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Aldeburgh Music awarded £1 million Arts Council strategic commissioned grant to lead national celebration for Benjamin Britten Centenary

  • Date: 4 December 2012
  • Area: South East
Aldeburgh Music Britten Centenary Identity

Aldeburgh Music will be staging a number of special events to mark the Centenary of Benjamin Britten. Credit: Aldeburgh Music

Next November marks the 100th birthday of arguably one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century; Benjamin Britten. Arts Council England has awarded Aldeburgh Music a £1 million strategic commissioned grant to lead a major national celebration of his life and work through collaborations and partnerships with a range of national and local organisations. The Britten Centenary programme will create an international focus on the creativity and innovation of our artists and arts organisations.

Born in Suffolk, Britten was a visionary artist whose work spanned a wide range of artforms and interests. His influence is still strongly felt today and reflected in Arts Council's current goals. Britten was passionate in supporting talented artists and devoted in his belief of getting people involved in music and music making.  He worked tirelessly to widen access and participation to music including creating many collaborations with dance, film, theatre, visual arts and literature.

On Friday 23 November, Britten's nephews Alan and John joined Jonathan Reekie, Aldeburgh Music's Chief Executive and Helen Lax, Regional Director, Arts Council England, East to launch the year, and the national singing project Friday Afternoons at Snape Maltings Concert Hall with a performance by young people from four schools across Suffolk together with the Suffolk Chamber Ensemble, Vocini.  This ambitious project aims to reach and involve at least 100,000 children and young people across the UK and culminate on Friday 22 November 2013 with a sensational music performance by tens of thousands of people.

Helen Lax, Regional Director, Arts Council England, East said: "Britten's Centenary is a truly momentous occasion for anyone connected to the arts sector - especially music - and this project is a great way to mark the centenary with arguably some of the finest music he produced. One of the most important factors in providing great art is that it is accessible and young people can get involved and enjoy it. This played a big part in Britten composing the songs that make up Friday Afternoons and, if we can get as many young people taking part as possible, then this will be the perfect way to mark the occasion."

During 2013 Aldeburgh Music will work in partnership with over 100 arts and education organisations including BBC Philharmonic, BBC Singers, Boosey & Hawkes, Brighton Festival, Cambridgeshire Music Service, Dance East, Familiar Fields, Glyndebourne, Opera North, Suffolk County Music Service, The Apex Bury St Edmunds,The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera House, The Sage Gateshead and a plethora of others.

Highlights include new commissions inspired by Britten by playwright Mark Ravenhill and composer Conor Mitchell; a new jazz suite by trumpeter and jazz composer Guy Barker; and collaboration between Neil Bartlett, Paule Constable and Ian Bostridge and others to re-interpret The Canticles.

Aldeburgh Music will present Grimes in Aldeburgh in June 2013 as part of the 2013 Aldeburgh Festival. Set in and inspired by the town of Aldeburgh, its big skies and crashing North Sea, Peter Grimes was Britten's first opera. Grimes in Aldeburgh consists of concert performances at Snape Maltings Concert Hall, an iconic outdoor staging on Aldeburgh beach and a special theatrical journey through the town, The Borough, devised by Punchdrunk, who brought Crash of the Elysium to Ipswich to great critical and popular acclaim earlier in the year.

Alongside the various events, Britten-Pears Foundation will be reopening Britten's home The Red House  in June 2013 with a new centre to house Britten's internationally important archive, supported by a £1.3 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant as part of the £4.5 million redevelopment. Visitors will be able to view the studio where Britten wrote his masterpieces for the first time as well as step back in history to experience the house interiors in their mid-60s appearance.

For any further information on the programme please contact Shoel Stadlen, Head of Communications at Aldeburgh Music: sstadlen@aldeburgh.co.uk.