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Britten Centenary Celebrations well underway in the East Region

  • Date: 29 May 2013
  • Area: South East
Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra App

Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra App. Credit: Sara Fanell & PlaceIt

Benjamin Britten had, and continues to have, a huge impact on arts in England. He is renowned as one of our greatest composers and his works are played around the world. Here we reflect on the activities that are taking place to celebrate the life, work and ethos of Benjamin Britten.

Arts Council England has invested more than £1.25 million in the Britten Celebrations; £1 million has been awarded to Aldeburgh Music through the Commissioned grants programmes and a further £250,000 has been invested with the Britten-Pears Foundation through Grants for the arts.

Through this investment, Arts Council England has created a strategic partnership with Aldeburgh Music and the Britten-Pears Foundation, to ensure Britten’s life is celebrated in a way that befits his stature and legacy.

Through this investment, we aim to explore Britten’s extraordinary musical and cultural legacy, inspire contemporary English artists to create exceptional new work, attract new audiences to Britten’s work and new work inspired by him, and promote England’s importance as a major international cultural destination. has been created to allow the global community to share news on events that are planned as part of the Britten Centenary. It highlights more than 600 activities planned in the UK in the coming months.

These vary from performances and talks to educational events and lectures; each reveals a little more about Britten and why the anniversary of his birth is such an important milestone.

Here are a few of those we can look forward to.

The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra App is a fun iPad app from the Britten-Pears Foundation that is designed to introduce a new generation to the orchestra and the music of Benjamin Britten. The app includes a wealth of interactive content, such as an interactive score, creative games, aural quizzes and a light-hearted personality quiz that matches users to instruments of the orchestra – along with much more.

Featuring bespoke illustrations by award winning artist Sara Fanelli and a specially-recorded complete performance of The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra from Sir Mark Elder and the Royal Northern College of Music Symphony Orchestra, the app is an excellent example of how digital technology can be used to help younger audiences engage with arts and culture.

This year’s Aldeburgh Festival will be at the centre of the year-long celebration of the Britten Centenary. Run by Aldeburgh Music, which was founded by Britten, it will offer a very special opportunity to encounter Britten and his legacy in ways that people will not find anywhere else.

The festival, which runs from 7 to 23 June, is bursting with exciting and innovative events, from performances of Peter Grimes in the location that inspired it and The Church Parables in their original venue, to a Britten inspired showcase, which features in excess of 20 commissions across different musical genres and art-forms.

The diversity that is such a feature of the Aldeburgh Festival is reflective of the man who started it. Britten wanted Aldeburgh to be about more than just his music, he wanted it to be a celebration of the arts that would drive awareness and participation. The 66th Aldeburgh Festival promises to be an experience that is not just unmissable, but also unforgettable – just like the man who inspired it.

A full programme of events and activities can be found here:

Peter Grimes is said to be Britten’s most admired composition and The Borough will give people a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the emotional themes of the opera. This unique experience takes the real locations from George Crabbe’s poem, as used by Britten in Peter Grimes, to create an interactive journey around the town Aldeburgh. Audiences will be taken on a sonic journey back in time, during which they will encounter key characters and elements from this fantastic story.

This immersive theatre experience, produced in collaboration with Punchdrunk, will also become a permanent theatre sound installation for audiences throughout the Centenary and beyond.

The Albert Herring Feasts is inspired by Britten’s comic opera, Albert Herring, and will give communities the opportunity to come together and enjoy music, food and all the traditions associated with the story. It is a fantastic education and community driven initiative that will give local school children the chance to plant, grow and make food for all to share at the feasts; along with food of their own that people are invited to bring along.

Local folk and traditional musicians will provide the entertainment and also lead activity for all to participate in, creating a fantastic sense of community participation around the Britten Centenary.

The Britten Prom, which has been created by the Britten Pears-Foundation and partly funded by Arts Council England’s Grants for the arts, is a brilliant blending of visual and aural themes that ensures Britten’s birthplace, Lowestoft, and its community remain a key focal point for the celebrations. Lowestoft fountains are a major local landmark and this year they have been specially commissioned to be part of the Britten celebrations. Four of Britten’s compositions will be played in harmony with the fountains, creating a striking spectacle that the local community can engage with over the summer months.

The fountains also mark the start of a visual journey through Britten’s life thanks to the creation of fifty fantastic banners that stretch along the promenade and lead to the composer’s birthplace. Each reflects a different stage in his life, giving the local community and visitors to Lowestoft the chance to engage with Britten on a more personal level.

One of the most important aspects of this project was the involvement of pupils Benjamin Britten High School, who supplied some of the banner designs.

For more information on the wide range of activities planned for the Britten Centenary, go to: