Britten Sinfonia entered an already-rich Norwich music scene some 10 years ago like a breath of fresh air. During the course of that time I must have attended most of their evening and lunchtime concerts and I cannot recall ever coming away without feeling that I have experienced something very special. To my mind this has been for two reasons. Firstly the players are of the very highest calibre and although a sizable band they play with the sensibility of chamber musicians always listening to each other, giving a wonderful feeling of making music for the first time. Secondly their programming is always fresh and original, often juxtaposing works which on paper look odd bed-fellows but which always work in performance - and presenting newly commissioned works in a context which makes them relevant. This is particularly true of the imaginative lunchtime chamber series which have featured many new pieces alongside established favourites.
The highlights over the years? - well there have been so many, but I remember vividly their collaborations with international visiting artists especially Pekka Kuusisto, Alina Ibragimova and Angela Hewitt – and then, most recently of all, there was an unforgettable performance by Mark Padmore of a newly commissioned song cycle The End by Jonathan Dove.
Britten Sinfonia are popular visitors to Norwich. I congratulate them on their 20th anniversary season and look forward to their visits here for many more years to come.
Roger Rowe MBE