Gweneth Ann Rand & Simon Lepper

An Imperfect Tapestry

Wednesday 1 December 2021

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Acclaimed British soprano Gweneth Ann Rand returns to the Howard Assembly Room with her regular collaborator, pianist Simon Lepper, and a hand-picked programme which she describes as “a personal reflection of Black voices”.

Spanning three centuries, Rand’s fascinating selection does not shy away from difficult questions, whether illuminating European artists’ fixation with the ‘exotic’, or giving authentic voice to the experience of slavery and the struggle for civil rights.

A journey in song from Debussy and Ravel to ‘Strange Fruit’ – first performed by Billie Holiday in 1939 - and works by contemporary composers including Errollyn Wallen and Hannah Kendall.

Gweneth Ann Rand

English soprano Gweneth Ann Rand was a Royal Opera Young Artist 2001–03, during which period her Royal Opera roles included Ines (Il trovatore), Second Maid (Daphne), Rooster (The Cunning Little Vixen) and Fourth Maid (Elektra). She has since returned to sing in the world premiere of 4.48 Psychosis for The Royal Opera, River Woman (Heart of Darkness, world premiere) for ROH2 and in Hot House for the Royal Opera House Learning and Participation department.

Rand was born in Northampton and studied at the University of Exeter, Goldsmiths, University of London, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Rand represented England in the 2001 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition and made her BBC Proms debut in 2001.

Simon Lepper

Simon Lepper read music at King’s College, Cambridge before studying piano accompaniment with Michael Dussek at the Royal Academy of Music and later with Ruben Lifschitz at the Fondation Royaumont.

He is a currently professor of collaborative piano and a vocal repertoire coach at the Royal College of Music, London where he also in charge of the collaborative piano course. Since 2003 he has been an official accompanist for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.


Part one

Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

Claude Debussy
from Cinqpoèmes de Baudelaire
Le Balcon
La Mort des amants

Abel Meeropol
Strange Fruit

Maurice Ravel
Chansons madécasses
Il est doux

Black is the colour of my true love’s hair


Part two

By An’ By, Arr. Clement Ishmael

Hannah Kendall

Florence Price
My Dream
Song to the Dark Virgin

City Called Heaven, Arr. HallJohnson
Witness,Arr. Hall Johnson
Is There Anybody Here?, Arr. Roland M Carter

Harry Sever

Shirley Thompson

Errolyn Wallen
Peace on Earth

Adolphus Hailstork
Decisions from Songs of Love and Justice

Howard Assembly Room

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Gweneth Ann Rand & Simon Lepper

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