“The world’s most adventurous cellist” Matthew Barley celebrates Britten’s centenary with an ambitious national tour, new commissions and a new CD concept

100 events to mark 100 years

Tour begins 15 January 2013 • CD out January 2013

Matthew Barley celebrates 100 years of Benjamin Britten with an ambitious national tour during 2013 which will involve concerts, workshops and special events in at least 100 venues across the UK. One of Barley’s aims is to take Britten’s music to audiences who might not otherwise hear it in a kaleidoscope of venues throughout the country from cathedrals, concert halls and castles to a lighthouse in Kent, a barn in Colchester and a cave in Derbyshire.

A partnership with the National Trust sees Barley perform in many of the Trust’s historic locations around the UK in summer 2013. These include Gibside country estate in the North East, Coughton Court – a Tudor house in the Warwickshire countryside, Coggeshall Barn – a 13th century monastic barn, Lodge Park – a 17th-century grandstand in the Cotswolds, Tyntesfield – a Victorian Gothic Revival house in Bristol, Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire, and the medieval and picturesque Bodiam Castle, with more to be announced.

The tour includes a poignant concert on the anniversary of Britten’s death in the composer’s beloved home, The Red House in Aldeburgh.

In what promises to be a fascinating and intriguing solo show, showcasing his ever-growing virtuosity as a world-renowned cellist, Barley places Britten’s powerful Third Cello Suite – dedicated to and first performed by the great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich – at the centre of a programme which also includes a suite by J.S. Bach, who greatly inspired Britten. The programme also includes solo cello music by Tavener and specially-commissioned new works by Dai Fujikura, James MacMillan and DJ Jan Bang.

Not content with convention, as ever, Barley has commissioned visuals which will accompany the performance of the Britten from Yeast Culture (the team behind a number of critically acclaimed films including the Rite of Spring installation with the Philharmonia Orchestra). The new works by Fujikura and DJ Bang fuse cello with computer technology.

A ground-breaking recording linked with the tour begins in January 2013 with Signum Classics and iTunes. The initial release, available on CD and via download, features Britten’s Third Suite along with solo works by Tavener and Gavin Bryars. On iTunes, the album will continue to grow and accumulate tracks for free throughout the year as the commissioned world-premieres featured in the tour are recorded along with additional tracks.

Tailor-made creative workshops aim to interest people of all ages in schools, colleges, hospices, adult education institutions and prisons. Devised and led by Barley himself, the events will explore Britten’s genius, introduce solo cello music from the baroque to the newly commissioned, and enhance the concert experience for audiences.

Matthew Barley says: "This tour combines many of the things I love in music: core repertoire, commissions, multi-media work, education, looking for new ways and places to present great music, and, of course, the extraordinary suites of Benjamin Britten. It will be a great odyssey, travelling throughout the land with such a wonderful programme, meeting so many people who would not normally hear this music. The tour is conceived very much in the spirit of Britten, his inclusivity, his search for new forms of expression, and his dreams for musical community. I can't wait for it to start!"

‘Around Britten’ is kindly supported by Arts Council; Britten-Pears Foundation; Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation; John Paul Getty Charitable Trust; PRS Foundation.


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