Benjamin Britten was a central figure of twentieth century classical music, whose compositions were wide ranging. He wrote everything from complex orchestral works, through radiant choral arrangements, to charming music for children and amateur performers.
Born in Lowestoft, Suffolk, in 1913, next year marks Britten’s centenary. Fittingly, Oxford Philomusica is embarking on a five-concert series to celebrate the composer, and it kicks off this week with a performance of his Snfonia da Requiem on Remembrance Sunday. Originally commissioned by the Japanese government to mark the 2,600th anniversary of the founding of the Japanese Empire, its performance promises to be breathtaking.
The rest of the series looks likely to please, too. On 22 November – the day of St Cecilia, the patron saint of music and, fittingly, Britten’s birth – Oxford Philomusica will perform his Hymn to St Cecilia. Then, on 6 December, Natalia Lomeiko and Yuri Zhislin will star in Britten’s Double Concerto for Violin and Viola.
The spring will bring Britten’s much-loved works for string orchestra. On 27 April the orchestra will showcase his rarely performed work for strings and piano, Young Apollo, and then on 17 May his celebrated Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge and Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings.
Tickets for all of the concerts, including the performance of Sinfonia da Requiem this Sunday, can be purchased from the Oxford Philomusica website.