Iain Burnside

Iain Burnside
Artistic Director
Ludlow English Song Weekend

Welcome to the Ludlow English Song Weekend, one of Britain’s most idyllic musical celebrations.

What a fabulous festival we have just enjoyed. Outstanding performances, a premiere of a new LESW commission by Alex Woolf, wonderful audiences and even the sun managed to shine on us for most of the weekend. Don’t forget you can listen again to some of the concerts on BBC Radio 3 from 14th – 17th May at 1.00pm.

We’re already underway planning for 2020 and we’ve set the dates – 3rd, 4th and 5th April – so put it in your diary and register for pre-ticket sales here (via our friends at Ludlow Assembly Rooms).

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The Ludlow English Song Weekend is a unique music festival in one of the UK’s loveliest places.

About Us

The Ludlow English Song Weekend is the place to hear superlative performances of English songs.

What's On


Some of Britain’s finest singers of English classical song will be performing for the weekend.


Details for how to get in touch with us at the Ludlow English Song Weekend can be found here.

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Observer review of the Ludlow English Song Weekend 2019

by Fiona Maddocks

Vaughan Williams was well represented at the Ludlow English song weekend, together with some two dozen other composers past and present, from Michael Tippett, Rebecca Clarke and Elizabeth Maconchy to, working today, Eleanor Alberga, Edward Rushton and Alex Woolf. The enormous parish church of St Laurence, nicknamed “the cathedral of the Marches”, resounded to three days of concerts. Each presented a wealth of English poetry set to music, not least by AE Housman, whose ashes (continuing this week’s burial theme) are in the church. One concert, When Smoke Stood Up from Ludlow, consisted of different settings from his A Shropshire Lad by a dozen different composers, including Gerald Finzi, whose music first inspired the founding of a festival.

In a new partnership with English National Opera, the talented lineup of singers – Rowan Pierce, David Ireland, Soraya Mafi, William Morgan, Alex Otterburn, Elgan Llŷr Thomas – were all Harewood Artists, some juggling commitment to ENO’s current Jack the Ripper.

The excellent Bath Camerata, conducted by Benjamin Goodson, whose appointment as chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir was announced last week, performed a rewarding programme of choral works (by Will Todd, Huw Watkins, Roderick Williams), culminating in Jonathan Dove’s exuberant settings of poems on nature, transience and renewal, The Passing of the Year.

In an unusual departure, Scotland’s Sean Shibe, in his mid-20s and already one of the world’s top classical guitarists, showed the beauty of combining voices and solo guitar. If you doubt that there’s a current resurgence of song in the UK, just look around: this Ludlow festival, like Leeds Lieder later this month and, in the autumn, Oxford Lieder, each run by creative pianists-programmers, goes from strength to strength. It’s even said we lead Europe in this renaissance. Listen out for concerts from Ludlow, coming soon on Radio 3.

Ludlow English Song Weekend ★★★★

Imagine a weekend in beautiful historic Ludlow, immersed in the endlessly fascinating and beguiling world of English poetry and song, where songs centuries old and songs freshly composed are performed, investigated, discussed, and keenly listened to. It's a rare and complete joy.

Sir John Tomlinson

Latest News

Response to the Ludlow English Song Weekend 2019 by our chairman

Our chairman, Professor Anthony Pinching, has written his thoughtful responses to what was a wonderful weekend of music making.

Read the full review here

Concerts broadcast on BBC 3

14 – 17 May 1.00pm
BBC Radio 3

Don’t forget to listen to the broadcast of some of our concerts which were  recorded by BBC Radio 3 and introduced by Ian Skelly. Broadcast dates are 14 – 17 May at 1.00pm.

The Heart’s Assurance: Henry Moore through music

Friday 10 May 7.30pm
The Wallace Collection

Pianist Iain Burnside is joined by three internationally acclaimed young singers – soprano, Nadine Benjamin; tenor, Nicky Spence and baritone, Gareth Brynmor John.

In this programme we showcase Moore’s encounters with composers Benjamin Britten, William Walton and Igor Stravinsky and also explore through song, the turbulent times Moore lived through, his experiences and some of the ideas central to his work. Joint curator of the Henry Moore: Helmet Heads exhibition, Tobias Capwell, will join Iain in conversation to illuminate and discuss the connections between Moore and the music performed.

Henry Moore: The Helmet Heads will remain open to 8pm. Tickets can be booked in advance online or in-person on the evening.

Book tickets now

Sean Shibe late night recital at Wigmore Hall – softLOUD

Friday 28 June 2019 10.00 pm
Wigmore Hall

Acoustic and electric, ancient and modern, traditional and innovative… Sean Shibe brings modern classic Electric Counterpoint (Steve Reich) together with mellow, old and new tunes; the driving sound of Julia Wolfe’s LAD (originally for 9 bagpipes) plays against the gentle melancholy of Peter Maxwell Davies’ hugely popular Farewell to Stromness. Join him as he goes electric, fusing ancient ambient Scotland with pulsating modern New York.