Ian Venables

b. 1955



Ian Venables has been described as ‘Britain’s greatest living composer of art song’ (Musical Opinion)‘and ‘a song composer as fine as Finzi and Gurney’ (BBC Music Magazine). Writing tonal music in a warm lyrical vein he has composed over 60 works in this genre, including eight song cycles. He has ‘an extraordinary gift for identifying with the poetry he is setting, reflecting the poet’s battered hopes, yearnings and aspirations, and catching the intensity and pathos of the moment’ (Musical Opinion). Beyond the world of art-song he has written many chamber works that include a Piano Quintet Op. 27 and a String Quartet Op.32, as well as smaller pieces for solo instruments and piano. He has also composed works for choir, piano and organ.
Critical Acclaim

'His voice is original and expressive: he may be inspired by the English masters, but he is not derivative of them.' - Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph 

'A song composer as fine as Finzi and Gurney' – BBC Music Magazine

'Ian Venables, the Worcester-based composer [...] has so deservedly inherited the mantle of the recent past's great setters of English poetry.' – Christopher Morley, The Birmingham Post

'…Britain’s greatest living composer of art songs…' – Musical Opinion

'…Venables can certainly pen a memorable melody,…there’s no mistaking the emotion slumbering beneath the surface…' – Gramophone

'…there is no mistaking the emotional and technical strength in Venables’ songs, besides their very real beauty…' – Classic FM

'…English art song’s melancholy legacy finds its voice in composers such as Venables…' – The Observer


Described as ‘Britain’s greatest living composer of art song; (Musical Opinion) and ‘a song composer as fine as Finzi and Gurney’ (BBC Music Magazine), he has written over 60 works in this genre, which includes nine song-cycles, Venetian Songs - Love’s Voice Op.22 (1995); Invite to Eternity Op.31 (1997) for tenor and string quartet; Songs of Eternity and Sorrow Op.36 (2004) for tenor, string quartet and piano; On the Wings of Love Op.38 (2006) for tenor, clarinet and piano; The Pine Boughs Past Music Op.39 (2009) for baritone and piano; Remember This Op.40 (2011) a Cantata for soprano, tenor, string quartet, and piano; The Song of The Severn Op.43 (2013) for baritone, string quartet and piano;Through These Pale Cold Days Op. 46 (2016) for tenor, viola and piano; and The Last Invocation Op. 50 for tenor. Other songs for solo voice and piano include, Two Songs Op.28 (1997) and Six Songs Op.33 (2003) as well as a dramatic scena At The Court Of The Poisoned Rose Op. 20 (1994).

His songs have been performed by national and international artists that include: Andrew Kennedy, Patricia Rozario, Roderick Williams, Nick Pritchard, Nicky Spence, Benjamin Appl, Ian Partridge, Howard Wong, Nathan Vale, Daniel Norman, Mary Plazas, Michael Lampard, Brian Thorsett, Allan Clayton, Peter Savidge, Peter Wilman, Elizabeth Atherton, Nicholas Mulroy, Kevin McLean Mair, Helen Massey, Keira Lyness, Susan Anne-Jenkins, Der-shin Hwang, Helen Meyerhoff, Sally Porter Munro, Caroline MacPhie, Benjamin Hulett, Geraldine McGreevy, Lucy Hall, Alessandro Fisher, Matteo Placidi and Kristian Sorensen



2nd August 2024

Philharmonia Orchestra; Three Choirs Festival Youth Choir
Worcester, United Kingdom