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Composers of the Great War: A WWI Centenary Commemoration

Venue: St George's Church, Hanover Square, W1S 1FX


  • Songs by Bliss, Butterworth, Gurney, Harty, Moeran, Parry and Vaughan Williams


Alexander Sprague
Gareth John
William Vann

The Great War affected the lives of so many across the world: art and artists were never the same again. The composer and head of the Royal College of Music Hubert Parry, who died in the Spanish ‘Flu epidemic that followed the war, saw an entire generation of composition pupils either killed or badly affected by the effects of the conflict: his biographer, Professor Jeremy Dibble, gives a pre-concert talk before tenor Alexander Sprague, 2013 Kathleen Ferrier prizewinner Gareth John and Artistic Director William Vann give the third recital of this year’s London English Song Festival. Songs by Parry himself are set alongside those by composer who saw active service: among them George Butterworth, who lost his life at the Battle of the Somme, Arthur Bliss who was twice wounded and gassed, Hamilton Harty who rose to the rank of lieutenant in the Royal Navy and Ralph Vaughan Williams, who chose to enlist as a private even though he could have avoided service.

6.45pm: Pre-concert talk by Professor Jeremy Dibble

NB. Please note venue

The London English Song Festival was set up in 2011 under the direction of multiple award-winning pianist William Vann to promote and celebrate the performance and knowledge of the wide and varied repertoire of English Song in London and throughout the U.K. This year, the LESF will be held between 5 and 11 June in the historic and musically important churches of St James’s, Piccadilly and St George’s, Hanover Square, and we are thrilled that the festival will be opened on 5 June by Ann Murray giving a recital with Artistic Director, William Vann, in St James’s. On 6 June we celebrate the sixtieth birthday of Professor Judith Weir CBE, one of the country’s finest song-writing composers, featuring exciting young artists Katie Bray and Johnny Herford with a pre-concert talk given by the composer. A third recital on 10 June commemorates the one-hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War given by Alexander Sprague and Kathleen Ferrier prizewinner Gareth John, including the academic insights of Professor Jeremy Dibble beforehand. The 2014 programme concludes on 11 June with tenor Allan Clayton and the Navarra Quartet performing a sumptuous array of songs for tenor, string quartet and piano.

The LESF is grateful to its sponsors, who include the Kathleen Ferrier Society, the Lennox Berkeley Society and the Association of English Singers and Speakers, and to Sir Thomas Allen and Malcolm Martineau for their support and patronage.

Part of London English Song Festival 2014

Ann Murray, mezzo-soprano, Alessandro Fisher, tenor & William Vann, piano

Internationally-renowned mezzo-soprano Ann Murray DBE and Artistic Director William Vann give the opening recital of the London English Song Festival 2014. They are joined on stage by tenor...

Judith Weir 60th Birthday Concert

The British composer Judith Weir celebrates her 60th birthday in May and this concert brings together some of her finest works for voice and piano alongside those by her contemporaries and...

Allan Clayton, tenor, Navarra String Quartet & William Vann, piano

The combination of tenor and string quartet has proved a productive source of inspiration for countless composers of English song and tonight Allan Clayton, one of England's finest young singers, the...

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£12. Students/children: £5

Season discount: buy all four LESF concerts for £50 (plus complimentary programme) – see series page for details.

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