This special Songbook programme is a rare opportunity to hear a hand-picked selection of 17 songs for soprano and small ensemble, commissioned over a ten year period from the late 1980s by composer/BCMG Artist-in-Association John Woolrich and soprano Mary Wiegold. In addition we celebrate the 75th Sound Investment premiere since the commissioning scheme launched in 1992.

In total, around 200 works were commissioned for The Songbook by inviting composers to write a ‘song’ (whatever that suggested to them in terms of choice of text, duration and musical language) and not a piece of vocal chamber music.

Along with distinguished soloists Gillian Keith and Rebecca von Lipinski, BCMG presents a programme focusing on songs from the collection by European composers (plus an American and an Argentinian) in a concert that helps to establish these pieces as part of the repertoire. Complementing these will be a new ‘song’ by Gerald Barry, himself a brilliant writer for voice as anyone who heard BCMG’s European premiere performances of his acclaimed opera The Importance of Being Earnest in April 2012 will know.

Today, Woolrich and Wiegold’s Songbook compendium is a portrait of what a wide range of composers were up to at the end of the 20th century. Most British composers are represented in the collection, plus music from many other countries, and not just contemporary classical: there are songs by jazz composers (Mike Garrick, Keith Tippett) and rock composers (Joby Talbot and Elvis Costello).

This performance is generously supported by The Radcliffe Trust.

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