Tuesday 20 November 2012

Matthew Barley round Britten

Matthew Barley in workshop
(c) Marcus Tate
Matthew Barley's Around Britten 2013 tour kicks off on 15 January in Southampton. The tour sees cellist Barley performing in at least 100 venues in celebration of Britten's 100th anniversary. The tour will involve concerts plus workshops and special events, with Barley taking Britten's music to as wide an audience as possible using a variety of venues including cathedrals, concert halls and castles, a light house, a barn, a cave and a number of National Trust properties. On the day Britten died (4 December), Barley will perform at the Red House, and this will be webcast.

The centre piece of Barley's programme is Britten's Third Cello Suite, dedicated to and first performed by Mistislav Rostropovitch. His programme also includes one of J.S. Bach's suites, music which directly inspired Britten, plus specially commissioned new works by Di Fujikura, Jams MacMillan and DJ Bang Bang, plus solo cello music by John Tavener.

Barley has commissioned visuals from Yeast Culture, who made the critically acclaimed Rite of Spring installation with the Philharmonia Orchestra (reviewed on this blog). These will accompany the performance of the Britten suite. There will also be workshops, devised and led by Barley himself, aimed at people of all ages in schools, hospices, adult education institutions and prisons. Barley is doing two types of workshop, one is aimed at helping people get more out of his concerts, including looking at the audio-visual technology that Barley uses. The other is aimed at those unable to get to concerts, bringing live music to places which do not normally see it.

In January, Signum Classics will release an album of Barley playing Britten's Third Cello Suite along with solo works by Tavener and Gavin Bryars. This will also be available for download, via iTunes, and on iTunes the album will continue to grow and accumulate free tracks throughout the year as Barley records the new works he has commissioned.

Britten's cello suites are not necessarily the most approachable of music, and it is heartening that Barley is taking such a lively and innovative approach without ever talking down to his audience.  Barley is crisscrossing England and Wales between 15 January and 4 December 2013, coming to a venue near you so do go and support this innovative and exciting project. There will be more details on Barley's website, along with any extra dates which have yet to be announced.

Further information from Matthew Barley's website.

Elsewhere on this blog:

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