It’s all about Britten

Happy new year, and welcome to my musings about all things choral.

As a composer with an anniversary this year, concerts featuring the works of Benjamin Britten are being performed up and down the land (see the Britten Pears Foundation’s website for a comprehensive list). The CBSO Chorus’s schedule is no different, beginning with three performances of the Spring Symphony, two with the CBSO in Birmingham, and one with the Philharmonia at the Royal Festival Hall. All of these will be conducted by Ed Gardner, the CBSO’s principal guest conductor, who is a Chorus favourite.

I am working on liking this piece. The lack of warmth towards it may be due to the fragmented rehearsal schedule – the Chorus has sung Mahler, Beethoven, Harvey and Christmas concerts since beginning rehearsals for the Britten – or it may be the kind of piece that will sound much better with the addition of soloists and orchestra. The main issue at the moment is my (and fellow sop 2 members) inability to sing about snails and their ‘shellies’ with anything approaching a straight face.

In more things Britten, I’m looking forward to the War Requiem, for which we seem to be going for some sort of world record for number of performances. Coming up this year are concerts in Birmingham, London (St Paul’s Cathedral), Hannover, Dresden and Paris. It never fails to amaze me the opportunities that joining a choir (albeit in this case a very good one) can give you! One of our best Requiem performances to date was in my local venue, Coventry cathedral. If you missed it, there’s always the DVD


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