A superb weekend was had from 1-3 March 2019 in Bilbao with Britten Sinfonia and a delightful group of Supporters. In a busy weekend, the group enjoyed three fantastic Britten Sinfonia concerts in Bilbao’s Euskalduna Centre, as a part of the vibrant Musika-Música Festival 2019, themed around programmes by British and American composers. The orchestra played brilliantly and there were many opportunities to mix with the orchestra in receptions, lunches, and behind the scenes events such as rehearsals. Supporters stayed in a five star hotel and enjoyed a private tour of the magnificent Guggenheim museum and Bilbao’s old quarter.
On Day 1, 1 March, Supporters joined the orchestra to watch rehearsals at Saffron Hall for what were three challenging and intense programmes of music. The group then travelled with the orchestra to Stansted Airport and on to the wonderful Carlton Hotel in Bilbao.
Day 2, 2 March. A lovely sunny Spanish day and a busy day for the orchestra with two concerts in the Euskalduna Centre. The first concert at 11.15am consisted of a programme of Copland’s Two Pieces for Chamber Orchestra, Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, where Britten Sinfonia were joined by the Carducci Quartet, and an additional joint performance of Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro. Following this was a tasty lunch at the Guggenheim Museum Bistro, and then excellent local tour guide Aitor Delgado showed the group around the Guggenheim Museum. Once the culture had been absorbed at the Guggenheim Museum, Aitor took the group to the old town to experience the more authentic Bilbao area, meanwhile Britten Sinfonia rehearsed ahead of the evening concert. A compulsory photo had to be taken with Jeff Koon’s famous floral Puppy (see photo in the gallery below)! The evening concert was fabulous and had sold out four days prior to the Festival beginning. The programme featured Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, with guest clarinettist and local star in Bilbao’s music scene, José Luis Estellés, as well as Britten’s Variations of a theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10. Players and supporters enjoyed chatting over post-concert drinks in the bar area.
Day 3, 3 March. Some Supporters chose to watch the final rehearsal ahead of the final Britten Sinfonia concert at 11am. In this concert Britten Sinfonia was joined by the acclaimed tenor Nicholas Muhlroy, as the soloist for Britten’s hauntingly beautiful Les Illuminations. The programme also included Frank Bridge’s Suite for Chamber Orchestra. The orchestra looks forward to working with Nicholas Muhlroy for a very special performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion on Good Friday in April 2020.
Following the concert, there was a lovely drinks reception and celebratory end of tour lunch with principal players and key staff members. Everyone enjoyed a bit of time on Sunday afternoon to do a bit more sight-seeing and grab some of Bilbao’s famous Pintxos. Despite Storm Freya’s attempts to keep Britten Sinfonia and Supporters in Bilbao, the group managed to get home with some great memories of a fantastic weekend, and already looking forward to the next adventure.
Kay: “It felt as though we were valued as part, or at least an extension of the Britten Sinfonia family. ‘Family’ really does seem to describe something of the Britten Sinfonia atmosphere.”
Sarah: “I enjoyed every minute… I will always cherish the memories of this last weekend.”
Jonathan: “The concerts were, of course, wonderful, but the tour and the lunches were also excellent and we much enjoyed the company of the other guests and, above all, the players.”
You can get invited to exclusive events including pre-concert receptions, dinners, and get to know Britten Sinfonia’s musicians by supporting the orchestra. Find our more here.