, by
Tobias Brostˆm and Carin Bartosch Edstrˆm. HÂkan HagegÂrd will present one of
two masterclasses in Swedish song and be on hand for a screening of Ingmar
Bergman’s film of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, in which
he sang Papageno.

Although the Oxford Lieder Festival operates on a shoestring, it makes a
point of supporting new work. This year’s composer in residence is
Charlotte Bray, whose work will feature in three separate concerts, culminating
with a new song cycle specially commissioned by Oxford Lieder, to be premiered
on 27th October by Roderick Williams. There’s a composition workshop on
the same day, led by Professor Robert Saxton.

The Oxford Lieder Festival is supported by many major singers, like Wolfgang
Holzmair, Florian Boesch, Sir Thomas Allen, Sarah Connolly, Dame Felicity Lott,
James Gilchrist and Roderick Williams, all of whom will be giving keynote

Fundamental to the Oxford Lieder ethos, however, is the idea of nurturing
new talent. Each year there’s a two week residential masterclass for
pairs of singers and pianists. developing practical performance skills.
Participants attend the whole Festival, so it’s intensive, but rewarding.
They also give their own concert. There’s also a Young Artists Platform
which gives awards and opportunities for singers and pianists to perform year
round. This concept of practical performance means a great deal to Sholto
Kynoch. He loves “the buzz between performer and audience, that allows
you to put across what you want to with the music”. He adds, with
enthusiasm, “That two-way dynamic is something I’ve tried very hard
to get at the Festival, and I think it’s one of the festival’s
strongest features.”

Most concerts take place in the Holywell Music Room, where Mozart and Haydn
once performed. It’s perfect for Lieder because its size allows
particularly close communication between performers and the audience. For many
that intimacy might be intimidating, but Kynoch’s personality encourages
performers to give of their best. He gives over 70 concerts a year, as pianist,
but he’s also a charismatic organizer. The “Oxford Lieder
Family” atmosphere, involving both audience and performers, is part of
its unique charm. Everyone is valued, whether a big star or a non-professional.
There are even workshops for amateurs and part-song recitals in the street to
attract people who don’t yet realize how much fun singing can be.

For more details, please see the Oxford Lieder Festival website.

Anne Ozorio

image_description=Holywell Music Room [Source: Wikipedia]
product_title=Ten Years of Celebrating Song: Oxford Lieder Festival 2011
product_by=By Anne Ozorio
product_id=Above: Holywell Music Room [Source: Wikipedia]