News Archive (2018)

‘Looking Back’ and Looking Forward

Although the worldwide Armistice Day commemorations held on the 11th November 2018 marked the official 100th year anniversary of the ending of the Great War sporadic outbreaks of hostilities continued until the  formal ending took place with the signing of The Treaty of Versailles on the 28th June 1919. To coincide with the climax to the 2018 commemorations, The Philomusica of Gloucestershire performed a concert of remembrance music in Tewkesbury Abbey on the eve of Armistice Day. The concert included the composer’s large-scale choral work, ‘Awake, awake, the world is young’ Op.34. 

This work was commissioned by  the Charlton King’s and Cirencester Choral Societies to mark the Millennium in November 2000 and the texts reflected  the composer’s hope that this significant moment in history might bring into sharper focus humanities more noble aspirations. Indeed, the sentiments expressed in both the Tennyson and Flecker poems are those that we all hope for at the start of each New Year.’

The composer’s own response to the WW1 commemorations was his 2016 song cycle Through These Pale Cold Days’ for tenor, viola and piano. Since it’s premiere in June of that year this work has been performed several times both here in the UK and in the USA. In October 2018 it was the centrepiece of a WW1 Commemorative song recital performed by James Gilchrist with the pianist Benjamin Frith and cellist Richard Jenkinson. Its most recent performance was given in San Francisco last November sung by the acclaimed tenor, Brian Thorsett.

Latest Music Scores From Novello

Five Songs of War and Remembrance for voice, viola and piano


New Publications from Music Sales: The Chester Vocal Anthology


The composer’s songs feature in a new series of song anthologies published by Chester Music. In three separate volumes for, soprano, tenor and bass twenty-four popular songs have been selected from the major exam boards syllabuses, spanning Grades 5 to 8 and beyond. Both the Soprano and Bass, anthology; includes the song ‘Flying Crooked’ and the Tenor anthology contains the song, ‘Because I liked you better’ (from Songs of Eternity and Sorrow).


The performance notes for the soprano volume are written by Mary Bevan and Joseph Middleton. The programme notes for the tenor album by James Gilchrist and Anna Tilbrook and the notes for the bass album by Donald Maxwell and Angela Livingstone.

For further details please click the following LINK

‘Lest We Forget’ – A Commemorative Concert To Mark The End Of The Great War 

Sunday 7th October at 3pm

The Countess of Huntingdon’s Hall, Deansway, Worcester

With James Gilchrist (tenor), Benjamin Frith (piano) and Richard Jenkinson (‘cello)

Worcester Live in association with the Elgar School of Music and the Worcester Concert Club present a commemorative concert to mark the end of the Great War. Featuring some of Britain’s best loved songs by Vaughan Williams, Butterworth, Gurney and Finzi, the concert will also include a performance of Ian Venables’ powerful and moving song cycle ‘Through These Pale Cold Days’, commissioned by the Limoges Trust for the City of Worcester.

Violin Sonata – Premiere at the Athenaeum, Pall Mall

October 23rd at 12.30

Sasha Rozhdestvensky and Josiane Marfurt

Sasha Rozhdestvensky is considered one of Russia’s finest young violinists. He has worked with many of the world’s renowned conductors, including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Yuri Bashmet, Jean-Claude Casadesus, Valery Gergiev, Vernon Handley, Jacques Mercier, Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Gerard Schwartz. The composer’s Violin Sonata was written especially for Sasha and for this premiere performance he will be joined by his wife, the distinguished pianist Josiane Marfurt.

The Daily Telegraph – Simon Heffer’s ‘Hinterland’ Column 

Earlier this year, the composer was featured in a major profile by Professor Simon Heffer in his ‘Hinterland’ column for The Daily Telegraph. Professor Heffer, wrote, “Venables, … writes exquisite chamber music in the English style of Howells or Ireland; he has been acclaimed by independent-minded critics as the finest writer of art songs since Gerald Finzi”.

The article reviewed two of the composer’s most acclaimed CD’s. The first, ‘The Song of the Severn’ (Signum Classics) was recorded in 2016 by Roderick Williams, together with the Carducci String quartet and pianist Graham J. Lloyd. Professor Heffer remarked, “Venables sets to music verse by often forgotten poets, from John Clare to John Masefield; to hear them is to hear something reflective, brooding, melancholy and unmistakably English”.

The second disc was SOMM RECORDS benchmark recording of the composer’s Piano Quintet and other chamber works with the Coull String Quartet and Pianist Mark Bebbington. Professor Heffer commented, “It is an exceptional work with many shifts of tone and varieties of expression, and if Venables’ excellence could be symbolised by just one piece, it would be this”.

For the FULL TEXT please click this LINK

‘Reflections on the Great War’ –  Song Recital

Sunday 30th September at 3 pm at ‘The Lieder Society of Victoria’

With Michael Lampard and Rhodri Clarke

‘Michael Lampard and Rhodri Clarke have spent the last four years exploring the music and poetry of the First World War. With a focus on the English composers of the period, as well as modern composers and song writers who have looked back on this horrific time in history. Michael and Rhodri take you on a journey of reflection, through nostalgia and some of the greatest of all English song repertoire including Ralph Vaughan Williams’ ‘Songs of Travel’ and settings of the poetry of Ivor Gurney by England’s living master of song composer, Ian Venables’ ( 3MBS – Fine Music – Melbourne)

This special commemorative recital will feature a performance of the composer’s song cycle The Pine Boughs Past Music Op.39

UK Premiere of ‘Chamber Music III” at the Athenaeum, London

The talented young musicians Estonian pianist, Maksim Stsura and Colette Boushell devised a fascinating programme to commemorate the centenary of James Joyce’s first published extracts of ‘Ulysses’ in 1918. Their recital featured the one and only song composed by Joyce, ‘Bid Adieu’ together with a number of Joyce’s poems set to music by such composers as Samuel Barber and Frank Bridge. “This concert has another exciting dimension, as it will also feature a world premiere of a work by the composer Ian Venables. Ian has set one of Joyce’s poems from his collection, ‘Chamber Music III’ to music, for piano and soprano voice”.



Mark Bebbington

Coull Quartet

  “This is a work pulsing with genuine personality in    every bar, right from its haunting, gently pastoral opening. Its language, proudly, unflinchingly lyrical, has a directness of emotional appeal, and Venables’s rhythms unfold with a sure sense of knowing where they are going.”  Christopher Morley, The Birmingham Post



Luton Music Club 

 Monday 12th March 2018 at 7.45pm

St Mary’s Church, Church Street, Luton LU1 3JF

Programme: Ian Venables: Piano Quintet Op.27 John Ireland: Piano Sonata Brahms: Piano Quintet in F minor, Op.34

Malvern Concert Club

Thursday 15th March 2018 at 7.30pm

Forum Theatre, Grange Rd, Malvern WR14 3HB

Programme: Villa-Lobos: String Quartet No.5, Ian Venables: Piano Quintet, Op.27 Brahms: Piano Quintet in F minor, Op.34

Conway Hall Sunday Concerts

Sunday 18th March 2018 at 6.30pm

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

 John Ireland: Piano sonata Ian Venables: Piano quintet, Op.27 Brahms: Piano Quintet in F minor, Op.34



Thursday 25th January at 7.30 pm

St James’s Church

Piccadilly, London W1J PLL

With April Fredrick (soprano), Darwin Leonard, (baritone), Eric McElroy (piano)

This concert is presented jointly by The Robert Graves Society and The Wilfred Owen Association. It includes a wide range of song settings of both Graves and Owen, including those by Ireland, Gurney, Bliss, Butterworth, Elaine Hugh-Jones, Eric McElroy and Ian Venables. The composer’s setting of Owen’s poem ‘The Send Off’ is taken from, ‘Through These Pale Cold Days’ Op. 46   – a song cycle, composed in 2016 to commemorate the Great War. (See below)

A New Publication from Novello (Music Sales)

‘At the Court of the Poisoned Rose’ Op.20

for Countertenor or mezzo soprano and piano

The song At the Court of the Poisoned Rose’ is a setting of a prose poem by the Scottish poetess Marion Angus (1866 – 1946). Published under the title  ‘Alas poor Queen’, the poem narrates the tragic story of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots who was manipulated by the political ambitions of those around her. Given the work’s length and sectional nature, the song is more akin to a ‘Dramatic Scena’. It was composed for the counter-tenor James Hugh-Jeffries and was first performed by him and Sarah Wilkinson in June 1996 at Cappleside, Settle. Last year it was performed by David Hurley and Roger Owens at the Three Choirs Festival, Worcester.

Reviewing the concert Richard Bratby wrote, “It’s a striking musical depiction of the struggle between love and power, and the emotional price paid by a queen who ‘loved little things and re-headed partridges, and the golden fishes of the Duc de Guise’.”

To purchase a copy please click the following link


‘Celebrating English Song’

With baritone Roderick Williams and pianist Susie Allan

“This wonderful Celebration of English Song was recorded especially for SOMM by baritone Roderick Williams deliciously partnered here by Susie Allan in a collection to gladden the hearts of all lovers of English music. This splendidly wide-ranging collection features two well-loved song cycles, Butterworth’s Six Songs from A Shropshire Lad and Finzi’s Let us Garlands bring. It also includes some of the best-known English songs of the periods before and after World War II – Ireland’s world-famous Sea Feverand Great Things and The Kiss and Flying Crooked, from Ian Venables – now widely regarded as the finest living English composer of art songs and a true successor to Benjamin Britten, represented here by two irresistible settings of English folk-songs, The Salley Gardens and The Ploughboy. Also included are songs by Quilter, Gurney, Warlock and E.J. Moeran” – SOMM

To purchase a copy or listen to audio extracts please click on the link below


A New Publication By Novello and Co.

‘Through These Pale Cold Days’ Op.46

Five Songs of War and Remembrance

for voice, viola and piano

The composer’s commemorative 1st WW song cycle has been published by Novello and Co. The work was commissioned by the Limoges Trust for the City of Worcester. Its premiere was given at the Royal Grammar School, Worcester on 30th June 2016 by Nick Pritchard, Benjamin Frith and Lousie Williams and later a 2nd performance at Gloucester Cathedral sung by James Gilchrist.

The music score is available from

Please click the following link: