Jane Manning: Soprano
Jane Manning: Soprano
Photograph: Derek Tamea
"the irrepressible, incomparable, unstoppable Ms. Manning - life and soul of British contemporary music". .
Michael White - The Independent on Sunday

"a legend in her own lifetime one of the most remarkable instigators of artistic achievement of others in our day"
Hi-Fi News & Record Review

It is three decades since William Glock commissioned a Japanese song cycle, The Valley of Hatsu-Se from Elisabeth Lutyens for the Dartington Summer School. Casting around around for a soloist, he decided to risk a young soprano just a year into her professional career. No doubt those who heard that first performance were already struck by Jane Manning's silvery evenness of tone, ardent intelligence of expression and uncanny accuracy of intonation. The sheer energy of her commitment to contemporary music was soon to become apparent.

Since then, Jane Manning must have premiered something approaching 350 new works - gaining her a special award for services to music from the Composers Guild of Great Britain back in 1973, an Honorary Doctorate at York University in 1988 and, in 1990, the OBE. Yet perhaps the salient glory has been her constancy - not just the first, but the second, third, even fiftieth performances of the works she believes in and the long-standing artistic relationships she has sustained with so many composers.

Nor has her drive confined itself to performance. She has served for years as a Vice President of the Society for the Promotion of New Music, travelled the world teaching voice and compiled an invaluable survey, New Vocal Repertory (OUP) was published in 1998. And in 1988, she and her composer-husband, Anthony Payne founded the highly successful group Jane's Minstrels as a means not only of gaining a freer hand in programming her own repertory, but of inducting some of the brightest young players around into a gamut of 2Oth century music.

©1994 Bayan Northcott

Just where has she found the unfailing energy, concentration, and, indeed, love to carry her through some four decades of dedicated music-making? For while we think of Jane Manning as the immaculate professional, who always, but always, delivers, we think, too, of her overflowing solicitude for the composers, performers, pupils and listeners she has served so well. This notion of music as the central focus of what amounts to a vastly extended family life is surely the key to her uniqueness. Performer, teacher, writer, impresario and, not least, Muse to a husband of ideally complementary gifts, her career over the years has virtually constituted a musical education in itself for those who have followed its unfolding……. it is an unalloyed pleasure to hail her achievement.
(Preface to Jane Manning's 65th Birthday Concert at the Wigmore Hall, 19/10/07.)

©2003 Bayan Northcott

Miss Donnithorne's Maggot
Photograph: Tim Williams

Jane Manning has worked closely with composers such as Birtwistle, Bennett, Boulez, Cage, Carter, Dallapiccola, Knussen, Ligeti, Lutyens, Maxwell Davies and Weir, and continues to enjoy an active career. She has recently been awarded a Gold Badge by the British Academy of Composers Songwriters, in recognition of her support for British composers.

She celebrated her 45th year of performing with a special concert at the Purcell Room, South Bank, on February 25th 2010, for which she commissioned, with generous aid from the PRS for Music Foundation, 7 new pieces (by Dai Fujikura, Deirdre Gribbin, Cheryl Frances Hoad, James MacMillan, Phillip Neil Martin, Colin Matthews and David Sawer). In 2014 she will mark the 50th Anniversary of her Park Lane Group debut with another Purcell Room performance.


"For many people, Jane Manning is simply the voice of contemporary classical music in this country. Anyone who took an interest in this burgeoning area of music in the 1970s and 80s grew up with the sound of her astonishing voice in their ears. It's instantly recognisable, but it's also a chameleon. Whether she's faced with the pure angular leaps of Anton Webern, the throaty suggestiveness of Schoenberg or the black, crazed humour of Gyorgy Ligeti, Jane Manning is always equal to the task
Jane Manning is in her 70s now, so of course the voice can't have quite the imperious, blazing quality it once had. But the amazing control of pitch and line is still there, plus that subtle musical intelligence. And there's a new softness in the upper register which is very appealing in itself. " Daily Telegraph

Performances of Maxwell Davies's MISS DONNITHORNE'S MAGGOT in Turin, Barcelona and London (Queen Elizabeth Hall) have been highly praised.

"It was an inspired choice to present Jane Manning as Miss Donnithorne, not only because she is an artist of astonishing gift but because she is also one of the greatest performers of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, and in her performance of the Maxwell Davies, the two pieces are palpably linked………. Her performance is desperately touching, the more disturbing for being played as reminiscence….. a performance of scorching intensity (without conductor).." The Independent

Jane Manning on Disc
with Nash Ensemble/Rattle Chandos CHAN6534
'Jane Manning is on dazzling form, her voice encompassing with complete sureness of touch, an extraordinary variety of colour and histrionic effect, from the mock-portentous to the eerily whimpering... further hearings reveal increasingly the lyrical beauty and expressive intensity of the performance.' Sunday Times.
A historic recording of PIERROT LUNAIRE made in 1967 with the unconducted Vesuvius Ensemble (William Bennett, Thea King, Kenneth Sillito,Charles Tunnell and the late Susan Bradshaw) is now available on FORUM FRC 9106.
'Manning's earliest interpretation of Schoenberg's explosively original cycle of poems for 'reciter' and quintet is hard to surpass for freshness and clarity.' Sunday Times Records of the Year
Boxed 2 CD set:
with David Mason.
HARAWI (Messiaen)
Forum. FRC 9202
'Her identification with the songs is complete, and places her with them in a world where alleluias can exist alongside paeans to erotic contentment.' The Times
'Jane Manning's fearlessly virtuoso scaling of the peaks of Messiaen's Harawi must be one of the finest things she has done. The sheer expressive range of her performance, once one has got over exclaiming at the technical control of her singing, is remarkable: a hair-raisingly intense experience'. The Gramophone - Critic's Choice .
Oliver Messiaen

Click on the speaker to hear an extract from Les deux guerriers, Poémes pour Mi, no.7
(Track 7 on CD 1)

RealAudio sound clip

Real Audio version 3 format.

Recordings include The Stones and Lonely Places Sing (NMC D130) which includes Anthony Payne's settings of Hardy and Edward Thomas, and My Own Country (Meridian CDE 84583), which features Anthony Payne's Warlock song arrangements, and songs by Quilter and Ethel Smyth. Richard Rodney Bennett's SPELLS, written for her, has now returned to the catalogue ( NMC Ancora D085) along with early recordings of major works by British composers, including Bedford, Birtwistle, Connolly, Finzi and Maw, issued by Lyrita, the most recent of which is a recording of Anthony Payne's music (NMC D 159).

Her 2 rare CDs of the complete vocal music of Erik Satie are much prized by collectors, and are available on Amazon.

Jane Manning
Photograph: Malcolm Crowthers

With perfect pitch, a sense of adventure and the ability to assimilate new scores quickly, Jane Manning has always enjoyed working with young people, and has maintained a parallel career in advanced education.

Voicing Pierrot
  1. Her book VOICING PIERROT, an exhaustive study of the voice part of Schoenberg's PIERROT LUNAIRE, which she has performed since 1965 and was short-listed for a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in the Creative Communication category, is about to be re-issued in a new edition by Cambridge Scholars.

    "..a precious gift of experience: mandatory reading not only for performers of the work but for lay listeners who seek inswight into vocal artistry in general"-(Bayan Northcott 2012)

    "..Its publication is a timely celebration of the twin, extraordinary achievements of its composer and pre-eminent exponent"-(TEMPO, November 2012)

  2. Her books NEW VOCAL REPERTORY-AN INTRODUCTION and NEW VOCAL REPERTORY 2, published by Oxford University Press, have proved invaluable to teachers and performers. She is also author of the chapter on the vocal cycles in Faber & Faber's A MESSIAEN COMPANION, and co-author, with Anthony Payne, of the chapter on Vocal Music -20th and 21st Centuries, in Cambridge University Press's forthcoming HISTORY OF MUSICAL PERFORMANCE. She has also contributed articles to learned journals including TEMPO. She was recently commissioned to write a further double volume: NEW VOCAL REPERTORY FOR THE 21st CENTURY by Oxford University Press, USA. These two books are now available from all good book shops, and can be ordered from Amazon here: Volume 1 and Volume 2.
  3. Academic residencies have included: Visiting Professor, Mills College, Oakland ( 4 times), and Artist in Residence, University of Manitoba, The Banff Centre, University of Western Australia (6 times), Victorian College of the Arts and New South Wales Conservatorium.
  4. She has given lectures and master classes at: (in USA) Columbia, Cornell, Harvard (US debut as guest in 'Learning from Performers' series), MIT, Penn, Princeton, Smith, Stanford, Yale, UCSB, UCSD and USC, as well as almost all the leading universities and conservatories of Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia and the UK. She has also given courses for singers and composers in Germany, Israel, Korea, Poland, Portugal, South Korea and Spain, as well as a special series of illustrated lectures on contemporary opera at the Britten-Pears School, Aldeburgh.
  5. She holds Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of York (1988), Keele (2004), Durham (2008) and Kingston (2012), and is a Fellow of both the Royal Academy and the Royal College of Music.

During her Creative Arts Research Fellowship and subsequent Visiting Professorship at Kingston she co-ordinated projects with the SPNM and RCM, featured in Schoenberg symposiums at Kingston, Glasgow and the Southbank Centre, and gave an exceptionally well-received Saul Seminar at the British Library. In addition she gave a ground-breaking series of lunchtime lecture - recitals of music by Schoenberg and his contemporaries, for which she provided her own programme notes and translations, as she also did for a recent performance of Hindemith's rarely-heard DAS MARIENLEBEN. Another highlight was a performance on campus of Walton's FAÇADE, sharing the narration with TIM PIGOTT-SMITH. Special works were written for her by Kingston composers Timothy Ewers, Mike Searby and Stace Constantinou. - fass.kingston.ac.uk

She is currently Visiting Professor at Kingston and at the Royal College of Music. Recent activities have included a course on Messiaen songs at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and contemporary classes at the Royal Academy of Music, where, next year (2012) she will lead a special project celebrating the Centenary of Schoenberg's PIERROT LUNAIRE, the work which has dominated her career for 45 years. She also began a collaboration with the University of Glasgow's Department of Engineering and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in a scientific analysis of the Sprechstimme voice part of PIERROT LUNAIRE - a longterm project entitled Empirical Pierrot.

In October 2012, she celebrated the Centenary of PIERROT LUNAIRE by curating a major project at the Royal Academy of Music, her alma mater. Currently a Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music, she has just begun a research residency at the Guildhall School of Music, and will be working with the students on contemporary repertoire,. following recent successful projects based around the vocal music of Messiaen and Krenek

"Imaginative scope, executive achievement and seemingly inexhaustible stamina" - The Times

Jane Manning

2 Wilton Square

Tel: +44 (0)20 7359 1593

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