Wednesday 10 October 2012

The centenaries of two British composers - Benjamin Britten and George Lloyd

Next year sees the centenary of such diverse composers as Witold Lutosławski (1913–1994), René Leibowitz (1913–1972), Tikhon Nikolaievich Khrennikov (1913–2007) and Morton Gould (1913–1996).

However, 2013 also sees the Centenary of two British composers, Benjamin Britten and George Lloyd. Whilst there is no direct link between these composers other than their birth years, they were, nevertheless, two of the three composers commissioned to provide operas for the 1951 Festival of Britain (the other being Ralph Vaughan Williams).

A year-long celebration of Benjamin Britten (1913-76) was launched recently at the Royal College of Music. The Britten-Pears Foundation has invested £6.5 million to mark Britten's centenary with all of Britten's fourteen operas being performed during the anniversary year. Gloriana will be staged at the Royal Opera House, Opera North will perform four of the operas and Birmingham Royal will stage a new production of The Prince of the Pagodas.

Aldeburgh will see a performance of Peter Grimes on the beach and a performance of the Church Parables at Orford Church. Death in Venice will be conducted by Oliver Knussen and a production of Noye's Fludde in Lowestoft where Britten was born.

There will be many performances of Britten's music worldwide including some forty six performances of the War Requiem. Other International performances will include the first Russian performance of Death in Venice at the Moscow Conservatoire, and the first of the Church Parables in Russia with Mahogany Opera. A production of Peter Grimes at Tokyo's New National Theatre will mark the first performance in Japan of any Britten opera, whilst Sir Simon Rattle will conduct the War Requiem with the Berlin Philharmonic.  Four of Britten’s operas will be heard at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein and The Opéra de Lyon will also stage four of the operas.  New York will mark the centenary with a Britten festival in early part of 2013.

Other initiatives include the redevelopment of Britten's former home, The Red House, before opening it to the public. The BBC will present a year-long celebration across radio and television whilst on disc Decca will be issuing a complete Britten Edition.

The 2013 celebrations for George Lloyd (1913-1998) begin with a performance by the St Albans Chamber Choir of his Requiem planned for 19th January 2012.       

On 26th January 2012 the Tredegar Brass Band will perform Royal Parks in Manchester and on 27th January 2012 the Leyland Band will perform Diversions on Bass Theme also in Manchester.

More of Lloyd’s works for brass will be included at the Royal Northern College of Music’s Annual Festival of Brass from 27th to 29th January 2012.                        

The composer’s nephew William Lloyd will be giving a talk on George Lloyd entitled ‘The George Lloyd Story’ again in Manchester on 27th January 2012.

More performances of Lloyd’s brass band music will feature the Manchester Cory Band on 27th January 2012 with King's Messenger and RNCM Brass on 27th January 2012 with HMS Trinidad.

Lloyd’s Symphony No 5 will be performed at Waterloo, London on 8th June 2012 by the Philharmonica Britannica conducted by Peter Fender

The 15th June 2012 sees the West of England Bandsman’s Brass Festival taking English Heritage as the Championship Test Piece.

The St Ives Cornish Sinfonia, conducted by David Frost, are planning to perform Lloyd’s Symphony No. 6 and a string orchestra version of In Memoriam as well as the World Premiere of Lloyd’s Le Pont du Gard at the Guildhall St Ives on 28th June 2012. Other planned works are likely to be by Graham Fitkin, David Frost and Russell Pascoe. There will also be an exhibition in the Guildhall.

There will be a London performance of Lloyd’s Symphony No 9 by Ealing Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Gibbons at St Barnabas church in Ealing on 13th July2012.

The emphasis again returns to Lloyd’s native Cornwall in September 2012 when there is a planned performance of Symphony No.10 and A Miniature Triptych as part of the St Ives September Festival. The Truro Three Spires Singers will be holding a George Lloyd seminar with a talk on George Lloyd by William Lloyd, a guest speaker talking about Lloyd’s Orchestral and Choral works, a talk on George Lloyd’s connection with St Ives by Janet Axten, sung extracts from A Symphonic Mass and a George Lloyd exhibition.

The St Mewan Sinfonia conducted by David Frost is also planning to include a Lloyd work in their programme for 2012.

The culmination of the year of centenary celebrations with be at Truro Cathedral on Saturday 23rd November as part of the Three Spires Singers concert when there will be the Cornish premiere of A Symphonic Mass, together with a performance of Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

Some of the events and dates are still to be finalised and I will post an update as soon as more is known.

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