Songs of Travel

A passport to the imagination – songs: those glorious vignettes that combine the best of poetry, the miracle that is the sung human voice and the distinctive colours and textures that a piano can offer.

-LoveMusicPass talk to Joseph Middleton, Director of Leeds Lieder-

Could you tell us what influenced you to choose ‘Songs of Travel’ as the title for this year’s Festival?

I guess all songs are Songs of Travel to a greater or lesser extent. As we sit in the concert hall, in the comfort of our own home or even on the move, ears plugged into headphones, songs are inviting us to travel with the poet and composer, to enter into the inner sanctum of their creative partnership. Through the manipulation of sound, our imaginations are fired, for each of us the response to the music and words different. It’s a broad theme of course for a Festival, but then the pleasure has been in receiving programme ideas from artists all responding differently to this open-ended brief.

The Festival is a veritable feast of concerts, talks and masterclasses. Difficult I know, but are there any highlights that you’d like to talk about / things you are particularly looking forward to? 

One of the joyous experiences of music-making is the sharing of ideas across generations, countries and cultures. The internationally acclaimed jostle alongside rising stars, and platforms are given to the next generation of singers, pianists, poets and composers. It is a particular delight to welcome three of our Patrons to be heavily involved in the weekend: the much-loved soprano Dame Felicity Lott joins us as “Guest of Honour”, her long-standing duo partner Graham Johnson performs for us twice and Richard Stokes will inform and delight our audiences with erudite talks and his illuminating programme notes.

Leeds Lieder has always been a great supporter of young talent. There are many events for (and featuring) young artists this year. Can you tell us a bit about the Festival’s commitment to young performers? 

Poetry remains at the heart of our activities, and our unique Composer and Poet programme will this year produce ten new collaborations. The Festival commission has been written by Iain Bell, a composer much in demand with opera houses across the globe. To give the première it is especially satisfying to welcome Yorkshire-born Rowan Pierce, an alumna of the LL masterclass programme. She is to be accompanied by Leeds Lieder favourite Roger Vignoles who will also lend his considerable knowledge to other young pianists and singers in our Festival masterclass. Poetry will also form the basis for Timothy West’s workshop, another Yorkshire-born artist whose impressive career has seen him travel widely.

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