Monday 29 February 2016

A party and a pledge - celebrating ten years of At Lunch

If you've ever sat in the audience of one (or more) of Britten Sinfonia's At Lunch concerts then you'll recognise the feeling of anticipation when a new piece of music is about to be premiered. Think about it: your ears are some of the first in the world to encounter what is going to be played, as a member of an attentive audience silently waiting to experience something new... And if you haven't had the pleasure yet, what are you waiting for?!

Britten Sinfonia is committed to commissioning music from some of the world's most established names and the best emerging talent. You'll find a huge variety of new music throughout each concert season, interwoven with the more familiar. So far in 2015-16 the orchestra has performed new music from the OPUS2015 winner Edward Nesbit, Anna Clyne and DanĂ­el Bjarnason as part of its At Lunch series, which has been shedding light on new music for ten years, with five programmes to explore each season.

Britten Sinfonia musicians cutting the cake at the 10th anniversary party

In celebration of the tenth anniversary of the At Lunch series, on 20 January we hosted our own birthday party after the Wigmore Hall performance of Anna Clyne's This Lunar Beauty that included bubbly, balloons and of course, cake! We welcomed composers whose works had been premiered over the last ten years and displayed some of their scores as a mini exhibition. Since the first concert in October 2005 at Cambridge’s West Road Concert Hall (where every single At Lunch programme has been performed) there have been 43 new works premiered in 157 performances. Our Principal Cellist, Caroline Dearnley has performed in the most At Lunch programmes (33) and she joined us at the party alongside some of her fellow musicians and those who have helped make some of our music commissions possible: generous individuals who have donated to Britten Sinfonia’s Musically Gifted campaign.

A selection of scores from the past ten years
Since launching in 2013 Musically Gifted has raised nearly £50,000 from 135 individuals who have chosen to be part of new music from as little as £10. Ten of the lunchtime commissions have been supported through this scheme. At the party, we launched match-funding for the Musically Gifted campaign to the tune of £10,000 thanks to a generous, anonymous individual who wanted to boost our commissioning campaign for new music this year. If we are able to raise £10,000 before 31 March 2016 from people like you, we will be able to claim the generous pledge of the same amount. This means we need your help. From £10 to £1,000 every gift will help us get closer to our target. You can support Bryce Dessner, Elena Langer, Kenneth Hesketh, Sohrab Uduman (OPUS2016 winner), or Mark-Anthony Turnage, four of whom will feature in our up-coming At Lunch concerts.

So far we've raised £5,650 towards the £10,000 target (since 20 January) but your donation really will make all the difference and help us cross that finish line. We'd like to thank: Pauline Adams, Stephen & Stephanie Bourne, Robert Clark & Susan Costello, Eduardo G. Melguizo, Susan Maddock, Simon & Jenny Martin, Patrick Meehan, Trissa Orange, Sue Prickett, Judith Rattenbury, Roger Rowe, Paul Sackin, Barry & Ann Scrutton, John Stephens, Richard & Fiona Walford and three anonymous donors for helping us to get this far. 

A huge thank you to everyone who has supported Britten Sinfonia’s At Lunch series over the last ten years and all our composers and musicians who have performed so wonderfully. We’ve welcomed more than 25,000 of you to hear new music at lunchtime and hope to see many more of you in the coming seasons.

For more information about Musically Gifted and how you can be part of new music visit and don’t forget that if you donate before 31 March 2016, your gift will qualify for match-funding and will be worth twice as much to Britten Sinfonia’s new music campaign.

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