Rizza (Lensky), Margaret

Composer

b Stockton Brook, Stoke on Trent, Staffs 1929. After an unhappy boarding school life her education really began, starting at the RCM, London, at the age of 17 continuing at the National School of Opera and completing her operatic training in Siena and Rome. She qualified ARCM and for 25 years made a career as a world-class opera singer and broadcaster, including many performances in France, Switzerland and other European countries. Then for the next 17 years she taught at the Guildhall Sch of Music and Drama (FGSM, ARSCM). An experience in her own garden on a summer evening in 1983 led to a ‘real conversion’, bringing her to active Christian faith in her 50s. Since 1986 she has dedicated herself to spirituality and to the wider aspect of music in the community; this includes time among those with learning difficulties, which she finds more fulfilling than the often competitive culture of an institution. She has also brought her music to Maidstone prison. Among her writings is Proclaiming God’s Word: a handbook for readers. Especially since 1997 her work has included the composition of songs, chants, and music for Psalm extracts and the liturgy, much of it seasonal for Lent, Holy Week etc. This includes her own contemplative texts, some in Latin, and is available on some 20 CDs beginning with ‘Fountain of Life: music for contemporary worship’, including ‘Reflections for Peace’ and more recently ‘The New Dawn’. Her style has developed from some simpler early songs into different levels, and she conducts retreats, days of prayer, music and meditation, and vocal and choral workshops. A trainer and conductor, she has also founded 3 choral and musical groups. She has arranged Adoramus te, Domine Deus (in the Scottish Church Hymnary 4th edn); and more of her compositions in words and/or music are found in Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New (sic; 2000, with 7 items), One Church, one Faith, one Lord (2004, with 13 items) and other Kevin Mayhew collections. Living in Sevenoaks, Kent, she attends both the local RC church and (because of her love of Scripture) the evangelical parish ch of St Nicholas, with various family members. ‘I can never remember a time when music was not part of my life…It has also been for me a way of prayer’; ‘All my music is underpinned by prayer…prayer is the bedrock of everything’ (MR). Rom 5:5 expresses for her a part of this discovery. See also notes to P Hayes (Authors’ index). No.535.