Britten Sinfonia has a new CEO and Artistic Director Meurig Bowen

Introducing Meurig Bowen

Meurig Bowen joined Britten Sinfonia last month from BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales as the new Chief Executive & Artistic Director.

Find out a little more about Meurig below in this exclusive Q&A. 

WHERE HAS YOUR WORK TAKEN YOU BEFORE BRITTEN SINFONIA?
Over three decades, I’ve been really fortunate to work in a range of music management roles. First of all, there were six-year stints with The Hilliard Ensemble in London and the Australian Chamber Orchestra in Sydney. I directed the Lichfield Festival for four years and the Cheltenham Music Festival for a decade, and in between I was Head of Programming at the Aldeburgh Festival/Snape Maltings. Most recently, I’ve been Head of Artistic Planning for BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales. Being close to all that hugely varied and classy music-making has been an enormous privilege.

DID THE INTEREST IN MUSIC COME FROM HOME OR ELSEWHERE?
My father was a concert and opera singer, and so music was a big part of my life from early on – it’s likely that I attended more Messiahs, Verdi Requiems and Gerontiuses than any other under-18 on the planet (and the cool-gang would say this is nothing to be proud of). I was a chorister in my local, North London parish church choir, and that set me up for getting a choral scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge, where I studied music. I am also a long-lapsed viola player. The high points were playing Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra with the London Schools Symphony Orchestra – conducted by the composer, no less – and hacking my way through Brandenburg 6 with fellow King’s string players in the college chapel.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN YOUR NEW ROLE?
Just as David Butcher did so brilliantly himself for so long, I aim to be an enabler for the musicians – to deliver for them the performing opportunities, and the audiences, so that they can be as fulfilled and inspiring as possible. That means keeping the programming as fresh as it’s always been, and striving to maximise the musicians’ contact points in the community. The social and geographical reach of Britten Sinfonia will be as important going forwards as its undoubted artistic range and quality.

WHAT ABOUT COVID AND ITS EFFECT ON MUSIC AND MUSICIANS?
Obviously, this six-month shutdown of music-making has been devastating – for the livelihoods of musicians as much as their sense of being and purpose. So many have missed the enriching effect that live, communal music-making can have. Lockdown montage videos online have been ingenious, but they were a means to an end, and we need to rebuild urgently the artist-audience bond of live performance. COVID presents us with great challenges going forward, but the need to create new live performance formats that are COVID-compliant is a great opportunity for resourceful and imaginative thinking. Watch this space…

WHICH COMPOSERS OF THE PAST ARE YOU MOST DRAWN TO?
I don’t know whether there’s a thread running through the following but here goes: Bach, Schubert’s songs and chamber music, Verdi and Puccini operas, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, Ravel, some Stravinsky and Shostakovich, a lot of 20th century British music. There are some very fine tunesmiths amongst those I guess, and little of it is overly cerebral. But in listing those, some of my most-loved music gets sidelined: Mozart concertos, Beethoven’s Eroica symphony, Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, Strauss’s Metamorphosen…it’s so tough to narrow down! And I’m also drawn to the lives and music of a couple of musical oddballs, the eccentric visionaries Percy Grainger and Erik Satie.

AND THE LIVING ONES?
I was very fortunate to get to know Arvo Pärt when working for The Hilliard Ensemble. The best of his pieces really affect me (Tabula Rasa above all others), and so I’d rank him and Steve Reich as the two elderly greats of our time. Having said that, Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus last year at ENO was mind-blowingly good, and the most recent new orchestral piece I heard that really made an impression was Anders Hillborg’s startling Through Lost Landscapes. I try to keep my ears open at all times.

WHAT ELSE, APART FROM MUSIC, FILLS YOUR LIFE?
If the COVID lockdown has delivered any positives, it’s been bonus time with my wife and daughter. That’s been very precious.

But generally…getting out into the UK’s more dramatic landscapes, travelling further afield when time allows, getting better in the kitchen, aiming for a balanced and nutritious diet of books (fiction mainly), TV and film.

And then there’s the sport. Cricket still captivates me, even if it has to be mainly via TV highlights and Test Match Special (I refuse to sign up to Sky). Rugby interests me less and less – it’s too calculating now, too pumped up. I used to play tennis, and still hope to do so again, and I manage to play golf a few times a year. The last time I played cricket was in a match I organised with David Butcher no less – Aldeburgh versus Britten Sinfonia. Each side enlisted some visiting Tibetan monks in Snape to make up the numbers. True…

MEURIG BOWEN has been appointed Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Britten Sinfonia, succeeding David Butcher.

Dr Jerome Booth, Chairman of Britten Sinfonia’s Board of Trustees comments:

“Britten Sinfonia has always been fearless in its approach to music making and Meurig shares our sense of energy and inquiry. He is an experienced and adventurous programmer and a passionate advocate for reaching wider audiences with music of the highest quality and ambition. The match between his dynamic approach and one of the world’s finest chamber orchestras is an enticing one and we look forward to welcoming him this summer.’’

Meurig Bowen comments:

“I’ve been a long-time admirer of Britten Sinfonia’s distinctive musicianship and the vitality and sheer excellence of its music making. It’s therefore a great joy to be able to follow in David Butcher’s footsteps and to work with Britten Sinfonia’s virtuoso musicians, highly committed staff and board to help shape an invigorating future for one of the world’s finest chamber orchestras.”

Meurig succeeds David Butcher, who has left Britten Sinfonia to take up the post of Chief Executive of Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra from September 2020.

Britten Sinfonia: The Last Letter at St Andrew’s Hall, Thursday 8 November 2018, 7.30pm

BS

 

 

 

 

 

Britten Sinfonia with

Jonathan McGovern – baritone
Thomas Gould – violin/director

To commemorate the end of the Great War, Britten Sinfonia premiere a new arrangement of Nico Muhly’s poignant The Last Letter as part of a compelling and dramatic evening of music and words.

Programme:

Gurney : The Western Playland
Kelly : Elegy
Ravel : Le tombeau de Couperin
Stephan : Nachspiel
Nico Muhly : The Last Letter (world premiere of orchestral version)
Barber :Adagio for strings
Poetry and letters by Mary Borden, Vera Brittain, Ivor Gurney and Wilfred Owen.

Devised by Dr Kate Kennedy, with a pre-concert talk from Dr Kennedy at 6.30pm, discussing the programme of the concert (free to ticket holders).

Tickets from Theatre Royal Box Office

Prices

Adult: £10 – £32
Student: £6
Jobseeker: £6
Under 26: £6

Music in Norwich this week 4-8 November

Saturday 4 November 2017, 7.30pm
St Andrew’s Hall,
St Andrew’s Plain, Norwich

Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra
Norwich Philharmonic Chorus

Deborah Miles-Johnson mezzo soprano
Matthew Andrews, David Dunnett conductors

Sibelius Symphony No. 1 in E minor
Holst The Cloud Messenger

 

Wednesday 8 November 2017, 7.30pm
St Andrew’s Hall, St Andrew’s Plain, Norwich

Britten Sinfonia

Sir-Mark-Elder-2-Groves-Artists

Elder conducts Brahms

Finzi The Fall of the Leaf
Mahler arr. Britten What the Wild Flowers tell me
Mahler Rückert-Lieder
Brahms Symphony No. 1

Sir Mark Elder conductor
Elisabeth Kulman mezzo-soprano

Brahms’s First Symphony was first performed with considerably smaller musical forces than we are used to hearing today. Sir Mark Elder conducts Britten Sinfonia in a performance that returns to the spirit of those early concerts and allows the details of Brahms’s extraordinary lyrical masterpiece to shine through.

Pre-concert talk, 6.30pm
Sir Mark Elder discusses tonight’s programme
(free to ticket holders)
Tickets: £8-£34 (£6 students, under 26 and job seekers).

Britten Sinfonia Academy Open Rehearsal Saturday 14 October 4-5pm

Britten Sinfonia Academy is a great opportunity for young musicians, like a Saturday school. They are offering a chance to see how it all works and talk to people who are already involved next Saturday at Theatre Royal Norwich. They are holding an open rehearsal next week for anyone who would like to find out more about us or may be considering joining the orchestra. It is free to attend but seats must be booked through the website, please let your friends know, or any parents or teenage musicians you may be in contact with https://www.brittensinfonia.com/event/1167622/
#musicinnorwich

image002

 

Friday 26 May 2017, 7.30pm St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich Adès conducts Beethoven

Friday 26 May 2017, 7.30pm
St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich

Britten Sinfonia
Adès conducts Beethoven

In this concert the enthralling composer and conductor Thomas Adès will shed new light on Beethoven’s witty first symphony, which is here paired with the virtuosic second. These are complemented by Gerald Barry’s powerful setting of Beethoven’s letter to his ‘immortal beloved’.

“Adès makes you hear things which you thought were familiar as if they were completely new.

This performance is part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2017.

Tickets £8-£30; £6 (under 18s and students):
Web: http://www.brittensinfonia.com
Phone: 01603 630000
In person: Norwich Theatre Royal Box Office

Coming up at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 12-28 May

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival runs from Friday 12-Sunday 28 May this year and has a packed classical music and jazz programme as well as some great contemporary and popular music, from the traditional to the ‘right out there’. It’s an exciting time and this is a real chance to try something new. Here are a couple of videos that the Festival has produced to showcase what is coming up which gives you a good idea of what is coming up and who is doing the programming. This is the swan-song Festival for artistic director William Galinsky who is moving on to develop his own work so he has put a lot of energy into the programme this year.

It is worth booking ahead as some things sell out quickly but then, even if something is sold out, it is worth checking back for returns – I just managed to book some Philip Glass tickets as a few became available this week. Theatre Royal Norwich manages all the bookings on 01603 630000 or via www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk.

One of the highlights this year is a production by Norwich’s very own Voice Project producers Sian Croose and Jon Baker called In The Arms of Sleep – it’s a classical music/choral sleepover in the Assembly House in Norwich which offers 40 audience members the chance to take a bed, make themselves comfy and fall asleep listening to a 10 hour choral performance, voices permeating their slumbers and waking them with a chorus. Some people might find the idea of sleeping with 39 strangers a bit daunting but it will be an experience – when will you get the chance to do something like this again?

Classical music programmed by Britten Sinfonia


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/215855029″>NNF17 – Classical Music</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/nnfest”>Norfolk &amp; Norwich Festival</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Contemporary music programmed by Serious

 

St John Passion Britten Sinfonia at St Andrew’s Hall Norwich 13 April 2017

 

PADMORE 3

Celebrated tenor, Mark Padmore performs St John Passion with Britten Sinfonia at Norwich’s St Andrew’s Hall on Thursday 13 April 2017

Mark has gained particular acclaim for his numerous appearances as Evangelist in Bach Passions. He describes Bach’s music as ‘an endless journey of discovery’, and he’ll certainly bring this love for the music and sense of dramatic intention to these Easter performance in which he sings with and directs Britten Sinfonia. Bach’s masterpiece perfectly balances the theatrical and devotional, and is interspersed here with sacred texts, and poetry by TS Eliot read by Simon Russell Beale.

Explore the music:

Find out more about Mark Padmore in our Q&A with him.

Download the programme notes.

Read Mark Padmore’s article in The Guardian and find out why he thinks St John Passion belongs on the stage at Easter. 

Norwich Pre-concert Talk, 6.30pm: Jonathan Morley, Programme Director at Writers’ Centre Norwich leads a talk on TS Eliot’s poetry.

New edition of Music in Norwich is out!

Please to say that the newest edition of Music in Norwich is now out on the streets in hard copy and is available to pick up free from the Tourist Information Centre, Theatre Royal, St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich Cathedral, Arts Roundup racks and many other place around Norwich and Norfolk as well as a pdf download from this siteMusic in Norwich spring 17.jpg