CCM’s Britten Centenary Celebration Culminates with Birthday Concert on Nov. 22

Britten rehearsing 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' Op. 64, in Jubilee Hall in 1960. Image courtesy of www.britten100.org

Britten rehearsing ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ Op. 64, in Jubilee Hall in 1960. Image courtesy of http://www.britten100.org

CCM commemorates the 100th anniversary of the birth of composer, conductor and pianist Benjamin Britten with a celebratory concert on Friday, Nov. 22.

Under the baton of Mark Gibson, Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Studies, the CCM Philharmonia will present Britten’s orchestral showpiece The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, narrated by special guest Santa J. Ono, President of the University of Cincinnati.

One of Britten’s best-known pieces, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34 (1946), is a musical composition that was originally commissioned for an educational  documentary film called Instruments of the Orchestra, directed by Muir Mathieson and featuring the London Symphony. It is one of the three popularly used scores in children’s music education, along with Saint Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.

Audience members may recognize this showpiece from the 2012 Wes Anderson film Moonrise Kingdom. Music drawn from Britten’s opera for children, Noye’s Fludde, and his Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, played an integral role in the movie’s conception and can be heard throughout the film. Watch Anderson discuss Britten’s influence here.

The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is not only one of Britten’s most played pieces but — in its original, 1940s film version — was a highly significant attempt to use the media of the day to introduce children to classical music. View a newly animated version of the showpiece below:

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The evening will also feature Britten’s Violin Concerto, Op. 15 (1939), a highly original piece that foreshadows the composer’s work on the famed opera Peter Grimes (1945).

In addition, the program includes Sir Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations, the work that brought him to national prominence upon its production by Hans Richter at St. James’ Hall, London, in June of 1899. Like Britten, Elgar holds a place at the helm of his respective generation of British composers.

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