Tuesday 30 April 2013

The Musically Gifted Campaign

Back in 2011-12 Britten Sinfonia ran a slightly more unusual campaign: A Tenner for a Tenor. The campaign was the first time Britten Sinfonia had tested the ‘crowdfunding’ concept – basically, getting lots of people together giving small amounts, in order to make a project happen. With the Tenner for a Tenor campaign, we were commissioning the acclaimed composer Jonathan Dove for our ‘At Lunch’ concert series, and we needed additional funds to make it happen. By the time of the world premiere, over 300 people had come together, giving £10 or more each. Everyone was a winner: Britten Sinfonia achieved its target for the campaign, and those giving £10 had their name in the front of the full score, which will remain there forever.

We were thrilled with the response, but at the time the Tenner for a Tenor campaign was very much a ‘one off’ thing, and was based solely on the fact that Jonathan Dove’s work featured the world-renowned tenor Mark Padmore, and to participate you just had to give £10. You quite literally got a tenor, for a tenner. It got us thinking though: how can we replicate this success in future? As importantly, how can we enable more people to have a real stake in the new music that they hear Britten Sinfonia perform on stage?

Well, we’re excited to announce that the successor campaign has launched: Musically Gifted. When looking at the charity marketplace, we saw there were various shining examples of excellence out there, especially away from the arts sector, including Oxfam’s famous ‘Unwrapped’ campaign. The beauty of Oxfam’s campaign is that you can buy a unique gift, and that depending on how much you have to spend, you can buy anything from a goat, to safe water for 50 people, to teacher training plus much more. All of the gifts bought enable Oxfam to deliver real change in the communities in which they operate.

With Musically Gifted we’ve taken a similar approach. Instead of goats we have composers, and we’ll have up to eight composers for you to choose from at any one time. You can buy a gift at one of seven different levels, and the more you spend, the more your rewards increase. The basic gift remains at just £10, and for that we’ll give you a hearty shout-out on Twitter and Facebook, plus you’ll get your name in the full score of your chosen work and email updates as the work evolves from commission to premiere. If you have a bit more to spend, then you can have anything from complimentary tickets to the world première of your chosen work, to an invitation for you and a guest to attend our rehearsals. You can even have afternoon tea with your chosen composer and our players.

Visit the website, www.musicallygifted.org.uk, and browse the selection of composers available. Buy a gift for yourself, or for the special someone in your life. Whoever you choose and at whatever level, you’ll be helping Britten Sinfonia create new music.

Finally, there’s one more important bit of information to tell you. As we were planning the campaign, Arts Council England put out a call for proposals, that would enable more people to give to the arts. We’re really pleased to say that the Musically Gifted campaign was one of the chosen proposals, and as a result for the next two years all gifts bought through Musically Gifted will be match-funded by the Arts Council, up to a maximum of £50,000 each year. We can also claim gift aid on your gift too. Your £10 gift could therefore become £22.50; or a £500 gift could become worth £1,125 – at absolutely no cost to you. So, if you’re in the market for a unique musical gift then please do visit the website and help us create new music.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Photos from the Mexico tour

Back in March Britten Sinfonia visited Mexico for the third time. We performed four concerts in Mexico City, Leon and Guadalajara as well as some impromptu string quartet performances at the end of the tour in locations across Mexico City.

On first arrival in Mexico our dedicated team of Britten Sinfonia runners took the opportunity to explore Mexico City;

Our first concert at the magnificent Castillo de Chapultepec in Mexico City. Here's the view from the Castle taken by our Chief Exec whilst the orchestra rehearsed;

This concert celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Anglo-Mexican Foundation. Ariette Armella kindly took some photos during the performance;

When we arrived in Leon we were surprised to come across some giant billboards featuring Britten Sinfonia (photo by Principal 2nd Violin Miranda Dale);

And following the performance in Leon we enjoyed a post-concert meal;

At the end of the tour we performed several pop-up concerts across Mexico City in unusual locations. String quartets from the orchestra performed at the Anthropology Museum, MIDE Museum, Bellas Artes and Pergolas Gardens at the Castillo de Chapultepec. Magaly Palacios Morales kindly took some photos at the Anthropology Museu and Pergolas Gardens;

And Britten Sinfonia Chief Executive, David took some photos at Bellas Artes;

We'd like to thank the Anglo-Mexican Foundation, the British Council (Mexico) and Cambridge English Language Assesment for funding this tour.

Monday 8 April 2013

Meet Ian Bostridge

Tenor, Ian Bostridge will be joining Britten Sinfonia at the Barbican in May for a programme exploring the themes of sleep and night. Ahead of the concert Ian has managed to find some time in his busy schedule to answer a few questions about himself.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Working with Britten Sinfonia ... And playing Aschenbach in Britten's Death in Venice at the ENO.

When are you happiest?
With my wife and children, preferably somewhere hot.

What is your greatest fear?
For my children's future in a world where common decencies are under assault by the scourge of neoliberalism.

What is your earliest musical memory?
Singing the solo in Vaughan-Williams' motet O Taste and See at my local church in Streatham, getting lost, and bursting into tears. I must have been 6 or 7.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
My wife, Lucasta Miller, for her brilliant mind and brilliant writing; and for keeping things together when I'm away. And when I'm not.
What is your most treasured possession?
Score of the Tempest with Tom Ades's dedication

What would your super power be?
Teleportation, so I could get home more often between concerts and rehearsals.

If you were an animal what would you be?
My son, at 2, famously said "Mummy a tiger, Daddy a hen". So there you have it.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Nervous tension. Nail biting.

What is your favourite book?
War and Peace.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Franz Schubert, Albert Einstein, Dr Johnson, Letitia Landon, Jane Austen, Cleopatra

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
1984 when I met my wife

How do you relax away from the concert platform?
Reading, eating, looking at pictures, watching DVD box sets, walking, playing with the children, talking to my friends. The normal stuff.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My two extraordinarily lovely children.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Try and be kind.

In a nutshell, what is your philosophy?
There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in most philosophies

Ian Bostridge performs with Britten Sinfonia on Saturday 4 May 2013 at London's Barbican. For further information click here