Tuesday 2 October 2012

Britten Sinfonia at 20 - Moondog, MacMillan and Muhly

More celebrations. The Britten Sinfonia is 20 this year and they are celebrating with a concert at the Barbican, where they are an associate ensemble, on Saturday 27 October. The concert showcases the orchestra's remarkable versatility with specially commissioned premieres from James MacMillan and Nico Muhly and features close artistic collaborators such as Alina Ibragimova, Pekka Kuusisto and Mark Padmore. Joanne MacGregor feature in a revival of the Britten Sinfonia's Mooddog project.

The orchestra was founded in 1992 as initiative of Eastern Arts and a group of figures including Nicholas Cleobury (who became the first Artistic Director) with the intention of creating a world class orchestra based in the East of England. Their first concert was in Chelmsford with a programme of Bach, Copland, Stravinsky and Colin Matthews illustrating a commitment to a broad range of repertoire. Their debut CD was in 1995, an all Richard Strauss disc which won a Gramophone Award.

They premiered James MacMillan's Parthenogenesis in 2001 with Lisa Milne, Christopher Purves and Anastasia Hill. More recently, in 2010, Nico Muhly was in residence with them for a month. Both composers featuring in the Gala Concert.

The orchestra currently has residencies in Norwich, Brighton and Cambridge as well as their association with the Barbican in London.

There are birthday concerts in Cambridge on 22 October and Norwich on 23 October, plus the Gala Concert at the Barbican on 27 October. The Gala Concert will feature Kuljit Bhamra tabla, Thomas Gould violin/director, Tom Herbert bass, Alina Ibragimova violin, Pekka Kuusisto violin/director, Joanna MacGregor piano/director, Mark Padmore tenor, Seb Rochford drums, Jacqueline Shave violin/director and Andy Sheppard saxophones.

The programme is a wonderfully eclectic mix:-

Purcell Hear my Prayer                                     
Nico Muhly Birthday commission (World premiere)
Bach Concerto for Two Violins in D minor BWV 1043
Britten Les Illuminations                              
James MacMillan Birthday commission (London premiere)                                              
Prokofiev Symphony No.1 'Classical’                                                                            
Bach Keyboard Concerto in No.5 in F minor BWV 1056
Moondog arr. Joanna MacGregor Sidewalk Dances

Any concert that manages to include Purcell, James MacMillan and Moondog definitely gets my vote! You can see footage of the Britten Sinfonia's previous performance of Moondog on YouTube.

Further information from the Britten Sinfonia's website.

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