Carnegie Hall Continues to Celebrate Benjamin Britten Centennial Throughout 2013-14 Season
Carnegie Hall, Benjamin Britten
Throughout its 2013-2014 season, Carnegie Hall pays tribute to composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) in celebration of the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Born on November 22, 1913, Britten was one of the twentieth century's most prominent composers of opera and vocal music. His vast musical output extended to orchestral and chamber works with compositions for performers of every skill level, from world-renowned ensembles and soloists-such as Britten's muse and subsequent life partner, tenor Peter Pears-to children and amateur musicians.
Carnegie Hall's 100th anniversary programming is part of Britten 100, a global celebration of this prolific composer, organized by the Britten-Pears Foundation. Concerts and special events at Carnegie Hall join major Britten performances by cultural partners throughout New York City, including Brooklyn Academy Of Music, The Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, The Paley Center for Media, and Trinity Wall Street to form a season-long citywide tribute to this master composer.
Carnegie Hall's Britten celebration launched on Sunday, October 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Zankel Hall with a performance of the composer's five Canticles by renowned interpreters of his music: tenor Ian Bostridge, countertenor Iestyn Davies, baritone Joshua Hopkins, and pianist Julius Drake. Three days later, on Wednesday, October 23, Mr. Bostridge joined French horn player Stewart Rose and the Orchestra of St. Luke's led by Pablo Heras-Casado for Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings.
This month, the Endellion String Quartet performs Britten's String Quartet No. 1 in D Major, Op. 25, and Three Divertimenti in Weill Recital Hall this Friday, November 8 at 7:30 p.m., and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, under the direction of Dianne Berkun-Menaker, devotes a Carnegie Hall Family Concert to music Britten wrote for young people on Sunday, November 17 at 1:00 p.m.in Zankel Hall.
On the exact date of Britten's 100th birthday, Friday, November 22 at 7:00 p.m., tenor Anthony Dean Griffey sings the title role of the composer's opera Peter Grimes with the St. Louis Symphony and Chorus conducted by David Robertson in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage.
This is followed on Saturday, December 14 at 1:00 p.m. in Weill Recital Hall by a Carnegie Hall Discovery Day, an afternoon of discussion, film, and song exploring the life and music of Britten, with contributions from keynote speaker Paul Kildea, who has written extensively on Britten and twentieth-century music, and pianist Malcolm Martineau who will preside over a Britten song recital.
Carnegie Hall's Britten centenary celebration concludes on Wednesday, April 30 at 8:00 p.m. whenRobert Spano leads the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a stirring performance of Britten's War Requiem in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage. This concert will be aired on WQXR 105.9 FM in New York and on stations nationwide as part of the annual Carnegie Hall Live broadcast and digital series, produced by WQXR and Carnegie Hall in collaboration with American Public Media and hosted by WQXR's Jeff Spurgeon and American Public Media's Fred Child. Concerts in the series are available for live streaming on wqxr.org and carnegiehall.org/wqxr. During every live broadcast, WQXR, Carnegie Hall, and digital partner NPR Music will host live web chats, including Twitter commentary by the broadcast team from backstage and in the control room, connecting national and international fans to the music and to each other.
In a related Britten 100 event, Sphinx Virtuosi includes the composer's Simple Symphony on its program on Tuesday, October 8 at 6:00 p.m. in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage. The concert, presented by The Sphinx Organization in partnership with Carnegie Hall, marks the 10th anniversary for Sphinx Virtuosi at Carnegie Hall.
Further details on Britten performances at Carnegie Hall can be found below or by clicking carnegiehall.org/britten.
Benjamin Britten at Carnegie Hall: In 1939, as war in Europe headed toward inevitability, Benjamin Britten left his home to come to North America, traveling first to Canada and then to New York. Together with Peter Pears, he spent much of his time in Amityville on Long Island, about 40 miles from New York City. The 26-year-old Britten was in the audience at Carnegie Hall for the world premiere of his Violin Concerto on March 28, 1940, performed by violinist Antonio Brasa and the New York Philharmonic, conducted by John Barbirolli. "I felt I had to write and tell you how overjoyed I was with both your splendid shows of my concerto," he remarked in a letter to Barbirolli.
Britten returned to Carnegie Hall exactly one year later to hear the world premiere of his Sinfonia da Requiem, again performed by Barbirolli and the Philharmonic. In 1942, his homesickness having overridden other concerns, Britten returned to England. Nearly twenty more of his compositions eventually had world, U.S. or New York premieres at Carnegie Hall, including the U.S. premieres of his opera, Billy Budd, and the three Suites for Solo Cello, performed by Mstislav Rostropovich for whom they were written.
BRITTEN 100 PROGRAMMING AT Carnegie Hall:
November 8: Endellion String Quartet
The Great Britain-based Endellion String Quartet celebrates the centenary of the birth of Britten by performing one of the composer's string quartets and Three Divertimenti. Also on the program is Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" Quartet in Weill Recital Hall.
November 17: Brooklyn Youth Chorus: Britten's Young Voices
The Brooklyn Youth Chorus performs in Zankel Hall under the direction of Dianne Berkun-Menaker. These inspiring young singers honor the composer in his centenary year with a program that features some of his most charming choral music for young voices as well as a Britten-inspired world premiere by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw.
November 22: Peter Grimes with David Robertson and St. Louis Symphony and Chorus
Music Director David Robertson leads the St. Louis Symphony and Chorus in a concert performance of Britten's Peter Grimes, regarded as one of the most popular operatic masterpieces of the twentieth century. Performed on the exact 100th anniversary of the composer's birth, the concert features tenor Anthony Dean Griffey singing the title role alongside soprano Susanna Phillips (Ellen Orford), bass-baritone Alan Held (Captain Balstrode), mezzo-soprano Ann Murray(Auntie), baritone Patrick Carfizzi (Swallow), mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby (Mrs. Sedley), bassDavid Pittsinger (Hobson), tenor Thomas Cooley (Robert Boles), baritone Liam Bonner (Ned Keene), and tenor Keith Boyer (Horace Adams).
December 14: Discovery Day
An afternoon of discussion, film, and music in Weill Recital Hall features keynote speaker Paul Kildea (author of this year's Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century) and English filmmaker and writer John Bridcut, who will introduce excerpts from his new documentary on the composer. The afternoon will conclude with a full-length song recital organized by acclaimed pianistMalcolm Martineau with sopranos Joélle Harvey and Emalie Savoy, tenor Paul Appleby, and baritone John Brancy.
April 30: War Requiem with Robert Spano and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Music Director Robert Spano leads the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and a trio of eminent soloists-soprano Evelina Dobracheva, tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, and baritone Stephen Powell-in Britten's War Requiem. Written for the inauguration of Coventry's new cathedral in 1962, Britten's War Requiem is a deeply felt expression of the composer's pacifism. By juxtaposing Latin texts from the Mass for the Dead with shocking depictions of battle by British poet Wilfred Owen (who died in World War I), Britten created a gripping musical statement about man's inhumanity to man.