“… Britain’s greatest living composer of art songs…” Musical Opinion.
Ian Venables was born in 1955 and educated at Liverpool Collegiate Grammar School. He studied music with Professor Richard Arnell at Trinity College of Music, London and later with John Joubert, Andrew Downes and John Mayer at the Birmingham Conservatoire. His compositions encompass many genres, and he has added significantly to the canon of English art song. Described as “…a song composer as fine as Finzi and Gurney…” (BBC Music Magazine) and “…one of the finest song composers of his generation…” (BMS Newsletter), he has written over 60 works in this genre, which includes seven song-cycles, Venetian Songs – Love’s Voice Op.22 (1995); Invite to Eternity Op.31 (1997) for tenor and string quartet; Songs of Eternity and Sorrow Op.36 (2004) for tenor, string quartet and piano; On the Wings of Love Op.38 (2006) for tenor, clarinet and piano; The Pine Boughs Past Music Op.39 (2009) for baritone and piano; Remember This Op.40 (2011) a Cantata for soprano, tenor, string quartet, and piano (recently orchestrated) and The Song of The Severn Op.43 (2013) for baritone, string quartet and piano. Other songs for solo voice and piano include, Two Songs Op.28 (1997) and Six Songs Op.33 (2003) as well as a dramatic scena At the court of the poisoned rose Op. 20 (1994). His many chamber works include a Piano Quintet Op.27 (1995) – described by Roderic Dunnett in the Independent as ‘… lending a new late 20th Century dimension to the English pastoral…’, a String Quartet Op.32 (1998) and more recently a Canzonetta Op.44 for clarinet and string quartet (2013). He has also written works for choir – Awake, awake, the world is young Op.34 – organ – Rhapsody Op.25 (1996), brass and solo piano.
He is an acknowledged expert on the 19th-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 and Vice-President of the Gloucester Music Society. His continuing work on the music of Ivor 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 (1919) and A Gloucestershire Rhapsody (1921), with Dr Philip Lancaster. His music is published by Novello and Co Ltd and has been recorded on the Regent, Somm, Signum and Naxos labels.