Saturday 17 June 2023 at 8pm


Replacing an indisposed Dame Sarah Connolly, Sir Simon Keenlyside will perform Schubert’s enduring song cycle Winterreise, accompanied by Festival Director Joseph Middleton.


“Wielding a voice of seemingly infinite colour and the talents of a seasoned actor, the British singer held Reinberger Chamber Hall in the palm of his hand for 75 whole minutes with the tale of a dejected lover on the brink of self-destruction” – Cleveland Plain Dealer


Dame Sarah Connolly has had to withdraw from the Closing Gala recital at the 2023 Leeds Lieder Festival. Leeds Lieder are thrilled, however, that the renowned baritone Sir Simon Keenlyside – one of the world’s great Lieder interpreters – has generously agreed to step in to close the nine-day Festival on Saturday 17 June.

Sir Simon Keenlyside will perform possibly the greatest challenge in the genre – Schubert’s Winterreise – accompanied by Festival Director Joseph Middleton, recently described by ‘Klassik Heute’ as “one of the best piano accompanists of our time.”

Joseph Middleton says: Sir Simon Keenlyside honed his extraordinary talent as a student at the nearby Royal Northern College of Music and so to invite him back to the region for a recital has a particularly special resonance. All the artists we have performing at this year’s Festival share his passion for seeking out the truth in every work they programme. The commitment our singers and pianists display is shared in equal measure by the warmth and openness of the Festival audience, and it’s this duality that makes the week such an enriching and life-affirming event.”

Dame Sarah Connolly’s recital has been rescheduled to take place at the Howard Assembly Room in Leeds on Monday 2 October, and will include the world première song cycle, Night Thoughts, that Leeds Lieder recently commissioned from British composer Errollyn Wallen.

The ambitious 12th Leeds Lieder Festival presents recitals by both established and rising artists, six pre-performance talks and an ‘In conversation’ with the legendary mezzo-soprano and Guest of Honour Dame Janet Baker, followed by a screening of John Bridcut’s acclaimed 2019 documentary ‘Janet Baker: In Her Own Words’.

The impressive line-up of singers performing at the 2023 Festival also includes Véronique Gens, Mark Padmore, Louise Alder, Christine Rice, Kate Royal, Ailish Tynan, Peter Brathwaite and James Newby, with accompanists Julius Drake, Graham Johnson, Susan Manoff, Allyson Devenish and Ana Manastireanu, a former Leeds Lieder Young Artist.

Other cast changes include baritone George Robarts replacing tenor Ben Johnson for Graham Johnson’s evening lecture recital ‘Around and Behind Die schöne Müllerin on the cycle’s 200th anniversary’ on Tuesday 13 June, and ‘cellist Dan Bull replacing Jessica Burroughs in the lunchtime recital by Nick Pritchard and members of Opera North on Thursday 15 June.

Full details of the 2023 Festival can be found on the Leeds Lieder website.


Friday 9 June – Saturday 17 June 2023 – Touches of Sweet Harmony
Tickets are on sale now.
The Leeds Conservatoire Box Office is the Festival Box Office for all events.
Telephone: 0113 222 3434 (Monday to Friday, 10am – 5pm)
Click here to download the brochure.

We are introducing Festival Passes to the Leeds Lieder Festival for the first time – head to our 2023 Festival Passes page to find out more.

Please note that recitals between 9 and 11 June will take place at the Howard Assembly Room, whilst all other recitals will take place at Leeds Conservatoire.



Revered British baritone Simon Keenlyside was born in London. He appears at the world’s most celebrated opera houses and has a particularly close association with the Metropolitan Opera New York, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the Bayerische and Wiener Staatsopers, where his roles include Prospero The Tempest, Posa Don Carlo, Père Germont La Traviata, Papageno The Magic Flute, title-role/Golaud Pelléas et Mélisande, Count Almaviva and the title-roles in Don Giovanni, Eugene Onegin, Wozzeck, Billy Budd, Hamlet, Macbeth and Rigoletto.

Recent highlights include Golaud at Licieu Barcelona, Ezio in Atilla at Covent Garden and Macbeth at the Bayerische Staatsoper and Covent Garden. The 22-23 season sees Simon in Rigoletto and Macbeth at Wiener Staatsoper and Peter Grimes with Opéra national de Paris.

A renowned recitalist, Simon appears regularly at such major international recital venues as Wigmore Hall, Palau de les Arts Valencia, La Monnaie, Wiener Konzerthaus, Musikverein Vienna, Opernhaus Zurich and many more. Simon also enjoys extensive concert work and has sung under the baton of the world’s leading conductors, appearing with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the City of Birmingham, London Symphony, Philharmonia and Cleveland Orchestras, and the Czech, Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras.

Simon’s extensive discography includes a disc of Schumann Lieder with Graham Johnson and four recital discs with Malcolm Martineau – Schubert, Strauss, Brahms and an English song disc, Songs of War, which won the Solo Vocal Award at the 2012 Gramophone Awards. He has also recorded Britten’s War Requiem with the London Symphony Orchestra under Noseda, Mendelssohn’s Elijah under McCreesh, Des Knaben Wunderhorn under Rattle, the title role in Macbeth under Gardner, the title role in Don Giovanni under Abbado, Carmina Burana under Thielemann, Marcello La Bohème under Chailly, the title role in Billy Budd under Hickox, Papageno The Magic Flute under Mackerras, Count Almaviva in the Grammy award-winning Le Nozze di Figaro under Jacobs and Prospero in Adès’ The Tempest, which won the Best Opera Recording (Grammy Awards 2013) and Music DVD Recording of the Year (Echo Klassik Awards 2014).

Simon was made a CBE in 2003 and received a knighthood in the June 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours. In 2017, he was awarded the title of Austrian Kammersänger at the Vienna State Opera. He won the 2006 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera and in 2007 he was given the ECHO Klassik award for male Singer of the Year.