If you think classical music is dead, go hear the Britten Sinfonia and see a healthy body bursting with vitality. This band seems to have its finger on the pulse without resorting to any trendy gimmicks. David Nice, writer/broadcaster A classical chamber orchestra on the opening night of the London Jazz Festival with a Tunisian oud player? Purists on every side must have been steaming from all orifices. But this is the future of music. And it works, as this exhilarating fusion showed. Richard Morrison, The Times One of Europe’s most celebrated and innovative chamber orchestras, Britten Sinfonia is praised for the quality of its performances and an intelligent approach to concert programming that is centred around the development of its players. Unusually it does not have a principal conductor or director but chooses to collaborate with a range of the finest international guest artists from across the musical spectrum as suited to each particular project.
Recent seasons have included projects with Thomas Adès, James MacMillan, Joanna MacGregor, Masaaki Suzuki, Alina Ibragimova, Dhafer Youssef, Paul Lewis, Nitin Sawney and the Michael Clark Company. In 2009/10 guest artists and collaborators include Christopher Hogwood, Efterklang, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Nico Muhly, Katie Mitchell, Mark Padmore, Pekka Kuusisto, Imogen Cooper, Stephen Layton and Polyphony.
Britten Sinfonia has residencies in Cambridge, Norwich, Birmingham and Krakow with a major concert series at London’s Southbank Centre and the Wigmore Hall. The orchestra also performs in many of Europe’s finest concert halls and festivals including invitations this season to the BBC Proms, Latitude, the City of London festival and venues such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Madrid’s Auditorio Nacional and London’s Barbican Centre. The group enjoys a blossoming international profile, a recent highlight being an acclaimed tour of South America. Later this year, Britten Sinfonia is touring to the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Mexico, with further tours planed in the United States, Canada and a return to South America during the 2010/11 season. Britten Sinfonia is frequently heard on disc on BBC Radio 3 and commercial radio. In Spring 2009 Songs of the Sky was released, the first on Britten Sinfonia’s Own Label in a partnership with Signum Classics. Future releases include a recording of Hindemith’s music (June 2009) and Folk Songs, a disc featuring Berio’s Folk Song Suite plus works by Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Janacek (September 2009). The orchestra has received many awards including a Gramophone Award, the 2008 Arts and Business International Award and in 2007 won the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Ensemble Award in recognition of its work.