Leeds Lieder Plus Festival: Guest post by Nico de Villiers

Pianist and vocal coach, Nico de Villiers, enjoys a busy career performing around the world as well as coaching at the Leeds College of Music and the Junior Department of Trinity College of Music in London. We share a common love for Lieder, so it was only natural for me to highlight this rather exciting festival at the Leeds College of Music on October 14th 2012. It is held at Leed’s University and features world class singers and accompanists (of which Nico is one) who are performing a very varied programme. Here is Nico’s overview of this interesting venture.

To The New World and Back

Every two years a Yorkshire-based Lieder association holds a festival in the autumn. Each Leeds Lieder+ Festival has a different artistic director, which have included world renowned collaborative pianists Malcolm Martineau, Iain Burnside, Roger Vignoles and Julius Drake. At such a festival a group of outstanding singers of international repute and legendary status are assembled (Dame Felicity Lott, Dame Janet Baker, Elly Ameling, Barbara Bonney, Dame Margaret Price. Maeshe Bruggergosman, Florian Boesch to name but a few) to perform and present a weekend of recitals, talks and masterclasses. Arrangements for the festival of 2013 is underway and will be lead by the highly acclaimed Graham Johnson.

However, much nearer in the future is the Day of Song on Sunday 14 October. The theme of the day is the USA and Europe. Three song recitals form the main structure of the day. The day starts with a programme of songs by three European composers who have either emigrated or lived in the USA. Romanian mezzosoprano Adriana Festeu and I will perform songs by Dvorak, Korngold and Adriana’s fellow countryman, Enescu.

Back to the Future is the title of the afternoon recital by soprano Sarah Leonard and pianist Stephen Gutman. They will celebrate the American song tradition with songs by a.o. Bolcom, Barber and Ives. The evening’s recital will be full of passion when baritone Benedict Nelson and pianist Gary Matthewman perform a programme that is to include Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe and various songs by the English Romantic composers.

Other events on the day include world premiere performances of songs by composers and poets of universities in the area that specially collaborated with Leeds Lieder+ for the Day of Song. There will be a special presentation by John Pryce-Jones remembering Dame Margaret Price, playing recordings of various of her performances of songs by for instance Schubert and Strauss. In a session entitled Songs under the Magnifying Glass I will be working with Katie Conner, a postgraduate student at the Royal Northern College of Music and Andrew McAllister, a recent graduate of Huddersfield University. This will be a coaching session open to the public, giving an insight to the audience of some of the work that goes on behind the scenes in preparation of a recital programme.

All details of the day is to be found on the  Lieder+ website when you follow the link to the 2012 Day of Song page. The prices per event vary, but the whole-day package costs £55 (£45 for concessions). Should you or anyone near to you be in the Leeds are on 14 October, do not be shy to pop in at any or all of these events at the Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall at the University of Leeds.


Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.

For more information, please visit the publications page, here.

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