Frequently Asked Questions
Do you get instrumental lessons as part of the Academy?
No, we would expect you to continue studying your instrument with your current instrumental teacher while taking part in the Academy. You will work with some of the UK’s top chamber musicians, but not individually in the traditional teacher / student fashion. Britten Sinfonia Academy is designed to work alongside your current instrumental lessons and your participation in school, private or Music Service ensembles.
How does Britten Sinfonia Academy work alongside my other my other musical commitments?
We strongly believe that the skills gained from taking part in Britten Sinfonia Academy will be in addition to the skills you get from taking part in other musical opportunities. For example, working with Britten Sinfonia is totally different from playing in a symphony orchestra and will require different skills. If you are already a member of a County or School Music Ensemble, we will expect you to continue to take part in that ensemble whilst playing in Britten Sinfonia Academy. We are working closely with the Music Services to ensure that our opportunities don’t clash, as we want to support and encourage you to attend both.
We appreciate that young musicians are often very busy and that it is difficult to balance school work, life and music. If you want to discuss your personal situation, please do get in touch with Isobel Timms, Britten Sinfonia Academy Manager.
How much does it cost to become a member of Britten Sinfonia Academy?
We are looking to recruit musicians regardless of their financial means, ethnic or social background.
Bursaries are available, both to cover fees and travel. Please contact Isobel Timms, Britten Sinfonia Academy Manager, if you would like to discuss bursaries.
Britten Sinfonia Academy is supported by the Monument Trust, and we have therefore been able to keep fees to a minimum. There will be a fee for 2015-16 of £200, which will be payable on accepting a place in Britten Sinfonia Academy.
If I become a member of the Academy, how long will I be a member for?
Britten Sinfonia Academy will be a one year opportunity. At the end of the year, members will be able to re-audition if you would like to take part for another year.
What is the commitment?
In the first year, the group will meet for 12 days of core music courses and all members will be required to commit to all course dates. In addition, there may be opportunities to meet players at BS rehearsals and concerts that you are invited to.
Where will Britten Sinfonia Academy take place?
Britten Sinfonia Academy will recruit musicians from all over the East, and will not have a fixed home. However, we regularly play in Norwich and Cambridge and we therefore expect the Academy to reflect that. We will alternate our meeting places, throughout the year, and also take into account where the recruited members of the group live. All participants will be required to travel to attend all opportunities throughout the region but we will of course do our best to arrange lift shares and travel bursaries will be available.
What are the dates for the 2015-16 Academy?
Wherever possible, we will require all participants to attend all sessions throughout the year. In addition, other opportunities and invitations may present themselves, however are the compulsory dates for 2015-16.
I’m also interested in Aldeburgh Young Musicians – what’s your advice?
Our two organisations are in close communication and are equally committed to ensuring that young musicians from the East of England are able to access high quality musical opportunities. The two schemes can complement each other very well and where appropriate, we will recommend young musicians to apply for AYM and vice versa. We are keen to help young musicians discover the most appropriate opportunities for themselves as individuals. We also hope to work together and share opportunities in the future.
It may be appropriate for you to become a member of both groups or for one organisation to direct you to the other.
You can discuss this choice with your music teacher, and both Isobel from Britten Sinfonia and Colin Virr from AYM are happy to chat to you about what is suitable for you as an individual.
What are the main differences between Aldeburgh Young Musicians and Britten Sinfonia Academy?
Aldeburgh Young Musicians is part of a national network of Centres for Advanced Training (CAT), endorsed by the Department for Education (DfE). Their distinctive scheme is intended to develop and nurture young musicians of exceptional potential through continued development, rather than to provide one-off ‘holiday’ courses. For those who choose, Aldeburgh Young Musicians is providing a completely balanced and personalised music programme which coordinates individual lessons, intensive residential courses at Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Suffolk, mentoring and performance opportunities. Their programme takes into account an individual’s contribution towards county or national ensembles and orchestras, too, and so complements the programme offered through Britten Sinfonia Academy. AYM is designed to provide students with a broad musical experience which will help them develop into an exciting, creative young musician.
AYM works with young people from a wide range of musical backgrounds. The scheme is less about formal teaching and more about encouragement to question and experiment, using their talents to explore new ways of working, including creating new music and in different styles and genres. Aldeburgh Young Musicians have fabulous opportunities to develop their individual musical identity but fewer opportunities to work within more formally structured ensembles. Find out more on their website.
Britten Sinfonia Academy on the other hand, is a year long programme and we are a flexible and open-minded group of musicians but rooted in classical chamber orchestra tradition. We want to replicate this with Britten Sinfonia Academy and are searching for classically trained young musicians, with a passion to learn and explore.
Britten Sinfonia Academy will help to develop young musicians’ skills as chamber musicians, leaders and team players. Although we will run one creative course per year, where we will look at improvisation, creative composition and collaborative work, the main foundation of our courses will be working as a chamber orchestra.
Britten Sinfonia Academy 2015-16
Britten Sinfonia Academy is now recruiting for 2015-16. For our fourth year we are looking to bring together talented young musicians of secondary school age from across the East of England with professional Britten Sinfonia musicians, to work at the highest possible level and explore a variety of music and skills.
Want to get involved? Find out more by clicking the links below.
How to Apply
Britten Sinfonia are recruiting for another year with applications are now open for Britten Sinfonia Academy 2015-16.
The deadline for auditiions in February is Friday 16 January 2015, however we will continue to accept applications until Friday 6 March 2015 for auditions in April.
How to Apply?
To apply for Britten Sinfonia Academy you must:
Complete the Application form, which can be done
B) Download the PDF here and send it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org,
Or by post to:
Britten Sinfonia Academy,
13 Sturton Street,
- Ask your instrumental music teacher or your school music teacher to write a short paragraph for you. Download the PDF here and attach it to your online form or send it seperately via email or by post.
What happens next?
Once we receive you application and teacher supporting statement, we will let you know whether you are invited to the Audition and when and where it will take place. We will also send you a short piece you will be asked to learn and perform in a chamber group in the audition.
You will be invited to one of the following audition dates:
Friday 20 February – Cambridge (Half term)
Saturday 21 February – Ipswich (Half term)
Thursday 9 April – Saffron Walden (Easter holidays)
Friday 10 April – Norwich (Easter holidays)
Saturday 11 April – Peterborough (Easter holidays)
Sunday 26 April- Cambridge (Easter holidays)
Audition days are designed so that you have time to get to know us, and us you. Sessions will last for approximately 3 hours and in that time you will have the opportunity to meet, hear and play alongside Britten Sinfonia members who will be the Academy tutors.
The session will include:
• Introduction from Britten Sinfonia musicians
• Group exercises
• Work as a small chamber group (alongside other young musicians and Britten Sinfonia musicians)
• Solo performance performed to the panel (c. 10 minutes, accompanist provided)
• Short interview with the panel
“The audition really felt like a relaxed, enjoyable and social day spent exploring music. It really gives you a taste what a Britten Sinfonia Academy course is usually like.”- Britten Sinfonia Academy musician 2013.
After the audition you will be informed whether we can offer you a place. If positive you will be offered a Full or Associate Membership.
If you wish to be considered for the Audition in February the deadline is Friday 16 January 2015, however we will continue to accept applications until Friday 6 March for auditions in April.
Can I get involved?
Britten Sinfonia Academy is now recruiting for 2015-16. For another year we are looking to bring together talented young musicians of secondary school age from across the East of England with professional Britten Sinfonia musicians, to work at the highest possible level and explore a variety of music and skills.
We are recruiting for the instruments that traditionally play in a chamber orchestra:
Violin | Viola | Cello | Double Bass | Flute | Oboe | Clarinet | Bassoon | Horn | Trumpet | Trombone | Percussion | Harp | Piano
We are looking for advanced players of grade 8- standard or equivalent- although you don't have to have taken any exams.
We are looking for young musicians who love making music.
o talented classical players
o open minded and inquisitive
o passionate about their instrument
o Working in large and small groups alike
o Playing in an orchestra and would like to discover different ways of working
o Collaborating and exploring new music
What will members get out of it?
Working alongside members of Britten Sinfonia who will be the lead tutors on Britten Sinfonia Academy projects, we will give the Academy members experiences of
- playing as a chamber orchestra, often without a conductor
- leading and working collaboratively, where your ability to be part of the team and contribute your musical ideas is key
- playing in small chamber groups
- discovering new repertoire and contemporary composers
- being inspired by guest artists and their ways of working
- understanding how the professional ensemble works with opportunities to hear the orchestra in rehearsals and concerts
- mentoring from a Britten Sinfonia musician
- exclusive high-profile performance opportunities
Interested in becoming a Britten Sinfonia Academy member? Find out more about how to get involved here.
Sinfonia Students is our ambassador scheme for students based in Cambridge, Norwich and London offering valuable work experience and the chance to help Britten Sinfonia build it's profile amongst the student community. Please see the relevant section below for more details. If you would like to get involved but have missed the deadlines below please still get in touch as there may be other opportunities that we can offer.
University of Cambridge students
Sinfonia Marketing Student
(appointed for one academic year)
Deadline for applications: 5pm, Friday 24 October 2014.
Sinfonia Online Student
(appointed for one academic year)
Deadline for applications: 5pm, Friday 24 October 2014.
Anglia Ruskin University students
Sinfonia Student Ambassador
(appointed for one academic year)
Deadline for applications EXTENDED: 5pm, Friday 31 October 2014.
This scheme is being updated. Please check back soon for more details.
This scheme is being updated. Please check back soon for more details.
If you are a student in any of these areas and would like to talk to us about these work experience opportunities, have suggestions for improvements to the schemes or have any questions please call Karys on 01223 300795 or email email@example.com.
Britten Sinfonia Voices
Britten Sinfonia Voices is a professional vocal ensemble which reflects the artistic vision and range of one of Europe’s leading chamber orchestras, Britten Sinfonia.
Britten Sinfonia Voices is made up of some of the finest professional voices – both emerging talent and experienced singers – a combination in keeping with Britten Sinfonia’s ethos. The group is equally adept at performing repertoire from the Baroque to the latest new music and is directed by the acclaimed choral conductor and singer, Eamonn Dougan, who carefully selects and prepares the Voices for each project. They have performed a range of works including Mendelssohn’s Elijah, L’enfance du Christ by Berlioz and premiered new works by Nico Muhly and Eriks Esenvalds under conductors including Sir Mark Elder, David Hill, and Andreas Delfs amongst others.
In 2013-14 Britten Sinfonia Voices will work on projects as diverse as Netia Jones new production of Britten’s Curlew River at the Barbican, concerts to celebrate Harrison Birtwistle’s 80th birthday and a tour of the Bach St John Passion with concerts at London’s Barbican and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. They also make their debut at Wigmore Hall in a new work by Roderick Williams as part of the Britten Sinfonia’s award winning At Lunch series.
Britten Sinfonia Academy
Britten Sinfonia Academy was established back in 2011 and is now in its third year. Working with young, talented, secondary school age players from the East of England, the Academy focuses on aspects that make Britten Sinfonia unique: playing without conductor, mixing up genres and playing in different styles, performing in small chamber groups, improvising, composing and exploring new music as well as working with inspiring special guests. Young musicians are encouraged to take creative responsibility for their music-making, developing leadership skills than enable them to collaborate and work democratically within an ensemble.
At Britten Sinfonia Academy we are passionate about music and working collaboratively to input creative ideas and we have fun doing it.
"As a result of participating in Britten Sinfonia Academy this year I have developed the ability to think musically for myself and voice opinions more in rehearsals."- Britten Sinfonia Academy musician 2014
Academy members are also offered exclusive opportunities to see Britten Sinfonia in rehearsals and discounted tickets to Britten Sinfonia concerts throughout the year. Find out more using the menu on the left and feel free to contact us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Britten Sinfonia Own Label
Britten Sinfonia launched its first own label CD in March 2009. The orchestra is acclaimed for its rigorous, adventurous approach to programming and Britten Sinfonia Own Label follows suit. To order copies of Britten Sinfonia's own label CD's for £10 each plus postage and packing please complete an order form and send with a cheque to Karys Orman, Britten Sinfonia, 13 Sturton Street, Cambridge, CB1 2SN. Download order form
Read reviews of the two discs here
The first release set the tone, with artistic fusions and distinctive new works performed by Britten Sinfonia and outstanding guest artists. Songs of the Sky, features recent Britten Sinfonia commissions by Tarik O’Regan, Huw Watkins, Steve Martland, John Tavener and jazz saxophonist Jason Yarde and features soloists Alina Ibragimova, Nicholas Daniel, Julius Drake, Joanna MacGregor, Jacqueline Shave and Jason Yarde. The running order is:
- Steve Martland Tiger Dancing Click here to listen to a 1 minute clip
- Huw Watkins Dream Click here to listen to a 1 minute clip
- Tarik O’Regan Raï Click here to listen to a 1 minute clip
- Jason Yarde Who Knows the Beauty Click here to listen to a 1 minute clip
- John Tavener Songs of the Sky Click here to listen to a 1 minute clip
Britten Sinfonia Own Label’s second release is devoted to the music of Paul Hindemith and in particular his compositions for the organ, used so creatively to create new sound-worlds in his ensemble piece, Kammermusick 7. Alongside his sublime wind quintet, Hindemith’s complete solo organ music is featured (including the first recording of his Zwei Stüke)performed by the celebrated young organist Daniel Hyde on the new organ by Orgalbau Kuhn at Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge.
- Kammermusik No. 7 Op. 46 No. 2 Click here to listen to a 1 minute clip
- Sonate 111 uber alte Volkslieder Click here to listen to a 1 minute clip
- Zwei Stucke fur Orgel Click here to listen to a 1 minute clip
- Kleine Kammermusik fur funf Blaser Click here to listen to a 1 minute clip
- Sonate 11 Click here to listen to a 1 minute clip
Sonate 1 Click here to listen to a 1 minute clip
You can see our comprehensive list of CDs on the Recordings page.
2013 was an extremely busy year for Britten Sinfonia with the orchestra giving more concerts than ever before and reaching more people through our Creative Learning programme. This was recognised by the Royal Philharmonic Society when we were awarded the RPS Ensemble Award in May 2013.
The year also marked the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth. Britten Sinfonia is inspired by the ethos of Britten through world class performances, illuminating and distinctive programmes where old meets new. Throughout 2013 we performed Britten’s music across the UK and further afield in both traditional concert performances and more unusual settings. This included his Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings at the magical Theatre in the Woods at Britten’s old school, Greshams; a community performance of Noye’s Fludde at the London Cruise Terminal in Tilbury and a critically acclaimed production of Curlew River directed by Netia Jones and starring Ian Bostridge in St Giles Cripplegate as part of Barbican Britten. Indeed the Barbican Britten festival saw us collaborate with a huge range of artists including Richard Alston Dance Company in an Olivier Award nominated production of Phaedre, tenor Mark Padmore, and violinist Pekka Kuusisto.
Unique collaborations featured throughout the year with tours with Angela Hewitt, Alina Ibragimova, Colin Currie, Paul Lewis, Mark Padmore and Pekka Kuusisto amongst others; a teonight residency at the Royal Opera House with Antony & the Johnsons; seven performances at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio of Gerald Barry’s acclaimed opera The Importance of Being Earnest; and gigs with Olafur Arnalds, Zbigniew Preisner and Stian Westerhus.
Britten Sinfonia celebrated the opening of the brand new Saffron Hall with a gala concert in November and toured further afield to Eastern Europe, Oslo, The Netherlands and Mexico.
The first commission through our OPUS scheme was performed. OPUS2013 was an open call to unpublished composers with the winner, Ryan Latimer receiving a commission as part of our At Lunch series. We also performed new works by Nico Muhly, Gerald Barry, Eriks Essenvalds, Jay Greenberg, David Matthews, Judith Weir, Anna Clyne, Peter Maxwell Davies, and Sally Beamish. We also launched our Musically Gifted scheme, a chance for anyone to help commission new music from as little as £10.
Our Creative Learning team had a busy year with notable projects including work with gifted and talented musicians from bedfordhsire secondary schools to create soundtracks, a residency at the Fitzwilliam Academy for the Britten Sinfonia Academy and work with primary schools in South Norfolk to create new songs based on Britten’s Serenade for tenor, Horn and Strings.
2012 saw Britten Sinfonia in celebratory mood as the Orchestra celebrated its 20th birthday. Celebratory concerts in London, Norwich and Cambridge journeyed through 400 years of music and showcased some of Britten Sinfonia’s close collaborators, Pekka Kuusisto, Mark Padmore, Alina Ibragimova and Joanna MacGregor. The performances also featured the first public appearance of the Britten Sinfonia Academy, the Orchestras ensemble for gifted young musicians from the east of England.
The year was also notable as we started a new partnership as Associate Ensemble at one of the world’s finest arts centres, London’s Barbican. The Barbican’s wide-ranging and pioneering arts programmes sit well with Britten Sinfonia’s own eclectic artistic outlook exemplified by some of the joint projects in 2012 – multimedia stagings of Oliver Knussen’s Where the Wild Things Are; a new orchestration of Philip Glass’ Koyaanisqati as a live accompaniment to the film; Max Richter’s reimagining of Vivaldi’s Four seasons and of course the 20th Birthday concert.
Earlier in the year and further afield, Britten Sinfonia made its North American debut at New York’s Lincoln Centre and also toured to South America and across Europe.
New music continued to be a key part of the Orchestra’s programming and Britten Sinfonia premiered works by Alissa Firsova, Dobrinka Tabakova, Elspeth Brooke, Luke Bedford, Jonathan Dove, James MacMillan and Nico Muhly.
The Listening Machine, a project as part of The Space, a digital arts platform developed by Arts Council England in partnership with the BBC was launched in May 2012. The Listening Machine, devised by Daniel Jones and Peter gregson, generated a continuous piece of music based on the activity of 500 Twitter users around the UK, recorded by Britten Sinfonia.
2011 was marked by a series of firsts: The orchestra launched a new residency at Brighton Dome and Festival, and founded its own choir, Britten Sinfonia Voices – a natural extension of its commitment to artistic adventure and excellence; Sir Mark Elder made his first appearance with the orchestra ; and Britten Sinfonia also realised a long-held ambition to create its own Academy to develop and nurture young musicians and composers in the East of England.
Strong partnerships were rekindled throughout the season. Mark Padmore collaborated on a highly acclaimed programme of English Song centred on Gerald Finzi’s Dies Natalis (which was recorded for future release on Harmonia Mundi). Angela Hewitt received rave reviews for a programme of Bach and Mozart, and Joanna MacGregor was joined by Norwegian Jazz trumpeter Arve Henriksen for a wide-ranging programme which drew inspiration from the music of the American Deep South and the frozen landscapes of the North. Britten Sinfonia was invited to be part of the Barbican’s Steve Reich weekend in May, and took part in King’s Place tribute to composer John Woolrich, and performed at the BBC Proms, alongside Natalie Clein and the BBC Singers.
Britten Sinfonia’s award-winning ‘At Lunch’ concerts crossed the English Channel in March for a concert at Musee D’Orsay, Paris. The concert featured a new commission from Simon Holt. New works by Marcelo Nisinman and Charlie Piper also featured in 2011 ‘At Lunch’ concerts; BBC Radio 3 broadcast a special week of “at lunch” concerts in the Spring. “A Tenner for a Tenor” invited Britten Sinfonia supporters to turn commissioners by investing in a new work by Jonathan Dove for Mark Padmore. Hundreds took up the offer; the new work will be premiered in 2012. Colin Matthews took the helm for the annual Composers Workshop with Cambridge University. Britten Sinfonia returned to the Royal Opera House in May for the world premiere of James MacMillan’s opera Clemency, and again in July with singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright. Much of August was spent on tour in South America with Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto and tenor Allan Clayton performing Britten. The Finnish theme continued into September with “REDDRESS” – a series of performances at the London Design Festival presented by the Finnish Institute.
Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud joined the orchestra on a summer tour to South America and then for the start of the 2011/12 UK season. The season opener paired Berio with Mozart and featured a new work by young composer Piers Tattersall alongside Schubert’s Death and the Maiden. The year ended on an epic note, with Britten Sinfonia welcoming Sir Mark Elder to the orchestra to conduct Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ in December. A stellar line up of soloists featured Sarah Connolly, Allan Clayton, Neil Davies and Roderick Williams. The performance also marked the critically acclaimed debut of Britten Sinfonia’s new choir, Britten Sinfonia Voices under the direction of Eamonn Dougan, who then travelled with the orchestra to the Concertgebouw Amsterdam for a performance of Handel’s Messiah.
International touring continued apace. In the Autumn, Britten Sinfonia also headed for the Baltic States and Poland with James MacMillan and returned to Amsterdam and Eindhoven alongside Britten Sinfonia board member Germaine Greer for a programme centred on nature.
One of America’s most highly regarded young composers, Nico Muhly, was in residence with the orchestra throughout January 2010. A new work by the composer featured as part of Britten Sinfonia’s award-winning lunchtime series in January, and Impossible Things, a major commission for voice and violin, premiered as part of an acclaimed 14 date European tour which brought together Mark Padmore and Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto to explore music from both sides of the Atlantic. Britten Sinfonia’s burgeoning international profile also saw the orchestra tour to Mexico and Spain (with Joanna MacGregor) and to Krakow for a regular series of lunchtime concerts. A live recording of Britten Sinfonia and Joanna MacGregor’s 2007 tour of South America was released as “Live in Buenos Aires” by Warner Classics & Jazz in February.
A strong year for new commissions also saw works by Gwilym Simcock, Ulrich Kreppein, Christian Mason and a special birthday tribute to James MacMillan by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies performed as part of Britten Sinfonia’s At Lunch series. All new works were broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Britten Sinfonia made a first appearance at London’s Roundhouse in February as part of Roundhouse Reverb concerts, celebrated Easter with an all-Baltic programme alongside Stephen Layton and Polyphony and welcomed back Imogen Cooper for the close of her acclaimed cycle of Beethoven Concertos.
In April Britten Sinfonia spent time in the studio recording Eriks Esenvald’s Passion and Resurrection with soprano Carolyn Sampson and Polyphony, conducted by Stephen Layton. A busy summer saw appearances at the Aldeburgh Festival, Brighton Festival, City of London Festival, at the BBC Proms with I Fagiolini conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth, and a welcome return to Glyndebourne for two Stravinsky chamber operas, Renard and Maura.
The new season was launched in October 2010 with the world premiere of James MacMillan’s Oboe Concerto, written for Nicholas Daniel and the orchestra; soprano Barbara Hannigan donned leather and whip for a performance of Ligeti’s vocal tour de force, Mysteries of the Macabre and the orchestra returned to the London Jazz Festival and toured Europe with Brad Mehldau and his trio for a live performance of his Highway Rider album.
Creative Learning continued to develop talent, explore concert repertoire and create new music with a series of lively programmes, including projects for young people and children in Norfolk schools, with Cambridgeshire Pupil Referral Unit and composer-led activities in Norwich, Birmingham and London. A first collaboration with Music of Life provided opportunities for young musicians with disabilities, the ever-popular Family Music Day returned in October with a spooky theme, and the creative use of online resources continued with a popular series of podcasts and downloadable programme notes.
2009 was a busy year for Britten Sinfonia CD releases, in the spring the first release on the Britten Sinfonia own label Songs of the Sky was made, followed by a selection of works by Hindemith. The end of the year saw the release of Handel’s Messiah recorded with Polyphony at St John’s Smith Square in December 2008.
Guest artists in 2009 included Imogen Cooper, Paul Lewis, Pierre Laurent-Aimard, Polyphony, Christopher Hogwood, Katia & Marielle Labèque, Simon Crawford-Phillips, Philip Moore, Lydia & Sanya Biziak, Ludovic Morlot, Henning Kraggerud, Alina Ibragimova, Maggie Cole, Cédric Tiberghien, Oliver Knussen, Ryan Wigglesworth.
In May Britten Sinfonia received the Royal Philharmonic Society Chamber Music Award in recognition of the Britten Sinfonia at Lunch series. The series commissions new works, programmes engaging and lively concerts with world class artists and musicians. Each concert tour in the series travels to Cambridge, Norwich, London, Birmingham and Krakow; the series is also recorded live in Cambridge for broadcast by BBC Radio 3.
A highlight of the summer was Britten Sinfonia’s appearance at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk. Britten Sinfonia was the first classical group to perform at the festival. The orchestra made return performances to the BBC Proms and City of London Festival.
Britten Sinfonia were involved in two exciting projects at London’s Barbican Centre in 2009; the first performing works by iconic composer Moondog and the second working with Danish folk musicians Efterklang.
Another highlight was the Pathenogenesis project, a collaboration between composer James MacMillan, the poet Michael Symmons Roberts, and Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. An intriguing music-theatre piece which was performed at the Library Studio, Royal Opera House. Britten Sinfonia were also involved with a new opera, The Yellow Sofa, by Julian Philips, with a libretto by Edward Kemp for The Jerwood Chorus Development Scheme at Glyndebourne.
The autumn brought the opening of the 2009-10 season which has been well received in London, Cambridge and Norwich. The orchestra than went on a very successful tour of Mexico and Spain visiting Morelia, Mexico City and Madrid in late November.
Creative Learning continued their varied work engaging a range of audiences in music and the work of Britten Sinfonia. A highlight of the year was the Great Fen Project. Children from a school in Ramsey and teenagers from Yaxley were involved in creating an audible exhibition inspired by the sounds heard across the Fens. You can read more about it here.
The year began by continuing the 2007-08 season’s tours featuring Britten Sinfonia’sacclaimed musicians and guest artists. The orchestra performed in venues spanning the country and beyond, in Cambridge, Norwich, London, Birmingham, Aldeburgh, Leeds, Cockermouth, Southampton, Stevenage, Shrewsbury, Stamford, Bradford on Avon and internationally in Rome (Italy) and Krakow (Poland).
Guest artists included Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Mark Padmore, Carolyn Sampson, Masaaki Suzuki, Imogen Cooper, Joanna MacGregor, Maxim Rysanov, Katie Mitchell, Iestyn Davies and conductors Alec Roth, Diego Masson and Jurjen Hempel. In a truly unique production that attracted a great deal of press and attention, Britten Sinfonia joined the Michael Clark Company for the Stravinsky Project.
The fêted Britten Sinfonia at Lunch series featuring new works by Richard Causton, Helen Grime, Robin Holloway and Pawel Lukaszewski toured to London, Cambridge, Norwich, Birmingham and Krakow as well as being recorded live by BBC Radio 3. The series begins again in November 2008.
The summer saw Britten Sinfonia in many UK Festivals, including the 61st Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts, the 60th Bath International Music Festival, Salisbury International Festival, Chelsea Festival, Lichfield Festival and the Norfolk & Norwich Festival. Later in the year Britten Sinfonia will return to the London Jazz Festival to star in the opening night’s events alongside Dhafer Youssef and Joanna MacGregor.
Britten Sinfonia’s unique and innovative performances are to be captured on CD, produced by Britten Sinfonia’s own record label in conjunction with Signum, and launched early in 2009.
Creative Learning becomes an increasingly integral area of the ensemble’s work, reaching concert attenders through pre-concert talks and lectures, as well as schools, universites and businesses in workshops and specialist days with Britten Sinfonia musicians.
In a season highlight Britten Sinfonia joins Polyphony choir under the expert direction of Stephen Layton for Handel’s Messiah. This will be the orchestra’s second appearance with Polyphony in 2008.
The ‘Britten Sinfonia at Lunch’ tour continued to be recorded for broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and the tour expanded to include Krakow (Poland), Aldeburgh, Cambridge and Norwich. In this series and evening concerts, Britten Sinfonia continued its promotion of new music, featuring new works by Tansy Davies, Huw Watkins, Tarik O’Regan, Brett Dean, Pawel Lukaszewski and John Tavener.
Easter concerts with Polyphony were performed to sell out audiences in Norwich and Cambridge whilst later in the year Britten Sinfonia performed at the London Jazz Festival with Gil Evans directing a remarkable programme based around the works from the Gil Evans and Miles Davis partnership. Guest artists for the season included Imogen Cooper, Alina Ibragimova, Carolyn Sampson, Iestyn Davies, Allan Clayton, Andrew Foster-Williams and Pekka Kuusisto.
In May the orchestra was recognised for its myriad achievements by the Royal Philharmonic Society and awarded the Ensemble Award. This coincided with the orchestra touring to South America with Joanna MacGregor, visiting Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Montevideo. The programme featured works by Bach, Britten, Golijov and Gismonti amongst others and received a rapturous response from audiences. Players took the opportunity to meet the locals in Creative Learning projects. Cambridge University Press supported the trip. This year also saw performances in Poland and Portugal.
Our discography grew in number and acclaim with recordings of Hartmann’s Concerto Funébre with Alina Ibragimova, Bairstow’s Choral Music and Bruckner’s Mass in E minor and Motets. All were named Editor’s Choice in Gramophone magazine and received numerous glowing reviews
Lux Aeterna, our Hyperion recording of music by Morten Lauridsen, was nominated for a Grammy award.
Our highly successful series of Lunchtime concerts at West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge, was broadcast by BBC Radio 3 over four days from Tuesday 4 April.
Two past projects were revived in April and May: Art of Fugue (renamed Bach meets Moondog) toured to Dartington, Glasgow, Birmingham and Norwich, and our collaboration with Henri Oguike Dance Company played to a sold-out Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Britten Sinfonia is nominated in the Ensemble category in the 2005 Royal Philharmonic Society awards. The first of two recordings for Hyperion is released, featuring Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, inspiring rave reviews from both sides of the Atlantic.
Imogen Cooper made her debut with Britten Sinfonia, in performances of Mozart piano concerti.
The entire east end of Bury St Edmunds Cathedral was filled with a huge stage in May, for two performances of Tiger dancing, a collaboration between BS and the Henri Oguike Dance Company. It included new choreography to Tippett’s Concerto for Double String Orchestra, in the composer’s centenary year.
We launched our first ever lunchtime series, Britten Sinfonia at Lunch, at West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge. The series featured five stunning world premieres by John Woolrich, Jason Yarde, Tristan Rhys Williams, Kenneth Hesketh and Joseph Phibbs alongside other chamber works such as Stravinsky’s Octet and Purcell’s Fantasias.
Jacqueline Shave was appointed leader in September.
Nicholas Cleobury stands down as Artistic Director and takes the title Founder Laureate. For up-to-date news on what Nicholas is doing now, please see his website www.nicholascleobury.net
Britten Sinfonia’s Easter concerts with Polyphony and Stephen Layton in King’s College Chapel and Norwich Cathedral lead to recordings of the two main works in the programme: James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross and Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna. Both recordings are released next year on Hyperion.
Britten Sinfonia and The Hilliard Ensemble give the UK premiere of Piers Hellawell’s The Pear Tree of Nicostratus, along with other vocal and instrumental works on the theme of love and lust. The May tour visited Cambridge and the Salisbury and Chelsea Festivals.
Thomas Adès conducts Britten Sinfonia for the first time at the Aldeburgh Festival in June, in a programme including Harrison Birtwistle’s The Fields of Sorrow. The concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
Britten Sinfonia is invited to play at the distinguished Donauschingen Festival in Germany. The orchestra is invited to dine with the Royal family and to stay overnight in the castle!
The final BBC Proms chamber series from the V&A Museum in London is Britten Sinfonia premiering The Coroner’s Report by Simon Holt.
A major tour with Nitin Sawhney takes the ensemble to Brussels and around the UK in the autumn, including a debut at the Royal Festival Hall. The Telegraph comments “The Festival Hall was packed with an audience that whistled and cheered its approval. One felt there was a genuine meeting of minds between the orchestra and the musicians around it”.
Tour to Greece with Django Bates followed by a UK tour featuring music by American John Zorn set against cartoon inspired pieces by Janacek, John Adams and John Woolrich.
Following a national review of the chamber orchestra sector, Arts Council England announces 100% increase in Britten Sinfonia’s funding.
Britten Sinfonia nominated for two Royal Philharmonic Society awards: best large ensemble and best concert series (for its 2002/03 concert series in Cambridge and Norwich).
Performance at the prestigious George Enescu Festival in Bucharest follows concerts in Brussels and Brugge.
Celebrations for the orchestra’s 10th Anniversary begin with a national tour featuring Evelyn Glennie, including performances in Cambridge, Norwich and Chelmsford, cities all closely linked with the orchestra’s development. This is what the Times said in their preview of the tour:
“Britten Sinfonia, ten years old this autumn, is not only the East of England’s ‘house’ band. It is also one of a new breed of orchestras. They are unfettered by tradition, because they have none. They run risks because they have discovered that, contrary to decades of received music-business wisdom, it is risks that pull crowds. And they are truly post-modern in outlook. They mix and match their programmes with an outrageous glee that would horrify the venerable Philharmonics.”
Orchestra wins Anglia TV’s “Best Arts Event” for Light & Shade coinciding with a CD release of music from the tour for the Sound Circus label.
John Woolrich succeeds David Matthews as Composer in Association. Joanna MacGregor and Nicholas Daniel appointed Associate Artistic Directors.
Britten Sinfonia outgrows King’s Parade offices. Team of eight staff move to new offices in Sturton Street, Cambridge
Premiere of Parthenogenesis, a new work by James MacMillan, who conducts the performance featuring soprano Lisa Milne, baritone Christopher Purves and actor Anastasia Hille.
Debut at the Edinburgh International Festival, with further performances of Parthenogenesis and a portrait concert of music by Stuart MacRae.
Britten Sinfonia returns to the Proms with Ian Bostridge, this time performing Britten’s Nocturne, and also in the chamber Proms with Sam West narrating Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale.
Following success of Django Bates tour, Joanna MacGregor is invited to work with the orchestra. She directs a 10 date tour – Light and Shade - featuring music by Arvo Pärt, Lou Harrison, Schnittke and a new work from Nitin Sawhney. The tour is featured in a Joanna MacGregor South Bank Show profile for LWT.
Britten Sinfonia Community & Education organises major projects in Cambridge, Norwich, Chelmsford and Luton, including after school music clubs for young people – Inside Out - funded by the Foundation for Youth Music.
Jonathan Barclay, Senior Partner at Mills & Reeve, succeeds Charles Barrington as Chairman.
UK tour with Django Bates and his jazz group Human Chain. Django Bates writes a new work to celebrate the Millenium – 2000 Years beyond UNDO. Concerts also feature Joanna MacGregor peforming the Ligeti Piano Concerto.
Britten Sinfoina’s first tour to Germany includes performances at Munich’s Gasteig and Frankfurt’s Alte Oper.
Britten Sinfonia makes its BBC Proms debut, featuring a new symphony by David Matthews, Mozart’s ‘Prague’ Symphony and Ian Bostridge performing Britten’s Les Illuminations.
Landmark concert series Frank Zappa and the Fathers of Invention, setting Zappa’s music against Bach, Stravinsky, Varese, Ives and Steve Reich. Sell-out performances given “in the round” in the Cambridge Corn Exchange attract a wide audience, with 80% attending their first “classical” music concert. This initiative is followed up later in the year with trumpeter Guy Barker performing music from the Gil Evans/Miles Davies albums, set alongside Stravinsky and ‘big band’ arrangements of Dunstable and Gesualdo.
Launch of a new concert series in Norwich in partnership with the Norfolk & Norwich Festival. Nicholas Daniel conducts the first concert, an all-Mozart programme.
David Matthews appointed as Britten Sinfonia’s first Composer in Association. His first work, Burnham Wick, given in Birmingham for BBC Radio 3.
Britten Sinfonia awarded £150,000 from the Arts Council’s Arts for Everyone scheme for the development of its work in the East of England.
First of several discs for Classic FM’s new label are made, featuring Britten Sinfonia musicians. Nicholas Daniel, Joy Farrall and Kate Hill record Mozart’s oboe, clarinet and flute concerti respectively.
“The finest performances from British soloists I’ve heard in a decade” Norman Lebrecht, Daily Telegraph
Orchestra works with tenor Ian Bostridge for the first time, with a young Daniel Harding conducting. This successful collaboration leads to other concerts and an EMI recording of Britten repertoire including Our Hunting Fathers.
Germaine Greer joins Britten Sinfonia’s board. Administrative staff increases to 5 people, requiring a move to new offices on King’s Parade, Cambridge.
Britten Sinfonia’s debut CD is released to critical acclaim, featuring David Pyatt in the Strauss Horn Concertos and the Duet-concertino and Serenade for Wind Op.7. It wins a Gramophone Award.
Debut at the South Bank Centre brings further critical acclaim.
“This is undoubtedly an orchestra of which we are going to hear a lot more” The Independent
“A major force not only in East Anglia, but in the musical life of the nation” The Times
The number of concerts increases from 12 in 1993 to 27 in 1994, including the orchestra’s first foreign tour, a residency at the Wratislava Cantans Festival in Poland. Televised concerts include works by Tippett (Symphony No.1 and A Child of Our Time) and Panufnik (Universal Prayer). Chelmsford appoint Britten Sinfonia ‘Orchestra in Residence’.
Michael Tippett’s A Child of our Time
Britten Sinfonia celebrates the 50th anniversary of Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time in London’s Adelphi Theatre where it was premièred in the presence of the composer.
Britten Sinfonia’s part in Jonathan Miller’s production of Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos provides the orchestra’s first critical success.
Following a grant from the Foundation for Sport and the Arts, Britten Sinfonia appoints its first Education Manager to foster a community and outreach programme alongside its concerts.
Britten Sinfonia launches following an initiative from Eastern Arts and a number of key figures including Nicholas Cleobury, who recognise the need for a world class orchestra in the East of England. Britten Sinfonia reflects Benjamin Britten’s artistic vision: a commitment to early music as well as new music, to music education and music performance of the highest quality, a commitment to the East of England and an ambassadorial role on the world stage.
Nicholas Cleobury becomes Artistic Director, and the first concert took place in Chelmsford featuring a mixed programme of works by Bach, Copland, Stravinsky and Colin Matthews, illustrating the new ensemble’s commitment to a broad range of entertaining repertoire.
The artistic vision of Britten Sinfonia is built around the extraordinary skills and development of its players – all chamber musicians and soloists of the highest quality. Britten Sinfonia invites international artists from across right the musical spectrum to work with them on projects suited to the particular skills of each visiting artist. More recently the orchestra has developed close associations with certain artists who they consult and work with regularly.
For more information on the artists featured in recent and forthcoming projects follow the links below:
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
Choir of Jesus College, Cambridge
Peter Maxwell Davies
Meet the Trustees
Stephen Bourne, Chairman
Chapter Clerk and Administrator of Ely Cathedral, and formerly President of Cambridge University Press. Stephen is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, a chartered accountant and a fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge.
Dame Mary Archer, DBE
Mary taught chemistry in the University of Cambridge for 10 years before developing a wider portfolio of interests. She was chairman of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for ten years until November 2012, and was appointed DBE in summer 2012 for services to the NHS.
Dr. Jerome Booth
Jerome is an economist and co-founder of the emerging markets fund manager Ashmore Group Plc. As well as a portfolio of business interests he is also Chairman of the Fitzwilliam Museum Development Trust, a member of the governing board of Anglia Ruskin University and a Council Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society.
Margaret read Law at St Anne’s College, Oxford, qualified as a barrister and spent most of her career in the Government Legal Service. Margaret moved to Cambridge in 2001. She is Chairman of the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge and was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire in 2012.
Dr. Andy Harter
Founder and CEO of technology company RealVNC, Andy is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of St Edmund’s College Cambridge. In 2011 he was named Cambridge Businessman of the Year. He is a Fellow of the London College of Music.
Hamish is President - Europe at Capital Group Companies Global, part of investment management firm Capital Group. In 2011 he was appointed a Fellow of Eton College and is also a board member of Glyndebourne Productions Ltd and Grange Park Opera.
Freelance journalist, author, public speaker, and consultant, Bill is a well-known technology critic and commentator on digital culture. A graduate of Cambridge University and former Guardian journalist, he is Head of Partnership Development in the Archive Development group at the BBC and a board member for the Writers’ Centre Norwich.
Dr Nigel W Brown OBE
Charles Rawlinson MBE
Prof John Rink
Stephen Smith OBE
John Stephens OBE
Prof Michael Thorne
Sir John Tusa
Meet the Staff
To contact a member of our staff please either telephone +44 (0)1223 300795, email email@example.com or send a direct email using the following format: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are currently no opportunities within the orchestra
Britten Sinfonia is currently seeking a Development Director, who can help ensure the organisation thrives into the future. We’re looking for someone with a wide range of fundraising skills, experience of meeting challenging financial targets, and first-rate people and leadership skills.
Equal opportunities monitoring form
Closing date: 5pm, Friday 20th March 2015
If you have any questions or would like an exploratory confidential conversation about the role please email David Butcher, Chief Executive
If you are interested in volunteering or stewarding at our events please email email@example.com.
What is Britten Sinfonia?
Britten Sinfonia is a flexible ensemble composed of the finest chamber musicians in Europe. Our players are freelance musicians who are employed on a project-by-project basis. Britten Sinfonia performs around 70 concerts per year and works with hundreds of people of all ages in the communities where the orchestra is resident.
How is it managed?
Britten Sinfonia is a limited company and a registered charity. A board of directors oversees the company which is run by a management team of 13 people, led by the Chief Executive. The offices are based in Cambridge.
How is Britten Sinfonia funded?
Britten Sinfonia is supported by a wide variety of public, corporate and private sources, through a complex mix of grants, sponsorship, and individual giving. Current turnover is £1.5 million - 49% is earned income, 28% from Arts Council England and 23% from fundraised income.
How can I support Britten Sinfonia?
We currently run a variety of individual giving schemes - click here to find out more. There are also many ways that companies and funders can become involved in our work. Please email Will Harriss or call 01223 300795 for an informal chat.
What happens to the £25 I spend on a concert ticket?
£5 goes straight to the government as VAT. We are a not-for-profit organisation so all the income we make from ticket sales, programmes and sponsorship is spent on hall hire, artists and marketing expenses.
Why doesn’t Britten Sinfonia have an Artistic Director?
Because of the breadth of repertoire we perform and wide range of types of projects we undertake, we prefer to work with different soloists, conductors and composers, who are specialists in particular fields. These projects are curated by the Chief Executive and an artistic team. This gives us more flexibility and freedom to develop new ideas, all centred around the quality and development of our players.
Are the players employed full-time?
No. Almost all chamber orchestras in the UK employ freelance musicians on a project-by-project basis. This allows us to be versatile with size and orchestration. You will usually see the same players at most concerts, however.
What is ‘In conversation’?
‘In conversation’ talks are pre-concert events which are free to concert ticket-holders. A featured soloist, composer or member of the orchestra talks about the concert and answers questions from the audience. You don’t have to have any musical knowledge to appreciate these informative and often very entertaining events.
There are few more thrilling things in British music than Britten Sinfonia on top form.
Ivan Hewett, The Daily Telegraph
Britten Sinfonia is one of the world’s most celebrated and pioneering ensembles. The orchestra is acclaimed for its virtuoso musicianship, an inspired approach to concert programming which makes bold, intelligent connections across 400 years of repertoire, and a versatility that is second to none. Britten Sinfonia breaks the mould by not having a principal conductor or director, instead choosing to collaborate with a range of the finest international guest artists from across the musical spectrum, resulting in performances of rare insight and energy.
Britten Sinfonia is an Associate Ensemble at the Barbican in London, and has residencies across the east of England in Norwich, Brighton and Cambridge (where it is the University’s orchestra-in-association). The orchestra also performs a chamber music series at Wigmore Hall and appears regularly at major UK festivals including Aldeburgh and the BBC Proms. The orchestra’s growing international profile includes regular touring to Mexico, South America and Europe. In February 2012, Britten Sinfonia made its North American debut at Lincoln Centre, New York.
Founded in 1992, the orchestra 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. Britten Sinfonia is a BBC Radio 3 broadcast partner and regularly records for Harmonia Mundi and Hyperion.
In 2013-14, Britten Sinfonia collaborates with artists including Paul Lewis, Ian Bostridge, Netia Jones, Mark Padmore, Pekka Kuusisto, Iestyn Davies, Patricia Kopatchinskaja and the Richard Alston Dance Company with premières from composers including Sally Beamish, Roderick Williams, Mark Simpson, Brett Dean and Philip Cashian. Following UK performances, many of these collaborations will tour internationally with performances in some of the world’s finest concert halls.
Central to Britten Sinfonia’s artistic programmes are a wide range of creative learning projects both within schools and the community. In the 2013-14 season Britten Sinfonia Academy, our talented youth ensemble will perform its own At Lunch concert and we hold our second composition competition, OPUS2014, offering unpublished composers the chance to receive a professional commission,
In 2013 Britten Sinfonia was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for Ensemble having previously won the Chamber Music Award in 2009 and the Ensemble Award in 2007. Britten Sinfonia recordings have been Grammy nominated, received a Gramophone Award and an ECHO/Klassik Recording Award.
Cambridge and London
03 - 05 April 2015
Easter performances of James MacMillan's St Luke Passion.
James MacMillan's St Luke Passion
King's College Chapel, Cambridge
03 April 2015 7:30pm
Easter performances of James MacMillan's St Luke Passion.
James MacMillan's St Luke Passion
Barbican Hall, London
05 April 2015 6:00pm
Easter performances of James MacMillan's St Luke Passion.