Winterreise is Schubert's last and saddest, but most haunting song cycle. It is a setting of 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller, lasting about 70 minutes. The 30 year old composer was ill, suffering, dying in fact, from syphillis. He was depressed. Müller's poems are relentlessly bleak. But Schubert's music is unfailingly and heart-rendingly beautiful. To listen to Winterreise is one of the most poignant, moving experiences in classical music. The work follows the journey of a young man through a desolate winter landscape. In the course of his wandering, he responds to the vegetation (frozen flowers), wild life (carrion crows in the sky above him) and the people he meets (notably, the hurdy-gurdy man), whilst all the time questioning his own existence and the meaning of life. The singer Ian Bostridge describes Winterreise as 'an indispensable work of art that should be as much a part of our common experience as the poetry of Shakespeare and Dante, the paintings of Van Gogh and Picasso, the novels of the Brontë sisters or Marcel Proust.'
The cycle will be performed without an interval, but Middleton Hall's Art Café will be open before and after the performance.
James Newby was the winner of the 2016 Kathleen Ferrier Award, and is a BBC New Generation Artist from 2018-2020. In 2016 he was the recipient of the Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera Voice Fellowship, and in 2015 was awarded the Richard Tauber Prize (for best interpretation of a Schubert Lied) and overall Third Prize at the Wigmore Hall/Kohn International Song Competition. In 2017 he was awarded the Trinity Gold Medal by the board of Trinity Laban Conservatoire.
James was awarded the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s Rising Stars prize for 2017-2019. Recent engagements with the orchestra include ‘Christus’ in the world premiere of Sally Beamish’s The Judas Passion; and various Bach Cantatas as part of the OAE’s ‘Bach, the Universe and Everything’ series at Kings Place, London. In 18/19 he sings the role of Apollo in Handel’s Apollo e Dafne under Jonathan Cohen, Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem under Marin Alsop, and St Matthew Passion under John Butt.
James enjoys a busy schedule as a recitalist; recent and future highlights include appearances at Leeds Lieder Festival and Newbury Spring Festival with Joseph Middleton, Oxford Lieder Festival with Eugene Asti and his debut solo recital at Wigmore Hall. He also sang in the Perth International Arts Festival, Australia, including a performance of Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin, and performed Schumann’s Dichterliebe in the Trinity Laban Schumann and Poulenc Project led by Eugene Asti.
This programme is a change from the one we previously advertised. William Thomas (bass) had to withdraw, but we were delighted to acquire James Newby in his stead. The pianist remains Gary Matthewman.