Wednesday 19 September 2012

Britten 100 - Reaching Out

Besides celebrating Britten's music, Britten 100 involves a variety of events and artists who are reaching out to a wider audience, whether this is by creating new music, performing in unusual venues, involving 75, 000 children in singing Britten or encouraging local arts groups in Norfolk and Suffolk to perform Britten's music, and then there is the issuing of a 50p coin.

The Arts Council is planning a national event to promote Britten's work to new audiences and to encourage contemporary artists to create new work. Currently all this is still in the planning stages! Watch this space.

The Britten Pears Foundation is reaching out in a variety of ways. Besides the grants for performances of Britten's operas across the globe, they are joining forces with the Royal Philharmonic Society to commission six composers to write works in genres in which Britten also wrote. Wolfgang Rihm is writing an orchestral piece for the Halle, Judith Weir a piece for chamber orchestra for the Britten Sinfonia, Magnus Lindberg an ensemble piece for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Poul Ruders a string quartet for the Vertavo Quartet, Harrison Birtwistle a song cycle (with words by David Harsent) for Mark Padmore and Till Fellner, and Richard Rodney Bennett a piece for the New London Childrens Choir. All will be performed at the 2013 Aldeburgh Festival. The commissions also form part of a year long celebration of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's bicentenary.

Cellist Matthew Barley, in his Around Britten 2013, is touring Britain in 2013 with over 100 events in a very wide range of locations such as shops, galleries, National Trust properties, a Devon woodland (one hopes it doesn't rain) and The Red House (a web-cast on the day Britten died). Barley is performing Britten's Third Cello Suite with a specially made video, plus music by Bach, John Tavener and Gavin Bryars, and new commissions from Dai Fujikura, James MacMillan and Jan Bang (a Norwegian DJ); quite an eclectic mix. The Fujikura and Jan Bang pieces will utilise new technology. There will also be outreach workshops and masterclasses.

Reaching out to a younger generation is Aldeburgh Music's Friday Afternoons project. It uses Britten's Friday Afternoons, a cycle of songs for children's choir and piano, as the centre-piece of a huge project to get children singing. Britten wrote Friday Afternoons between 1933 and 1935 for the prep school where his brother was Headmaster. At the school, Friday afternoons were devoted to singing and Aldeburgh Music hopes that their Friday Afternoons project will encourage schools to devote time to singing. The songs are witty and easy to sing, and they featured in Wes Anderson's recent film Moonrise Kingdom.

The project starts in November and culminates on the centenary weekend in November 2013. Aldeburgh Music is in partnership with the Britten Pears Foundation, Boosey and Hawkes, plus a range of organisations including the Royal Opera House, Opera North, the Sage Gateshead, Symphony Hall Birmingham, local education hubs and schools. The aim is to get as many young people as possible to sing Friday Afternoons. The website ( includes further information and teaching packs.

Whilst Friday Afternoons is a national project, spearheaded from Suffolk, Familiar Fields is intended to be purely local to Suffolk and Norfolk. The project celebrates Britten's roots in East Anglia. Supported by Adnams and Greater Anglia, musical organisations across Norfolk and Suffolk are promoting musical events. Many of the groups are amateur and community groups, with performances including Noyes Fludde performed by school children in Bury St Edmunds in in Lowestoft, The Little Sweep in Norwich, over seven performances of Saint Nicholas include one by massed Norfolk School Choirs in Great Yarmouth.

Reaching out in a rather different way, but having impact probably on the greatest number of people, the Royal Mint is issuing a 50 pence coin to mark the Britten Centenary. The design will be unveiled in November 2012 with the coin going into circulation in early 2013.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts this month