Benjamin Britten Centenary Festival

2013-britten-festival-sideIt gives me great pleasure to introduce you to St Edmundsbury Cathedral's Benjamin Britten Centenary Festival. This year, musicians throughout the world will be celebrating the centenary year of Benjamin Britten and this is especially true in Suffolk, where Britten was born and spent much of his life.

The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward
Dean of St Edmundsbury

Friday 1 November

7.30 pm Choral Concert by The Rodolfus Choir conducted by Ralph Allwood
Tickets £15 / £10 / £8

"One of Britain's very finest young choirs"
BBC Music Magazine
"Unspeakably beautiful...truly memorable performance...exemplary in every respect"
Gramophone Magazine

Choral works by Britten and Paul Mealor, composer of The Military Wives' Christmas number 1 single Wherever You Are. Paul Mealor was voted the nation's favourite living composer in Classic FM's 2012 Hall of Fame. He intends to be present for this.
The programme includes Britten's Hymn to St Cecilia, Hymn to the Virgin, Five Flower Songs, and Rejoice in the Lamb, as well as Paul Mealor's Praise, a newly-commissioned companion piece to Rejoice in the Lamb.

Tickets are available on the door.

Saturday 2 November

The Cathedral Refectory is available for morning coffee and home cooked lunches made from locally sourced ingredients. On Saturday 2 November it will be open until 5 pm for afternoon tea.

10.30 am Britten, the Words in the Cathedral Lecture Room
Tickets £5

Reading and discussion of poems, literature and texts used by Britten in his songs and operas, led by the Dean, Dr Frances Ward, with readings by well-known broadcaster Sue Lawley; her husband, the author Hugh Williams; Martin Shaw, former Bishop of Argyll and the Isles and sometime Precentor of this Cathedral, and Elizabeth Cook, the Cathedral’s writer- in-residence. After the readings and discussion, Ronald Blythe will talk with the Dean about his latest book on Benjamin Britten published this summer, called The Time by the Sea, and about his collaboration with Britten. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase. Coffee and pastries will be served.

Tickets are available on the door (a limited number).

1.30 pm Introductory Cathedral Tour
No Charge

To book a free place on the tour call 01284 748721 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

2.30 pm Britten, the Music
Song recital by John Graham-Hall, tenor, and Peter Davis, piano, with Sue Lawley, speaker

Tickets £15 / £10

John Graham-Hall, Aschenbach in ENO’s 2013 Death in Venice and La Scala’s Aschenbach and Peter Grimes, sings a selection of Britten’s songs and music from the operas.  Programme to include Winter Words, Folk Songs and excerpts from the operas Albert Herring, Billy Budd and Death in Venice. With commentary by Sue Lawley.

Tickets are available on the door.

8.30 pm Britten, the Man
Michael Chance, counter-tenor, John Graham-Hall, tenor, and Peter Davis, piano.  Guests to include Alan Britten, the composer’s nephew and President of the Friends of Aldeburgh Music, Ronald Blythe and Simon Heffer, chaired by Bishop Martin Shaw.

Tickets £25 / £15

A soirée of music and chat, preceded by a Prosecco and canapé reception at 7.30 pm in the Refectory. There will be performances of music by Britten, including Canticle 2: Abraham and Isaac, and a round-table discussion, where guests will explore what he was like as a friend and colleague.

At 7.30 pm, Bury Round Table’s annual fireworks and bonfire night will take place in the Abbey Gardens.

Tickets are available on the door for both the reception (a limited number) and concert. 

Sunday 3 November

10.00 am Festal Eucharist including Britten's Corpus Christi Carol and the Fanfare for St Edmundsbury
Preacher: The Right Reverend Martin Shaw

11.30 am Festal Mattins including Britten's Te Deum and Jubilate in C

3.30 pm Festal Evensong including Britten's Antiphon

St Edmundsbury Cathedral Choir of Boys and Men will lead the music at all three choral services on Sunday, directed by James Thomas. The rarely- performed Fanfare for St Edmundsbury, for three trumpets, originally performed in St Edmundsbury Abbey Ruins under the direction of Benjamin Britten, will be played at the Eucharist.

Weekend Ticket

The weekend ticket, at £50, covers entry to all events, seated in the Front of Nave seats, and a souvenir programme (normally £2). The Weekend Ticket must be purchased by Friday 25 October. Limited number available. Cathedral tour must still be pre-booked.

2013-britten-festival-angelAccommodation Offer

Stay at The Angel Hotel for the weekend, with a 20% discount.  Book through The Angel (01284 714007) with discount code Britten; discount available for bed and breakfast, excluding Romantic and Contemporary Suites.

More Information

For further details, please see the festival leaflet

Please note that the orchestral concert previously advertised for the Saturday Evening with the Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra has been cancelled, owing to a clash with the fireworks.


Friday, October 24, 2014