IAN VENABLES (b 1955 )
Ian Venables was born in Liverpool in 1955 and was educated at Liverpool Collegiate Grammar School. He studied music with Richard Arnell at Trinity College of Music, London and later with Andrew Downes, John Mayer and John Joubert in Birmingham. His compositions encompass many genres, and in particular he has added significantly to the canon of English art-song. Described as ‘…one of the finest song composers of his generation…’, he has written over fifty works in this genre, which includes six major song-cycles, Venetian Songs – Love’s Voice, Op. 22 (1995); Invite to Eternity, Op. 31, for tenor and string quartet (1997); Songs of Eternity and Sorrow, Op. 36, for tenor, string quartet and piano (2004); On the Wings of Love, Op. 38, for tenor, clarinet and piano (2006); The Pine Boughs Past Music, Op. 39, for baritone and piano (2009) and Remember This, Op. 40 – A Cantata for soprano, tenor, string quartet, and piano (2010). Other songs for solo voice and piano include, Two Songs, Op. 28 (1997), and Six Songs, Op. 33 (1999–2003), as well as ‘A Dramatic Scena’ for counter-tenor and piano – At the Court of the poisoned Rose, Op. 20 (1994). His songs have been performed by national and internationally acclaimed artists that include Andrew Kennedy, Roderick Williams, Patricia Rozario, Ian Partridge, Howard Wong, Nathan Vale, Peter Wilman and Nicholas Mulroy. His many chamber works include a Piano Quintet, Op. 27 (1995), described by Roderic Dunnett in the Independent as ‘…lending a new late twentieth century dimension to the English pastoral…’ and a String Quartet, Op. 32 (1998), as well as smaller pieces for solo instruments and piano. He has also written works for choir, Awake, awake, the world is young, Op. 34 (1999), for organ, Rhapsody, Op. 25 (1996), for brass and for solo piano. He is an acknowledged expert on the nineteenth-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). He is President of The Arthur Bliss Society, as well as Chairman of the Ivor Gurney Society. His continuing work on the music of 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 (1920) and A Gloucestershire Rhapsody (1919–1921), with Philip Lancaster. His music is published by Novello and Company Ltd and has been recorded on the Signum, Somm and Regent labels.
– Graham J Lloyd