(1929 - )
Margaret Rizza (b.1929) studied at the Royal College of Music, London and at the National School of Opera, London, and continued her training in Siena and Rome, Italy. She sang professionally for 25 years, under the name of Margaret Lensky. She has sung at many of the leading operatic venues and under such conductors as Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky and Leonard Bernstein.
She then went on to teach singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, from 1977 to 1994.
In 1986 she dedicated herself to the work of spirituality and to the wider aspect of music in the community. She has worked on many outreach projects taking groups of students to share their music with people in prisons, hospitals, hospices, inner city schools, MS centres, blind schools and working with people with physical and learning difficulties. During this time she began her work in the field of spirituality working with The World Community for Christian Meditation leading many retreats, prayer and music days and vocal and choral workshops.
She was closely involved with Dartington International Summer School giving masterclasses and vocal workshops over many years up until 2008.
She began composing in 1997, her contemplative choral music being widely acclaimed not only in the UK but also abroad. She has given many seminars and conferences all featuring her music in the USA, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Ireland as well as leading many choral and vocal workshops in this country.
BBC Radio Kent featured her music over the five weeks of Lent in 2002. She received an award from BBC Radio Kent for the best interview on prayer and music in 2003.
She was also interviewed for BBC Radio Wales in a programme which was produced by Karen Walker “All Things Considered” and was awarded the Andrew Cross Award in 2004. She was also short-listed for the Sandford St. Marton Religious Award in 2004.
In 2007 she featured in the BBC Songs of Praise programme “Women Composers”.
It was in 2007 that she was commissioned by Harry Christophers to write a choral composition for The Sixteen. For her this resulted in a new idiom in writing – that of “classical contemporary”. The composition Ave Generosa came out in the CD “A Mother’s Love” conducted by Harry Christophers with The Sixteen and was performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London in 2008. It was premiered in the USA in 2009 and her O speculum columbe was premiered also in the USA in 2011.
A CD of 15 classical contemporary pieces, conducted by Eamonn Dougan, the assistant conductor of The Sixteen, was released on Naxos Records in late 2012.
She hopes to begin work on a creation cantata scored for choir, organ and instruments. Also she will begin work on a new series of contemplative compositions together with the setting of psalms and anthems for Church services.