The Academy of St Martin in the Fields will give a concert celebrating Britten’s centenary at Cadogan Hall on Thursday 23 May, including a new work by Sally Beamish, Variations on a Theme of Benjamin Britten.
The piece (premiered at Turner Sims, Southampton, on 9 May) echoes Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge and uses a theme from the Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, a piece which Beamish says is ‘very close to my heart’.
Sally Beamish: ‘When they asked me about this companion piece for Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge it appealed to me so strongly because I played that piece with them, and the idea of doing a piece related to that was incredibly exciting.’
After an introductory fanfare and initial statement of the theme, the first variation takes the form of a Barcarole ‒ the traditional Venetian boat song ‒ a symbolic spanning of Britten’s operatic output from his first to his last opera, Death in Venice. Later, a Lament is for those lost in war ‒ an acknowledgement of Britten’s strongly held pacifist beliefs.
The piece will be directed from the leader’s chair by Stephanie Gonley. The programme also includes Britten’s Lachrymae with viola soloist Lawrence Power, Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro, Pärt’s Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten, concluding with the original Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge.
Tickets £10-£36. Cadogan Hall, London, 7.30pm. There will be a pre-concert talk in the auditorium at 6.30pm. Click here to buy tickets.
This article has been corrected to reflect the fact that the first performance of Variations on a Theme of Benjamin Britten was at Turner Sims, Southampton, on 9 May.