Just over 25 years ago, Britten Sinfonia was established as a bold reimagining of the conventional image of a chamber orchestra. A flexible ensemble of some of the UK’s leading soloists and chamber musicians came together with a unique vision: to collapse the boundaries between old and new music, to collaborate with composers, performers and guest artists across artforms and genres; and to create involving, intelligent music events that both audiences and performers experience with an unusual intensity.
Britten Sinfonia’s 2019-2020 season encapsulates all this, with the orchestra joined by an outstanding line-up of compelling, enquiring guest musical collaborators. Britten Sinfonia is an Associate Ensemble at the Barbican in London and Resident Orchestra at Saffron Hall, with residencies in Norwich and Cambridge and performs a lunchtime chamber music series at Wigmore Hall. The orchestra has a busy international touring schedule, in 2019/20 touring to China, USA, Romania and Spain. Month-by-month highlights of its 19/20 season, which is now booking at the Barbican, booking from today (22 May) at Saffron Hall and on sale from May 25 in Norwich.
Following its world premiere by Britten Sinfonia at the Enescu Festival in Romania, the orchestra performs the UK premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Refugee for chamber orchestra and tenor (close Britten Sinfonia artistic collaborator Allan Clayton). Based on poems by Benjamin Zephaniah, Emily Dickinson, Warsan Shire, Brian Bilston and WH Auden, Refugee is performed alongside works by Turnage’s mentor and close friend, Oliver Knussen. Andrew Gourlay conducts.
Enescu Festival, Romania – Thursday 19 September 2019
Milton Court Concert Hall, London – Friday 20 September 2019
Mahan Esfahani joins Britten Sinfonia to open its 2019/20 At Lunch season, with a programme that includes chamber music by JS Bach, CPE Bach, Richard Strauss, De Falla’s Harpsichord Concerto, and a newly commissioned work by Laurence Osborn.
West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge – Tuesday 1 October 2019
Wigmore Hall, London – Wednesday 2 October
St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich – Friday 4 October
Leeds Town Hall – Tuesday 15 October
Britten Sinfonia and The Sixteen gave the first live streamed performance from the Sistine Chapel of James MacMillan’s Stabat Mater in 2018, a performance which reached over a million people. To celebrate the composer’s 60th birthday, orchestra and choir, both of whom have enjoyed long, close artistic relationships with MacMillan, team up again for a concert featuring the London premiere of MacMillan’s The Sun Danced and his Symphony No. 5, Le Grand Inconnu (Monday 14 October, Barbican Hall). Birthday celebrations continue in New York in November with the US premiere of Stabat Mater alongside MacMillan’s Miserere (Alice Tully Hall, NYC – Thursday 7 November) and as part of the Cambridge Music Festival (Ely Cathedral – Saturday 9 November). Music by James MacMillan also features in Britten Sinfonia concerts at the Canary Islands Festival in January 2020.
Britten Sinfonia gives the UK premiere of a new collaboration between Steve Reich and the celebrated visual artist Gerhard Richter, conducted by Colin Currie. The piece examines the intersection between Richter’s formula for his Patterns series, which divides, mirrors and repeats a single painting, and Reich’s repeating musical structures.
Barbican Hall, London – Wednesday 23 October 2019
Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden – Thursday 24 October 2019
Britten Sinfonia leader Thomas Gould leads a programme of music for ‘Eight Seasons’, drawn from across the centuries and continents: Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.
Theatre Royal, Norwich – Friday 25 October 2019
Composer Emily Howard, who has a background in mathematics and computer science, curates a day of events celebrating the visionary Victorian mathematician Ada Lovelace, and exploring the intersection between Artificial Intelligence and music. The day features the Barbican commissioned world premieres of new works by composers Shiva Feshareki, Patricia Alessandrini and Howard’s own Ada Sketches, as well as music generated by artificial intelligence.
Milton Court Concert Hall, London – Saturday 2 November 2019 – part of the Barbican’s Life Rewired season.
Two of the UK’s most admired young musicians, Benjamin Grosvenor and Britten Sinfonia leader Thomas Gould join forces for a programme featuring Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in F minor and Mozart’s Piano Concerto no 9 (which Grosvenor directs from the keyboard). The programme also features the world premiere of a new William Alwyn Foundation commission by Robin Haigh, alongside Dobrinka Tabakova’s Fantasy Homage to Schubert and arrangement of Schubert’s Fantasie in F minor for strings. Grosvenor also joins the orchestra on tour to China from 15 – 19 November.
St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich – Tuesday 12 November 2019
Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden – Sunday 24 November 2019
Milton Court Concert Hall, London – Tuesday 26 November 2019
Britten Sinfonia’s first At Lunch concert of 2020 features a new commission by Freya Waley-Cohen, and the composer’s new arrangement of Mahler’s Ruckert-Lieder.
West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge – Tuesday 21 January 2020
Wigmore Hall, London – Wednesday 22 January 2020
St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich – Friday 24 January 2020
Ian Bostridge reprises his widely praised performance as Madwoman in a concert performance of Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River; the 2013 Britten Sinfonia and Barbican co-production has toured on both sides of the Atlantic to great acclaim. The cast also features Ashley Riches as Ferryman and Neal Davies as Traveller, with Britten Sinfonia Voices. Martin Fitzpatrick directs. Bostridge also joins Britten Sinfonia strings on tour in Bilbao, Spain (6-8 March)
Britten Sinfonia Voices joins Britten Sinfonia for three performances of JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion across the Easter weekend. The outstanding cast includes Nicholas Mulroy, Roderick Williams and Lucy Crowe; performances are directed by leader Jacqueline Shave.
St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich – Thursday 9 April 2020
Barbican Hall, London – Good Friday, 10 April 2020
King’s College Chapel, Cambridge – Easter Saturday, 11 April 2020
Trumpeter Alison Balsom leads a concert featuring the world premiere of John Woolrich’s Hark! The echoing air (after Purcell) in a concert that showcases composers’ fascination with other composers’ music, including Purcell arranged by Luciano Berio and Peter Maxwell Davies, Scarlatti arranged by Woolrich and Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre, arranged for trumpet and small orchestra by Elgar Howarth.
Milton Court Concert Hall, London – Thursday 14 May 2020
St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich – Friday 15 May 2020
Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden – Saturday 16 May 2020
Iestyn Davies joins Britten Sinfonia for a concert featuring a new work by Tim Watts, and alongside Watt’s arrangements of music by Purcell, Wolf and Ivor Gurney in the third At Lunch concert of the 2019/20 season.
West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge – Tuesday 23 June 2020
Wigmore Hall, London – Wednesday 24 June 2020
St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich – Friday 26 June 2018
FURTHER EVENTS WILL BE ANNOUNCED IN AUTUMN 2019.
FULL DETAILS AT www.brittensinfonia.com.