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Past Events > 2020

39. An Imperfect Tapestry: Gweneth Ann Rand & Simon Lepper

17 October 2020, 17:30 - 18:30

Following an extraordinary performance of Messiaen’s Harawi at last year’s Festival, Gweneth Ann Rand was described in The Observer as having a ‘sumptuous voice [that is] technically brilliant, verbally agile and expressive’, and that concert, also with the acclaimed pianist Simon Lepper, was subsequently selected as one of The Guardian’s Top Ten Classical Music Events of 2019.

Gweneth Ann has described today’s programme as ‘a personal reflection of Black voices and muses, stretching back in time to the Black Venus, who inspired the poetry of Baudelaire’. The Black Venus refers to the Haitian-born actress and dancer who was a muse to Charles Baudelaire, whose poetry was so memorably set by Claude Debussy. Alongside some of these Debussy songs, they perform Ravel’s Chansons Madécasses (‘Madagascan Songs’) which set poems by Evariste-Désiré de Parny. These poems were ostensibly translations of Madagascan song lyrics, but were more likely original poems written during de Parny’s travels on the island in the 1780s.

As well as traditional songs, and songs made famous by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, the programme features works by Harry Sever, Adolphus Hailstork and Errolyn Wallen, all acclaimed contemporary song writers. Harry Sever is a conductor and pianist as well as a composer, whose song ‘Tears’ sets the American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. American composer Adolphus Hailstork’s ‘Decisions’ is from his 1992 cycle Songs of Love and Justice, setting Martin Luther King Jr. Errollyn Wallen has been described by The Observer as the ‘renaissance woman of contemporary British music’ and in her ‘Peace on Earth’ she sets her own words.

This concert will be streamed completely live from the Holywell Music Room. Shortly afterwards, it will also be available to watch again (using the same ticket and link) until 1 November 2020. Click here for further information on how tickets will work this year.


Artist Portrait

Gweneth Ann Rand

Gweneth Ann Rand


Gweneth Ann Rand trained at the University of Exeter, Goldsmith's College and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. During her training she received the Maggie Teyte, Ian Fleming and Sybil Tutton Awards. She was a Vilar Young Artist at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and in 2001 represented England at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. Highlights in recent seasons include acclaimed performances of 4.48 Psychosis (The Royal Opera, Prototype Festival in New York and Opéra national du Rhin); Serena Porgy and Bess and... Read Full Biography
Artist Portrait

Simon Lepper

Simon Lepper


Simon read music at King’s College, Cambridge before studying piano accompaniment with Michael Dussek at the Royal Academy of Music and later with Ruben Lifschitz at the Fondation Royaumont. He is a currently professor of collaborative piano and a vocal repertoire coach at the Royal College of Music, London where he also in charge of the collaboarative piano course. Since 2003 he has been an official accompanist for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition Performance highlights have included an invitation from the Wigmor... Read Full Biography

Festival Passes

This event is part of a series:

Connections Across Time - A Brief History of Song

Over a packed eight days, world-class artists including Benjamin Appl, Ian Bostridge, Sarah Connolly and Roderick Williams will present some 40 concerts and events, from venues across Oxford and completely live. From the comfort of your own home, you will be able to enjoy these concerts live-streamed in the highest quality. We’ll be exploring every possible advantage of this temporary ...

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