Friday, 12 April 2013

Graham Johnson Tribute Wigmore Hall

Saturday is a special day. At the Wigmore Hall, John Gilhooly will present Graham Johnson with the Wigmore Hall Medal in recognition of his unstinting championing of Song and his extraordinary achievements on the concert platform and in the recording studio.

The presentation will be made on stage following a gala concert which celebrates the launch of Graham’s three-volume encyclopaedia Franz Schubert: The Complete Songs (published by Yale University Press). “Graham founded the Songmakers’ Almanac in 1976 to explore neglected areas of piano - accompanied vocal music and to provide an alternative to the conventional song recital and has continued to illuminate this area of music with passion and erudition. His fine programme and sleeve notes have greatly added to the wider understanding and interest in Song over the last 30 years and a wonderful discography includes outstanding recordings of the complete songs of both Schubert and Schumann for Hyperion. I can think of no other figure in the international music world who has done so much for the promotion of Lieder,” said John Gilhooly.

Graham Johnson is like a father figure to me, although we're almost the same age. He has been a fixture at the Wigmore Hall for what seems like forever, creating imaginative programmes that highlight the art song in different contexts. Songs are often mixed with well-chosen readings. A Graham Johnson concert is never boring. This recital will be typical. The programme is all Schubert, but focuses on settings of Shakespeare, Walter Scott and Ossian, plus less well known British poets like  Colley Cibber and Abraham Cowley, This shows how well read German Romantic intellectuals were. Would English composers have set so much German poetry (even in translation)?. Oh, I forgot! What English composers in this period. Haha! Even a song recital can tell us something about our heritage.

 photo : Clive Barda, Askonas Holt

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