Iain Burnside

Iain Burnside
Artistic Director
Ludlow English Song Weekend

Ludlow English Song Weekend 2021 will be a LIVE festival featuring six events on 29 and 30 October

The Ludlow English Song Weekend has been postponed from April to 29/30 October 2021.  We want to keep it live, no Zooming or streaming, so we’ve pushed it back by six months to allow the situation to continue to improve and hopefully allow even more of you to come along.  We are very lucky that St Laurence’s Ludlow, the Cathedral of the Marches, lends itself so well to accommodating an audience in its’ open, airy spaces.  We will continue to cap numbers to allow you to be comfortable but still cheering on live performances.

We’ve had to plan the festival with some restrictions still in mind.  The compromise we propose is to shorten the Weekend, running it from Friday afternoon to Saturday teatime. That way, if you’re coming for the whole experience you can choose whether to get home that night or stay on for the whole weekend. It also enables us to make the numbers work. (Yes, Steve got out his calculator as well.) We have had to add a little to ticket prices, but are trying our damnedest to keep them within reason.

And what performers we have for you. Roddy Williams kicks us off in style, with the wonderful mezzo Kathryn Rudge, pride of Liverpool and first time Ludlow visitor, rounding us off. Natalya Romaniw was recently crowned RPS Singer of the Year and is the UK’s hottest vocal property. Any prizes left over by Natalya have been hoovered up by Benson Wilson, New Zealand born Samoan baritone. I’m so excited to hear his burnished tones in English repertoire. Rhian Samuel joins us as composer in residence, guiding an intriguing group of young composers. Katy Hamilton will lead a discussion with fiercely intelligent guests. There is no masterclass this year, so our first concert on Saturday afternoon showcases not only those young composers but also a group of wonderful emerging singers from the RCM. To them are entrusted our premieres: Rhian’s The Moon and I and Fallen, a new cycle by Philip Lancaster, to specially written poems by John Greening. Fallen ties together various LESW strands, and is cast for the unusual combination of tenor and unaccompanied violin. Michael Foyle is our luxury casting violinist. Finally let me mention Gamal Khamis, joining me on the piano stool, as it were, as recipient of the first ever Finzi Fellowship.

We thank the Finzi Trust for their wonderful generosity in endowing this award, as we thank our other sponsors and supporters – most named, some anonymous. Without them, we could not survive. We’re asking you too to help us through such a difficult year. Please buy tickets, please join us and let your applause raise this spectacularly beautiful roof. We are champing at the bit to welcome you to Ludlow.

Full programme on the “What’s On” page and tickets are bookable via “Book Tickets” page – and selling fast.  We’re updating which tickets/concerts are likely to sell out due to the capped numbers.

Iain Burnside
6 July 2021

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