Centenary of Benjamin Britten's birth celebrated with concert series by BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales

It is always a great pleasure to work with this terrific group ... They bring a vitality and commitment to everything they do."David Atherton, Conductor
Date: 20.12.2012     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.03
BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales will perform a series of concerts in 2013 featuring the works of Benjamin Britten, as part of UK-wide celebrations of Britten’s centenary.

One of the UK’s most feted composers, Benjamin Britten wrote prolifically during his lifetime, leaving behind a treasured legacy of operas, orchestral works, concertos and choral pieces. In 2013, the centenary of his birth will be commemorated with a wide range of concerts across the UK – including in Cardiff, by BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales.

As part of the celebrations, BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales present a performance of Britten’s Spring Symphony, at Cardiff’s St David’s Hall on Friday 25 January. Britten’s Spring Symphony is a work that, in the composer’s own words, represents 'the progress of Winter to Spring and the reawakening of the earth and life which that means'. Comprising of 12 songs, Britten takes his inspiration from springtime texts by poets including John Milton, William Blake, and his friend W H Auden.

Returning to the Orchestra for this performance is conductor David Atherton: “My relationship with the musicians of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales goes way back to March 1969 and I have appeared with them in most seasons since. It is always a great pleasure to work with this terrific group; I particularly relished my recent time with them as Principal Guest Conductor. They bring a vitality and commitment to everything they do, so it will be a real joy to perform with them one of Britten's finest works, his glorious Spring Symphony.”

The piece is scored for orchestra, chorus and soloists – and for this performance the Orchestra and Chorus are joined by soprano Elizabeth Atherton, alto Jennifer Johnston, tenor Andrew Kennedy, and the voices of the Cardiff Polyphonic Choir, alongside a children’s choir comprising of choristers from cathedrals across south Wales.

Joining the Orchestra on stage for this concert on Friday 25 January Paul Lewis – the British pianist who was the first to perform all of Beethoven’s piano concertos at the BBC Proms 2010. In this concert he presents Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 5 - his Emperor Concerto, the last piano concerto that Beethoven completed.

The celebrations continue in the Orchestra and Chorus’s home in Cardiff Bay, BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff Bay, with four concerts from January to May 2013 featuring works by Britten:

  • On Tuesday 8 January, Vilde Frang joins the Orchestra to perform Britten’s Violin Concerto;
  • On Tuesday 19 February, the Orchestra’s Principal Clarinet Robert Plane explores Britten’s Movements for a clarinet concerto;
  • On Thursday 28 March, Britten’s Double Concerto features performances by violist Lawrence Power and violinist Anthony Marwood;
  • BBC National Chorus of Wales will explore the vocal output of Britten in a concert at BBC Hoddinott Hall on Wednesday 8 May.

Booking Information

Tickets for the concert at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, on Friday 25 January, 7.30pm are £10-£27.50 (discounts available) and are available through the St David’s Hall Box Office on 02920 878444, or by visiting www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk.

Tickets for the four Britten concerts at BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff Bay, are priced at £8.50-£11.50 (discounts available) and can be booked through the Wales Millennium Centre by calling 02920 636464, or by visiting www.wmc.org.uk.

Alternatively, tickets for all of the Orchestra’s concerts can be booked through the BBC National Orchestra of Wales’s Audience Line, by calling 0800 052 1812.

For more information about the Orchestra, visit their website at bbc.co.uk/now.

Notes to Editors

The concert at St David’s Hall on Friday 25 January will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

DH