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The Art Song Society

    Since its launch in October 2015, the ESM Art Song & Opera Society has stayed true to its mission, namely to promote classical  singing to a wider audience in Worcestershire. Quality lectures and master classes, presented by the likes of Professor Julian Pike, Ian Venables  and Opera veterans, Alan Fairs & Maria Moll, all proved to be very successful. The Society's 'Winterreise Project', led by John Jenkin in 2016 , involved no fewer than 22 different singers and pianists ! Today we are extremely proud to announce that English composer, Ian Venables, has agreed to be our patron. We are grateful for his willingness to share his expertise with the Elgar School of Music.

Our Patron Ian Venables studied music with Richard Arnell at Trinity College of Music, London and later with John Joubert, Andrew Downes and John Mayer at the Birmingham Conservatoire. His compositions encompass many genres, and he has added significantly to the canon of English art song. Described as “…Britain’s greatest living composer of art songs…” (Musical Opinion and  “…a song composer as fine as Finzi and Gurney…” (BBC Music Magazine), he has written over 60 works in this genre, which includes eight song-cycles. His many chamber works include a Piano Quintet Op.27 (1995) - described by Roderic Dunnett in the Independent as “…lending a new late 20th Century dimension to the English pastoral…”, a String Quartet Op.32 (1998) and more recently a Canzonetta Op.44 for clarinet and string quartet (2013). He has also written works for choir - Awake, awake, the world is young Op.34 - organ - Rhapsody Op.25 (1996), brass and solo piano. He is an acknowledged expert on the 19th century poet and literary critic John Addington Symonds, and apart from having set five of his poems for voice and piano, he has contributed a significant essay to the book John Addington Symonds - Culture and the Demon Desire (Macmillan Press Ltd, 2000).  His continuing work on the music of Ivor Gurney has led to orchestrations of two of his songs (2003) - counterparts to the two that were orchestrated by Herbert Howells - and newly edited versions of Gurney’s War Elegy (1919) and A Gloucestershire Rhapsody (1921), with Dr Philip Lancaster. He is President of the Arthur Bliss Society and Vice-President of the Gloucester Music Society and Chairman of the Ivor Gurney Society. His music is published by Novello and Co and has been recorded on the Regent, Somm, Signum and Naxos labels. Please visit and

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