Britten Sinfonia starts its Barbican Spring 2022 concert series exploring the noises of the city and the sounds of the natural world, and ends with the orchestra joining Opera Rara for the first performance since its premiere of Italian composer Saverio Mercadante’s 1842 opera, Il Proscritto. Along the way, Britten Sinfonia and tenor Ian Bostridge shine a light on the influence of folk song and dance on 20th and 21st century composers in a concert curated and conducted by James MacMillan, and Mark Elder conducts a rare performance of Sāvitri, Gustav Holst’s Mahabharata-inspired 1909 chamber opera.
4 March 2022, 9.30pm, Milton Court Concert Hall
As part of the Barbican’s 40th birthday celebrations, Britten Sinfonia, conducted by Jonathan Bloxham, performs Steve Reich’s pulsating City Life, where samples of speech as well as car horns, air brakes, subway chimes, pile driver, car alarms, heartbeats, boat horns and sirens are part of the fabric of the piece. Brett Dean’s Pastoral Symphony (2000) is about “glorious birdsong, the threat that it faces, the loss, and the soulless noise that we’re left with when they’re all gone.” The programme is completed by a new work by Dobrinka Tabakova, co-commissioned with the Barbican.
17 March 2022, 7.30pm, Milton Court Concert Hall
Tenor Ian Bostridge joins the orchestra for a concert curated and conducted by composer James MacMillan centred on the influence of folk music on composers. Music includes a new arrangement of MacMillan’s Three Scottish Songs, settings of poems by Scottish poet William Soutar, and the reflective A Meditation on Iona, alongside a selection of folk song arrangements by Britten, Grainger, Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances and a new arrangement by Britten Sinfonia Leader Jacqueline Shave of Bartok’s Burlesque from his String Quartet No. 6.
4 May 2022, 7.30pm, Barbican
Britten Sinfonia and Mark Elder join forces with Pagrav Dance Company to bring to life Holst’s chamber opera Sāvitri. Holst had a deep interest in ancient Sanskrit literature, and his opera, a musing on love and death, takes inspiration from the Mahabharata tale of Sāvitri’s battle to save her husband. This new interpretation of Sāvitri, with mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge in the title role, has been conceived in collaboration with choreographer Urja Desai Thakore – one of the UK’s leading kathak practitioners – and her ground-breaking Pagrav Dance Company, using dance to shine a new light on an ancient story. The programme also features Holst’s setting of hymns from one of Hinduism’s most important works, the Rig Veda, alongside music by Grace Williams and Benjamin Britten (who were friends and contemporaries at the Royal College of Music in the 1930s) and a concluding set from Jacqueline Shave’s longstanding duo with tabla virtuoso Kuljit Bhamra.
28 June 2022, 7.30pm, Barbican
Britten Sinfonia joins with Opera Rara for the first performance in over 200 years of Il Proscritto by the prolific – and in his day, popular – Italian composer Saverio Mercadante (1795 – 1870). Opera Rara Artistic Director and 19th century opera specialist Carlo Rizzi conducts an exceptional cast in the first performance of Mercadante’s score since its Naples premiere in 1842. Restored from its original manuscript, Il Proscritto (one of 60 operas Mercadante composed) weaves a tragic tale of lost love and political treachery during the rule of Oliver Cromwell. (Tuesday 28 June, Barbican Hall).
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