Christina Gansch

Disappointed that Oxford Lieder’s Spring Song was cancelled? Don’t be – you can now enjoy a reduced version of the week’s events online.

While you’re social distancing, Oxford Lieder is bringing you Social DistanSong – and that’s a whole lot more fun.

On what would have been the opening day of the Spring Song week – Oxford Lieder has been posting daily online performances, talks and interviews that give a taste of the programme that had been planned for the festival, featuring artists who had been scheduled to take part.

These daily postings will continue until Saturday April 4, when this virtual festival will close with a live Facebook interview with festival founder and artistic director Sholto Kynoch, who will be taking your questions. 

Sholto Kynoch

It’s a wonderful attempt to make the best of a terrible situation, and will allow audiences to enjoy at least part of a mini-festival that has grown both in size and popularity over the years.

“We started off more than a decade ago doing a spring season, and we were doing one concert a month,” says Sholto. 

“That changed gradually into the Spring Weekend of Song, and we’ve been doing that for about four or five years.”

The week-long Spring Song event was intended to give more prominence to the Young Artists Platform and to allow the young participants to immerse themselves in song for a week. 

Dorottya Lang

“It’s always had its identity as the Young Artist Platform,” Sholto says. “It was always where we put the Young Artist Platform auditions and a masterclass, then we had three concerts in the evenings and it was all relatively low key. 

“Then we made the decision to expand, and the main focus of it now is the residential mastercourse.

“I felt that in the main context of the festival in October it was getting a bit lost – there’s so much going on that students weren’t really getting the focus from the public because people weren’t able to go to many of the classes.

“The advantage of the week-long spring festival is the students get more observers and their final concerts can be in the evenings instead of being tucked into the lunchtime slots. It shifts the focus and makes it all about them.” 

Now, of course, that has all been disrupted for this year, but Sholto is determined to bring interesting and varied online content to audiences in place of the ‘real’ festival. 

Saturday’s programme features soprano Ailish Tynan singing Grieg’s Ein Traum, plus a surprise encore, while Helen Abbott, Professor of Modern Languages, and musicologist Natasha Loges give adapted versions of the talks they were due to give as part of the ‘Poetry Making Song’ study day, complete with links to relevant songs. 

James Baillieu – Credit Kaupo Kikkas

Sunday’s offering features Austrian soprano Christina Gansch singing songs by Mahler, accompanied by Sholto, and there is a link to Christina’s Social DistanSong Playlist on Spotify.

You can also see clips of masterclasses with Joan Rodgers, who would have been doing the mastercourse at the festival, and there are links to films about Mahler and Berg by Gavin Plumley.

Mezzo Dorottya Lang and pianist Julius Drake perform Dvorak’s Songs my mother taught me on Monday’s programme, and there are links to them performing Schubert and Brahms live in Vienna. There is also an interview with Sholto, and you can click on the link to Dorottya’s Spotify playlist. 

Julius Drake Pianist Photo: Marco Borggreve

These early offerings are still available to view, and there are plenty more goodies lined up for the rest of the week. 

Go to Oxford Lieder’s homepage, www.oxfordlieder.co.uk, click on Social DistanSong and away you go. Enjoy!

NICOLA LISLE

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