It is one of Oxfordshire’s most important cultural festivals, respected around the world and regarded as one of the best events of its kind.
The Oxford Lieder Festival is a celebration of song, more specifically, German song – and a particularly poetic variety of song, often performed with solo voice and simple piano or more elaborate orchestral accompaniment.
This year’s festival – the 18th – runs until October 26, and is themed Tales of Beyond: Magic, Myths and Mortals.
It features over 80 events, including song recitals, piano and chamber music recitals, choral works, informal family-friendly cushion concerts, study events, storytelling, talks, film screenings and even a ghost walk and magical mystery tour.
It stars a number of world-class singers, musicians and emerging performers and will see events staged in 17 venues around Oxford – from New College Chapel and St John’s College to the Town Hall, Holywell Music Room, the Ashmolean Museum, Weston Library and the Natural History and Pitt Rivers museums.
Music comes from the masters of German ‘lied’ – Schubert, Schumann, et al – along with work by Messiaen, Wagner, Sibelius and more. Also included are Gerald Finzi, Cheryl Frances-Hoad and Carl Loewe. It will include two world premieres.
Artists include Camilla Tilling and Neal Davies who, together with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Jac van Steen, will give the opening recital tomorrow; Louise Alder (October 26), Ilker Arcayürek (October 25), Nikolay Borchev (October 26), Katherine Broderick (October 17, Christoph Prégardien (October 13), Benjamin Appl and Rowan Pierce (October 20) and Thomas Oliemans (October 15).
The festival’s artistic director, Sholto Kynoch, says: “I am thrilled that such an amazing array of artists will be coming to Oxford for this unique fortnight of exuberant, spine-tingling music and poetry.
“Our theme this year offers a rich array of possibilities: from Nordic myths to mysterious hauntings and magical happenings.
“Our fantastically wide-ranging series of additional events are designed to give audiences a genuine insight into the music and poetry we will be showcasing from across many centuries and countries.
“This year’s spectacular opening night concert in the splendour of Oxford’s Town Hall, launches a star-studded season, during which performances take place all over the city, from intimate song in the historic Holywell Music Room to the beautiful Grade I-listed church of St John the Evangelist. Amidst the glorious surroundings of Oxford, the informal and friendly atmosphere of the festival remains paramount.
“If you’re coming to the festival for the first time, you can be assured of a warm welcome. It’s a chance to explore, make new friends, and enjoy world-class music in the heart of Oxford.”
A festival spokesman said: “The Oxford Lieder Festival is opening its doors for people to enjoy new experiences in a friendly and welcoming environment. Special events include a guided tour of the Pitt Rivers Museum’s magical artefacts and a visit to Holywell Cemetery to learn more about the many well-known figures who are buried there including the Sanskrit scholar and philologist Max Müller.
“Oxford will be full of song and a wider than ever range of venues are being used for this year’s events, meaning that the festival truly inhabits the city.”
Tickets from oxfordlieder.co.uk or call the box office on 01865 591276.