Venables: Song of the Severn US premiere

Venables: Song of the Severn US premiere
On June 11, the Cincinnati Song Initiative hosts the US premiere of The Song of the Severn Op 43, the evocative song 2013 song cycle from Ian Venables. American baritone, Tyler Alessi will be joined by Belinda Burge (viola), Amy Gillingham (cello), Scott Jackson (violin), and Samuel Martin (violin) performing in the newly-founded initiative’s first ever summer concert.

The cycle is a setting of texts by John Masefield, A. E. Housman, John Drinkwater, Philip Worner and evokes the rich landscape about the River Severn, which runs through the composer’s adopted home county of Worcester, England. Detailing in his accompanying programme notes, Venables says:

From the outset, I decided that the river should narrate the story of the Worcestershire landscape – a landscape that has inspired countless composers and poets down the centuries. Indeed, I am reminded of Owen Sheers’ eloquent description of landscape poetry. It can “speak about us – the people who live in, look at and remember the places … which have, in turn, remembered us; as individuals, as communities, as history.” In this way, ‘Landscape’ can reflect so much of ourselves, our past, our associations and our memories. It is just waiting for the poet to discover and so “illuminate that which we thought we already knew, and make us see that which we thought we’d already seen.”

Read the full programme note here

The US premiere performance of Song of the Severn will take place at Armstrong Chapel, Cincinnati, Ohio at 3pm on June 11. Book tickets

Cincinnati Song Initiative

Cincinnati Song Initiative was founded to bring a concentrated and cohesive source of art song to the greater Cincinnati area. Dedicated to providing unique experiences through the power of poetry and music, each performance creates a sense of relevance and active engagement between performers and audiences. This is achieved not only through song, but also through spoken dialogue by the artists, which provides a context and historical background that connects audiences to the repertoire. Concerts take place at different venues throughout the Queen City in order to connect with its many vibrant communities and explore all it has to offer.

About Ian Venables

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.

Full biography |

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