English Song

Muriel Dickson, my first singing teacher, formerly of the Metropolitan Opera Company, was a good pianist and loved working on art song, from all countries. Art song is the foundation
for all expressive singing.

Dame Eva Turner, my second teacher, perhaps best known for her performances of dramatic soprano operatic roles, always ended her recitals with art song and knew some of the composers very well. Roger Quilter kindly asked her and her companion to come and live with him after her house in London was bombed in the London Blitz. She declined graciously but was touched by his offer, which I read in her personal letters after her death.

Dame Eva said, To sing song to one’s audience, in a natural way, in a language with which they are intimate, was a great joy to me.” 

‘…Art song has now been born

Created from lived experiences. Happiness shared, or sadness hidden

In wonderful clouds of sound until it floats down unbidden

With its true painful face revealed.

These truths are made possible in ‘Song’.’

extract from Song by
Linda Esther Gray

“An event entirely devoted to English Song is therefore a very exciting and special event. I wish The Ashburnham English Song Awards every success, and I wish a great deal of fun to every singer and every pianist taking part. There is something very special about communicating in one’s own language; an inner depth of understanding and of meaning is possible when we communicate in the language in which we think and in which we dream.” 

Nigel Foster

“My love of English song came when I was in my late teens.  Roger Quilter ignited it with his Go Lovely Rose, followed by Parry’s Crabbed Age and Youth. I sang the Quilter, with my sister Jennifer playing, at the Hastings Musical Festival and we won the Song Prize. At the Royal College of Music I discovered Gerald Finzi and so it went on. So much gorgeous poetry. It wasn’t until I went on to the Guildhall that Ivor Gurney came into my life. English song often got a bad press but I found many pearls and when I discovered the Britten song cycles there was no stopping me. English Song played a huge part in our recital life.” 

Ian Partridge  |  Ianpartridge.co.uk

“Communication through words is a vital element in performance, whatever the genre. Giving the words as much importance as the music transforms a performer’s communication skills. Really knowing what you are singing about, and what the emotions are behind the words, colours the voice. There is a wealth of song in the English language. We at the AESS encourage all young singers to explore this vast repertoire through both words and music. I am so pleased that this exciting new competition has encouraged the singers tonight to do this.” 

Sarah Leonard  |  The Association of English Singers  and Speakers

“I am so delighted to learn about The Ashburnham English Song Awards. For too long English song has been the ‘Cinderella’ of song repertoires, though there is such a wealth of superb music to explore, discover and perform. My hope is that the Ashburnham English Song Awards will make a lasting contribution to redressing this situation and I shall support it wholeheartedly.” 

Julius Drake  |  juliusdrake.com

“The world of song is a musical reflection of life itself. Like a miniature canvas bringing together in an instant the beauty of the landscape, the scent of a flower or the innocence of young love. Either as audience members or performers we can find in English song something of ourselves or our pasts to reconnect with.” 

Kate Royal  |  www.kateroyal.net