‘Ring out the old, ring in the new’
The beginning of a new year is always a time of reflection – a time to ‘ring out the old, ring in the new’. This sentiment by Alfred Lord Tennyson has a particularly spirited and hopeful resonance as 2022 begins. It is predicted that this year will see a retreat of the Covid epidemic and a return to a more normal pattern of daily life. Optimism is finally returning to the world of music and the performing arts. For myself, I saw a glimmer of a revival last year, when the postponed Worcester 2020 Three Choirs Festival was held in July. Against all odds, the festival mounted an impressive week-long programme, that marked, what I hope will be the beginning of a resurgence in classical music concerts. Although, ‘Lockdown’ saw the cancellation of all live music, it was inspiring to see how many organisations and musicians responded to the catastrophe by arranging ‘online’ events. It was heartening to watch recitals streamed live from The Oxford Lieder Festival and The London Song Festival.
Over the past year I have been in very fortunate position to be able to continue working on a number of projects. One of them was a commission from Patrick and Kate Aydon to orchestrate my Requiem (see below). This project took many months to complete but by June it was ready to be recorded by Delphian Records, performed by Merton College Choir, with orchestra, conducted by Benjamin Nicholas.
It was a remarkable ocassion in many ways, not least, because the choir had to be ‘socially distanced’. The producer, Paul Baxter, had a bank of microphones positioned along the whole length of the chapel, placed seperately in front of every choir member and instrumentalist. It is such a wonderful recording that one does wonder whether the socially distanced regulations will have an impact on the way choral and orchestral recordings are made in the future?
The Requiem will be released on the Delphian label at the end of June this year. In addition to the Requiem the CD also includes the premiere recording of the composer’s Anthem God Be Merciful : a setting of Psalm 67, composed in 2020 and Rhapsody for Organ Op.25 together with Herbert Howells’ anthems ‘Like at the Hart’, ‘O pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ and ‘House of the mind’.
A Memorial Tribute to Michael Brewer
Cellist Richard Jenkinson and pianist Graham J.Lloyd perform Ian Venables’ Elegy Op.2
Michael Brewer who sadly died in 2020 during the Covid epidemic was one of the Midlands’ leading artists agents. Michael was a warm-hearted and generous man who was tireless in helping musicians secure concert engagements and recital work. He had a deep love and knowledge of music and his charming personality brought people together. Michael will be sorely missed by his many friends but especially by those musicians who were fortunate to have worked with him.
A Facebook page is dedicated to Michael’s memory. Through it, his roster of artists will continue his legacy by offering the best of classical musicians for recitals, concerts and events.
For further information please click the link below
Latest Issue of The Organ Magazine : British Organ Music of the last Half-Century – 1970-2020 –
Ian Venables writes on his Rhapsody Op. 25 ‘In memoriam Herbert Howells’ (1996)
My only foray into the world of solo organ music is my Rhapsody Op. 25 ‘In memoriam Herbert Howells’ which was written in 1996. Having been an organist in a ‘previous life’, it seemed only fitting for me to venture into this ‘new world’ and write a work for this most magisterial of instruments. Having already written an accompanied anthem O sing aloud to God and having since written a Carol, a further anthem God be merciful (my response to the present Covid pandemic) and a full scale Requiem (recently orchestrated), it would be fair to say that the organ has played a small, but significant role in my life as a composer.
The idea for writing the Rhapsody sprang from two sources. The first was from the dedicatee of the work, John Wilderspin: erstwhile organist, pianist, choral trainer and teacher, whom I knew from my days at the Royal Grammar School in Worcester, and who as official organist, had access to that establishment’s marvellous three manual Nicholson. The second was my continuing love of the music of Herbert Howells: I had played a number of his works in the past (one even in recital!) and his influence on my music has not gone unnoticed by either critics or reviewers. For the Full article please CLICK HERE
It is always gratifying for a composer when a work finds its own way in life. The Rhapsody has been performed all over the world, and has been recorded twice (the first by Adrian Lucas at Worcester Cathedral on the Regent Label; the second by Benjamin Nicholas at Merton College will be released on on the Delphian Label in June. For the published score by Novello (Wise Music) please see below.
To purchase please CLICK HERE
RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS SOCIETY 150th Anniversary Commission
Ian Venables has been awarded a major commission from the RVW Society to celebrate Vaughan Williams’ 150th Anniversary in October this year. The composer is especially delighted with this prestigious commission as RVW’s music has been one of his lifelong passions and guiding influences. Ian Venables has agreed to write a song cycle, for tenor, string quartet and piano.
The work will consist of five settings of poems specifically chosen to reflect various aspects of RVW’s life and creative concerns.
The cycle will recieve its premiere in the Autumn at the the Oxford Lieder Festival.
Further details of this concert will soon be posted on the forthcoming ‘Performances’ Page.
THE DELIUS SOCIETY
The Delius Society has invited several leading British composers to write a short work to celebrate the 160th anniversary of Delius’ birth. The commissioned composers’ remit is to compose a work that will broadly complement Delius’ own music, life and and interests. Ian Venables has chosen to set a text by the great 19th century American poet, Henry Wadswoth Longfellow.
The new work, entitled Hermes Trismegistus – Scena for soprano, viola and piano will receive its premiere in London on June 26th 2022 at the RAM in a programme that will also include several other works by Delius.
The concert will be performed by professional musicians and winners of The Delius Prize.
Further details will be posted on the Performances Page in due course.
RECENT CD RECORDINGS
FROM NAXOS RECORDS: THE ENGLISH SONG COLLECTION.
“Rich, diverse, acclaimed”
This handsome box set brings together all 25 recordings that formed the acclaimed Naxos ‘English Song Series’.
Ian Venables’ CD recording ‘On the Wings of Love’ was the first in the series by a living composer.
To discover more, including a short YouTube promotional video CLICK HERE