Photo: Frances Marshall

As the autumn nights draw in, our thoughts turn to the 18th annual Oxford Lieder Festival, which runs between 11th – 26th October. The theme this year is ‘Tales of Beyond: Myths, Magic and Mortals’, taking us on a bewitching journey from life to death (and everything in between) through the medium of song over the course of the festival fortnight.  Once again Hazard Chase artists will be performing across Oxford over the course of the festival, which has been curated by Artistic Director Sholto Kynoch.

Opening the festival on Friday 11th October will be soprano Claire Booth, who joins pianist Christopher Glynn and musicologists Daniel Grimley and Heather O’Donoghue for an Edvard Grieg study day. The event will be filled with tales of Old Norse legends and mythical landscapes, interspersed with songs and featuring a complete performance of Grieg’s only song cycle, ‘Haugtussa’.  Later on Friday 11th October, Jess Dandy performs extracts from Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s Beowulf, based on Seamus Heaney’s translation of the medieval epic. Jess will be joined by pianist Dylan Perez and the composer herself, who has recently taken up her position as Associate Composer of the festival.

To mark the 150th anniversary of Carl Loewe’s death, Martin Hässler joins soprano Christina Gansch and accompanist Sholto Kynoch for a Symposium on the composer on Saturday 12th October. The study event will see Martin perform works by Loewe alongside the lieder of Schubert and Schumann for what promises to be an engaging and highly informative discussion.

On Friday 18th October, Kitty Whately and pianist Simon Lepper present an evening of magic and drama entitled ‘Fairy Tales: Stanford to Sondheim’. They will take the audience on a mystical journey from Stanford’s ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ to a selection of songs from Sondheim’s musical ‘Into the Woods’, including a new work from the American composer Juliana Hall.

Tenor James Gilchrist and accompanist Anna Tilbrook welcome the weekend with a performance of Schubert lieder on Saturday 19th October. Part of a Schubert study event, they will be joined by pianist Imogen Cooper and musicologist Lorraine Byrne Bodley to explore the composer’s untimely death and his unique meditations on life and mortality, which came to be realised in his music.

On Sunday 20th October, tenor Daniel Norman joins Sholto Kynoch and the acclaimed Brodsky Quartet for two performances of Vaughan Williams’ song cycle ‘On Wenlock Edge’. The work will be performed live alongside a new animated film from puppeteer Jeremy Hamway-Bidgood, in what is proving to be one of the most popular events at the festival!

Oxford Lieder Young Artist Jess Dandy returns once again on Wednesday 23rd October for a lunchtime recital of ‘French Fables’. Accompanied by Sholto Kynoch, the all-French programme features settings of Baudelaire and will include the world premiere of Associate Composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s ‘Une Charogne’.

For more information on the Oxford Lieder Festival, and to purchase tickets, visit: https://www.oxfordlieder.co.uk/