Patrons: Sir Thomas Allen CBE, Malcolm Martineau OBE
Artistic Director: William Vann
The London English Song Festival (LESF) was founded 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 and, subsequently, Oratorio in London and throughout the U.K.
It is a very English thing to be reticent about championing our own music, and the LESF aims to redress the balance. Perormances explore less well-known areas of the repertory as well as the classics: as part of 2015’s celebration of the songs of Ralph Vaughan Williams we heard songs that may not have been performed in this country for many decades. Our Songs of the Somme show in 2016 at Wilton’s Music Hall broke new ground in the field of dramatised performance, bringing together film from the Imperial War Museum archives, art song and music hall numbers from the war years and profound poetry by some of the most renowned war writers.
The LESF has grown from strength to strength following our early performances at The Forge in Camden, and we now attract internationally renowned artists such as James Gilchrist, Dame Ann Murray, Roderick Williams and Iain Burnside. We are also committed to engaging and supporting the next generation of emerging artists. By doing this, the LESF offers valuable performance opportunities to the top graduates from the country’s music colleges, challenging and encouraging them on their journey to becoming professional musicians.
Indeed, the educational aspect of the festival is hugely important to all involved: you can read more about that by following the Education tab.
Our 2019 revival of Parry’s oratorio Judith will be our largest project to date, and will resurrect one of the most important of all neglected works of English music for a live audience, and for audiences across the world through our partnership with Chandos Records.
The LESF is hugely grateful to its supporters, from the regular concert-goers to those who are able to provide financial assistance. Thanks go also to Sir Thomas Allen CBE and Malcolm Martineau OBE for their support and patronage.