Tuesday 28 August 2012

A View from the Audience

As our 20th Birthday season approaches we've been asking audience members their thoughts on Britten Sinfonia and what event has been a highlight for them. Roger Rowe, a regular audience member in Norwich picked out one of his highlights;

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

We will be celebrating  our 20th anniversary in Norwich on Tuesday 23 October with a special birthday concert at Norwich Theatre Royal - you can find out more details here. the orchestra will also be performing special birthday concerts in Cambridge and in London.

Monday 20 August 2012

A highlight a year!

As we approach our 20th Birthday season we've been looking back at some of the highlights over the past twenty years. We've selected a highlight a year (but you can also read what else we were up to each year here).

Britten Sinfonia launches following an initiative from Eastern Arts and a number of key figures including Nicholas Cleobury, who recognise the need for a world class orchestra in the East of England.

Britten Sinfonia’s part in Jonathan Miller’s production of Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos provides the orchestra’s first critical success.

The number of concerts increases from 12 in 1993 to 27 in 1994, including the orchestra’s first foreign tour, a residency at the Wratislava Cantans Festival in Poland.

Britten Sinfonia’s debut CD is released to critical acclaim, featuring David Pyatt in the Strauss Horn Concertos and the Duet-concertino and Serenade for Wind Op.7. It wins a Gramophone Award.

Orchestra works with tenor Ian Bostridge for the first time, with a young Daniel Harding conducting. This successful collaboration leads to other concerts and an EMI recording of Britten repertoire including Our Hunting Fathers.

Britten Sinfonia awarded £150,000 from the Arts Council’s Arts for Everyone scheme for the development of its work in the East of England.

Landmark concert series Frank Zappa and the Fathers of Invention, setting Zappa’s music against Bach, Stravinsky, Varese, Ives and Steve Reich

Proms debut
Britten Sinfonia makes its BBC Proms debut, featuring a new symphony by David Matthews.

Britten Sinfoina’s first tour to Germany includes performances at Munich’s Gasteig and Frankfurt’s Alte Oper.

Joanna MacGregor directs a 10 date tour – Light and Shade - featuring music by Arvo Pärt, Lou Harrison, Schnittke and a new work from Nitin Sawhney. The tour is featured in a Joanna MacGregor South Bank Show profile for LWT.

Celebrations for the orchestra’s 10th Anniversary begin with a national tour featuring Evelyn Glennie.

Following a national review of the chamber orchestra sector, Arts Council England announces 100% increase in Britten Sinfonia’s funding.

A major tour with Nitin Sawhney takes the ensemble to Brussels and around the UK in the autumn, including a debut at the Royal Festival Hall.

We launched our first ever lunchtime series, Britten Sinfonia at Lunch, at West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge.
Jacqueline Shave was appointed leader in September.

Lux Aeterna, our Hyperion recording of music by Morten Lauridsen, was nominated for a Grammy award.

The ‘Britten Sinfonia at Lunch’ tour continued to be recorded for broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and the tour expanded to include Krakow (Poland), Aldeburgh, Cambridge and Norwich. 

In a truly unique production that attracted a great deal of press and attention, Britten Sinfonia joined the Michael Clark Company for the Stravinsky Project at the Barbican.

Britten Sinfonia appears at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk , the first classical group to appear at the festival.

Latitude Festival 2009 - photographer: Rebecca Walsh
Nico Muhly was in residence with Britten Sinfonia throughout January and February 2010. A new work by the composer featured as part of Britten Sinfonia’s award-winning lunchtime series in January, and Impossible Things, a major commission for voice and violin, premiered as part of an acclaimed 14 date European tour which brought together Mark Padmore and Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto.

The orchestra launched a new residency at Brighton Dome and Festival and founded its own choir, Britten Sinfonia Voices.

Britten Sinfonia became Associate Ensemble at the Barbican.

We will be clebrating our 20th Birthday with special concerts at the Barbican and in Cambridge and Norwich