Friday 9 to Saturday 17 June 2023


The 2023 Leeds Lieder Festival extends from four days to nine and presents its most wide-reaching programme to date, with an array of recitals, masterclasses and events in and around the city of Leeds.

Guest of Honour Dame Janet Baker is joined by star performers Véronique Gens, Dame Sarah Connolly, Mark Padmore CBE, Louise Alder, Christine Rice MBE, Peter Brathwaite, James Newby, Kate Royal, Ailish Tynan, Graham Johnson OBE, Julius Drake, Susan Manoff and Joseph Middleton.

Festival highlights include celebrating Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin on the cycle’s 200th anniversary, the introduction of a specially commissioned Leeds Songbook’, a community-led performance of Mozart’s Requiem in Leeds Minster, a late-night electro-acoustic concert from Lotte Betts-Dean, Peter Brathwaite’s “Rediscovering Black Portraiture” book launch, a SongPath in the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, and a world première song cycle by Errollyn Wallen CBE, performed by Dame Sarah Connolly and Festival Director Joseph Middleton.


“The Festival that has become a northern powerhouse of song.” – The Times


2023 is a landmark year for Leeds Lieder as the twenty-year Song Festival expands from four days to nine (Friday 9 – Saturday 17 June).  Inspired by LEEDS 2023, the city’s year of culture, ‘Touches of Sweet Harmony’ delves deeper into local communities and features a vast array of concerts and events, bringing the art of song to an ever-wider audience in and around the city of Leeds.

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

A new initiative for 2023 is the introduction of ‘A Leeds Songbook’ – twelve composers from the UK’s leading conservatoires and Northern universities have been paired with Leeds-based poets to create songs that will tell unique stories about the people of Leeds.  These new songs will be performed in concert by the 2023 Leeds Lieder Young Artists, postgraduate singers and pianists drawn from across the UK, Germany, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands and South East Asia.  A hugely important aspect of Leeds Lieder is the opportunity it offers to young performers through its Leeds Lieder Young Artists Programme.  Twenty-four outstanding Young Artists will participate in a series of masterclasses with specialists such as Sir Thomas Allen, Joan Rodgers CBE, Graham Johnson OBE, Susan Manoff, Julius Drake, RSC actor James Garnon and Festival Director Joseph Middleton.  They will perform to Festival audiences at a special showcase concert, informative study event led by Dr Katy Hamilton and at the late-night Lieder Lounge in the informal setting of Leeds Conservatoire’s rooftop bar.

Taking the Festival ever deeper into the local community, the popular Bring and Sing! event invites amateur singers to come together to perform Mozart’s Requiem at Leeds Minster alongside the Young Artists, and for the first time Leeds Lieder will incorporate its two award-winning Learning and Participation projects, Living Lieder and Discovering Lieder, into the main festival with two school concerts featuring nearly 1000 children at Pudsey Civic Hall.  The musical walking trail SongPath returns this year to the rich natural setting of the 900-year-old ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, led by singers Jess Dandy and Joanna Harries, and the Festival sees a collaboration with members of the Orchestra of Opera North, their Head of Music, David Cowan, and tenor Nick Pritchard in a recital of works by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The impressive line-up of singers performing at the Festival also includes Mark Padmore CBE, Peter Brathwaite, Louise Alder, Ben Johnson, Véronique Gens, James Newby, Kate Royal, Christine Rice, Ailish Tynan and Dame Sarah Connolly, with accompanists Joseph Middleton, Allyson Devenish, Graham Johnson, Susan Manoff, Julius Drake and Ana Manastireanu, a former Leeds Lieder Young Artist.  For the 2023 Festival, Leeds Lieder have commissioned the Belize-born British composer Errollyn Wallen to compose a song cycle for voice and piano.  Night Thoughts will be performed by the renowned mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly and Joseph Middleton, Director of Leeds Lieder, as part of the Festival’s closing gala.

Festival Director Joseph Middleton says:
“2023 marks another step-change in the history of Leeds Lieder, and this Festival will be the most ambitious, colourful, bold and thoughtful exploration of song we have mounted to date. Pre-covid we enjoyed year on year growth in participants and audience numbers, and coming out of the difficulties of the past few years we are as determined as ever to share great art with as many people as possible. From the enriching work we do in schools across the region, through to our vibrant Young Artists Programme, commissioning, championing of living and women composers, ground-breaking Composers & Poets Forum, and showcasing the world’s finest singers and pianists in recital, we want to present as broad a cross-section of society as possible. There’s never been such a visceral need for the best quality live music making here in the UK, and the joyous atmosphere that marks out the Leeds Lieder Festival as such a special event really does allow for a unique connection to be made in the concert hall: to connect with one another and, through this extraordinary art, mine the depths of what it means to be human.”


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.