News Archive (2022)


The theme of this year’s Oxford Lieder Festival (14th – 29th October) is Friendship In Song: An Intimate Art.’ Its artistic director, Sholto Kynoch has devised an innovative and wide-ranging programme whose “aim is to explore friendships between composers, poets and performers, to recreate the intimate atmosphere of the salon, and generally enjoy a festive spirit of conviviality and shared experience. World-renowned artists mingle with the best of the new generation, and the great works of the song repertoire are complemented by new music and new discoveries.”

Ian Venables, Leah Broad: In Conversation

Friday 21st October 2022, at 11 am in St Edmund Hall: The Old Dining Hall

“The distinguished British composer Ian Venables speaks to Leah Broad about his musical life, interests and influences ahead of the premiere of his new song cycle for tenor, string quartet and piano in a private lunchtime concert for members of the Schubert Circle and the Friends of Oxford Lieder”. This is a free but ticketed event. For further details please visit:

Lunchtime Song Recital

Friday 21nd October at 1 pm at the Hollywell Music Room

‘Perspectives on Vaughan Williams’ in partnership with BBC Radio 3

“The Oxford Lieder Festival’s series of concerts celebrating Vaughan Williams, in partnership with BBC Radio 3 and BBC New Generation Artists, draws to a glorious close with a performance of On Wenlock Edge and the world premiere of a new work, Portraits of a Mind, by Ian Venables, described by Musical Opinion as ‘Britain’s greatest living composer of art songs.’

Commissioned by the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society to mark the 150th Birthday of Vaughan Williams, Portraits of a Mind is a companion piece scored for the same forces – tenor, string quartet and piano – as On Wenlock Edge. Acclaimed tenor Alessandro Fisher, a former Oxford Lieder Young Artist, performs both works with the Navarra Quartet and pianist William Vann.

For tickets and full details please CLICK the following links below



Premiere CD Recording of ‘Portraits of a Mind’ on Albion Records

In association with The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society, Albion Records are recording the work in November with Alessandro Fisher, William Vann and the Navarra String Quartet. This CD will also include RVW’s On Wenlock Edge, and Four Hymns: the latter in a new arrangement for piano quintet by Ian Farrington. For further information and details about Crowd Funding sponsorship please CLICK the following link:

Song Recital – ‘Oh Fair to See’

Nick Pritchard (tenor) and Ian Tindale (piano)
21st October at 10 p. m at New College Ante Chapel, Holywell St, Oxford

“Nick Pritchard ‘stops hearts and time’ (Daily Telegraph) and he closes the day in the magical surroundings of New College Ante-Chapel, joined by pianist Ian Tindale for a programme of stunning English songs by Ivor Gurney, Rebecca Clarke, Ian Venables and Gerald Finzi. Their programme concludes with Finzi’s poignant cycle Oh Fair to See.”

For tickets and further details CLICK the following link:

11th November – Requiem (Orchestral Premiere) and CD Launch at Merton College Chapel, Oxford

Benjamin Nicholas conductor and Petroc Trelawny narrator

Programme – Vaughan Williams’ An Oxford Elegy and Ian Venables’ Requiem

For Tickets and full details please CLICK the following link:

Background to the Delphian CD Recording

From a purely personal and creative standpoint the enforced Covid isolation of 2020/2 produced two important musical projects. The first was the orchestration of my Requiem. This work, commissioned by Bryce and Cynthia Somerville and originally composed for Choir and Organ was completed in 2017. It received its premiere at Gloucester Cathedral in November 2018 and following the London Premiere by the choral ensemble Evoke at Holy Trinity, Sloane Square in July 2019 it was recorded on the SOMM Records label later that year (See Newsletter: 5)

In 2020, Benjamin Nicholas, Director of Music at Merton College Oxford, asked me if I would consider orchestrating my Requiem. What an inspired idea that was and with the kind support of Kate and Patrick Aydon, who commissioned the orchestration, I began working on it in late 2020. The deadline to complete the orchestration was then brought forward when Ben proposed to record the work with Merton College Choir in partnership with Delphian Recordings, with whom he had a close association. Of course, such an undertaking could only be made possible with the support of a substantial sponsor and so it was beyond our expectations when the Morris-Venables Charitable Foundation offered to generously fund the project. By March 2021, Ben had arranged the orchestral forces and so everything was in readiness for the recording to take place in early June (See Newsletter: 5).

In addition to recording the Requiem, Ben wished to include two other works of mine, the Anthem, God Be Merciful and the Rhapsody for Organ: the Anthem having been composed in 2021 during the Covid epidemic. This came about as the result of a commission from Mr Gary Morris to write a short choral work in celebration of his partner, Robert Venables QC, being awarded a Fellowship from St Edmund Hall, Oxford. Having accepted, I set about looking for a suitable text. After spending several months reading poetry, I failed to find anything that chimed with my thoughts. Out of frustration, or quite possibly desperation, I turned to the Bible and began reading the Psalms. Amazingly, within only a few hours, I was struck by how remarkably apposite the text of Psalm 67 was, with its plea to God to restore health to the Nations and make the earth bountiful again: this message was uppermost in all our minds as we moved into 2021.

For me, hearing God Be Merciful being performed so exquisitely at the recording sessions was deeply moving, as indeed it was to see how delighted Gary and Robert were. Seeing one’s commissioners happy has always been one of the great joys of being a composer (and is a great relief when it happens!) The other works on the CD are Three Anthems, O Pray For The Peace of Jerusalem, Like as the Hart and House of the Mind by Herbert Howells; none of which have been recorded before in these brilliant string and organ arrangements, by Dr Jonathan Clinch, Howard Eckdahl and Herbert Howells himself.

To purchase the CD please CLICK the following link:–ian-venables-requiem-herbert-howells-anthems-for-choir-orchestra

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

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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 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. 



 “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