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17 April 2024

Jane Manning & Anthony Payne: a celebration

Foyle Room, British Library, London, Wednesday 1 May 2024, 2-3.30pm

Jane Manning and Anthony Payne in 1981. Reproduced by permission of the estate of Jane Manning and Anthony Payne.

Preparations are well under way for an exciting event here at the British Library on Wednesday 1 May 2024, celebrating the lives of soprano Jane Manning (1938-2021) and her husband, the composer Anthony Payne (1936-2021). Their archives were acquired by the British Library in 2022 so the event is also a chance to mark this and an opportunity to delve into the collections, exploring highlights and the many ways that the contents will be valuable for research.  

The event will be hosted by composer Steph Power, who knew and worked with both Jane and Tony over many years. And, importantly, there will also be plenty of live music too: with a mix of music by Tony and pieces that had been specially written for Jane. We are delighted to be joined by soprano Patricia Auchterlonie for this, together with Roger Montgomery (horn), Dorothea Vogel (viola) and Robert Manasse (flute). 



Sally Beamish:  Buzz, for voice and viola  
Erika Fox:  Singender Steige, for voice and flute  
Nicola LeFanu:  Songs for Jane, for voice and viola 
Elisabeth Lutyens:  Lament of Isis on the Death of Osiris 
Thea Musgrave:  Primavera, for voice and flute  
Anthony Payne:  Leap, Skip and Chase the Song, for solo viola  
Rhian Samuel:  Trois Chansons de François Villon, for voice and flute/piccolo  
Judith Weir:  Don't Let That Horse, for voice and horn 


As a soprano of phenomenal ability, Jane Manning premiered more than 350 new works by composers including John Cage, Judith Weir, Harrison Birtwistle and Oliver Knussen (memorably creating the role of Max in Knussen's operatic version of Where the Wild Things Are). Her repertoire also included many 20th century classics by the likes of György Ligeti, Milton Babbitt, Pierre Boulez and Arnold Schoenberg. Anthony Payne was a highly-respected composer of music that uniquely combined aspects of tradition with modernism. He reached widest attention through his elaboration of unfinished works by Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughan Williams – especially his work on the unfinished sketches for Elgar’s Symphony No. 3. Both Jane and Tony founded the new music ensemble Jane’s Minstrels in 1988, going on to support the work of several generations of composers. 

As well as celebrating their lives and careers, this event will be a chance to find out more about their archives. Particularly rich in material relating to the performance of contemporary classical music in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Jane and Tony’s collections sit alongside those of other composers and musicians they worked with here at the British Library, all together providing a rich resource for researchers of this period. Tony’s manuscript scores and sketches for pieces are included of course – ranging from the small scale, such as the solo viola piece that will be performed on the 1st May, through to bigger orchestral works like Time’s Arrow (depicting the Big Bang and subsequent expansion and contraction of the universe, no less). The archive also contains an extraordinary set of letters to Jane from the many composers she worked closely with, providing plenty of insight into what is involved in bringing these pieces to life through performance. Alongisde this, sound recordings, diaries and other papers all help to give a detailed picture of contemporary music making in this period. 

The event is taking place at the British Library, in the Foyle Room (in the British Library’s Centre for Conservation, at the back of the St Pancras site) on Wednesday 1 May 2024, 2-3.30pm. Tickets are free but are limited, so we would encourage booking in advance via the website here if you are interested in coming along: .

A further announcement about the archive will appear on the Music blog once it is catalogued and available for researchers.  


Chris Scobie, Lead Curator, Music Manuscripts & Archives