Patrons: Sir Thomas Allen CBE, Malcolm Martineau OBE
Artistic Director: William Vann
Trustees: Katie Bray, Matthew Kay, Jonathan Langridge, William Vann
The London English Song Festival (LESF) was founded in 2011 under the direction of conductor and pianist William Vann to promote and celebrate the performance and knowledge of the wide and varied repertoire of English Song and Oratorio in London and throughout the U.K.
In this country we have often been reticent in championing English and British music, a reluctance which the LESF aims to redress. Our performances and recordings 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 first concerts at The Forge in Camden, and we now attract a wealth of internationally renowned artists at our performances and recordings. Those who have performed at the LESF include Allan Clayton, Sarah Fox, James Gilchrist, Dame Ann Murray, Kathryn Rudge, Toby Spence, Henry Waddington, 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 was be our largest project to date, resurrecting 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.
Plans for 2022 and beyond include recording and reviving Parry’s neglected cantata Prometheus Unbound and performances of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde in London.
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 and to the brilliant team of LESF trustees.