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Britten Sinfonia

The Britten Sinfonia is a chamber orchestra that, in its own words, "is inspired by the ethos of Benjamin Britten through world-class performances, illuminating and distinctive programmes where old meets new, and a deep commitment to bringing outstanding music to both the world's finest concert halls and the local community." The orchestra was heard on several albums in 2021, including recordings of Grayston Ives' Requiem and the rare Donizetti opera Il Paria. The Britten Sinfonia was founded in 1992 and is based in Cambridge, England. Among the founders was the choral conductor Nicholas Cleobury. The Sinfonia operates without a principal conductor, with David Butcher serving as chief executive and artistic director from its founding until 2020. He was succeeded that year by Meurig Bowen. The Sinfonia, made up of freelance musicians working on a project-by-project basis, performs about 70 concerts a year, generally moving from place to place and taking up short residences in cities where it works with local musicians and performing arts presenters. The ensemble's project collaborators have included composers (Thomas Adès, Roderick Williams, James MacMillan), performers (Ian Bostridge, Iestyn Davies, Polyphony), conductors (Masaaki Suzuki), and jazz and popular musicians (Brad Mehldau, Rufus Wainwright). An Associate Ensemble at the Barbican in London, the Britten Sinfonia has also held residencies in Norwich, Cambridge (where it is an Ensemble-in-Residence at the University), and elsewhere. The group has a chamber music series at London's Wigmore Hall and has appeared at the prestigious Aldeburgh Festival and BBC Proms. The Britten Sinfonia has toured North and South America, continental Europe, and Asia, including a tour of China in May 2016, with performances in Shanghai, Beijing, and Wuhan. The Britten Sinfonia, a nonprofit organization and registered charity, encompasses a Creative Learning Department, which offers a Britten Sinfonia Academy for young musicians to train and perform with members of the orchestra, as well as a Britten Sinfonia Academy Composer Hub to mentor young composers. In 2013, the orchestra launched the OPUS composition competition, inviting submissions from unpublished composers of any age. This competition was divided into two in 2021: Opus 1 and Magnum Opus. That year, the Britten Sinfonia was heard on an Opera Rara recording of Donizetti's Il Paria, under Sir Mark Elder, as well as the Signum Classics recordings Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 7-9; Gerald Barry: The Eternal Recurrence, conducted by Thomas Adès, and Grayston Ives: Requiem, with the Jesus College Choir, Cambridge, under conductor Richard Pinel.
© James Manheim & Keith Finke /TiVo


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