Saturday, 4 May 2013

Britten, Beamish and more

Sally Beamish
The Academy of St Martin in the Fields (ASMF) celebrates Britten's centenary with a concert of music by him and inspired by him. Central to the concert will be the first performance of a new commission from Sally Beamish, which performs alongside music by Britten, Elgar's Introduction and Allegro and Arvo Part's Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten. The programme debuts on 9 May 2013 at Turner Sims Concert Hall, Southampton, with further performances in Bradford upon Avon (10 May), 11 May (Ludham) culminating in a concert at London's Cadogan Hall on 23 May.


Sally Beamish originally trained as a viola player and is a former member of ASMF's viola section; she moved to Scotland in 1990 to concentrate on composing. It is this link which has given Beamish the germ for her new piece which is called Variations on a Theme of Benjamin Britten and used a theme from the second of Britten's Sea Interludes. Britten's own Frank Bridge Variations formed something of an inspiration and the work will be included in ASMF's programme. There are a number of personal links in the programme. Beamish's mother played in Britten's Peter Grimes with the Sadlers Wells Orchestra and Beamish's remembers being taking to rehearsals and bumping in to Peter Pears, and both Beamish and her mother played the Frank Bridge Variations with the ASMF. Beamish says that the new piece 'celebrates the Academy, and explores its collective virtuosity, and the richness and fullness of its sound.'

Also in the programme will be Britten's Lachrymae played by violist Lawrence Powers and Arvo Part's Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten, written in 1977 as elegy for Britten. Part regarded Britten as the only contemporary composer whose outlook resembled his own and Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten is a spare lament (written for string orchestra and bell) for a fellow composer. Elgar's Introduction and Allegro completes the programme.

Further information from the Academy of St Martin in the Fields website.

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