Britten in America
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In celebration of the 2013 Britten centenary, Londinium chamber choir directed by Andrew Griffiths, with mezzo Carris Jones, presents a concert of unaccompanied choral music entitled 'Britten in America'. It explores the composer's major choral pieces from his formative years living in America (1939-42) alongside choral music by his American counterparts and influences, much of it written around the same time.
The focal points of the concert are Britten's two outstanding choral works from this period: 'A.M.D.G.' (1939 – a rarely performed collection of seven virtuosic settings of poems by Gerald Manley Hopkins, withdrawn by the composer and never performed in his lifetime), and 'Hymn to St Cecilia', a setting of a poem written for Britten in 1940 by WH Auden, then also in America. Britten's music is performed alongside Copland's first major choral work, 'In the Beginning' (1947), a piece which Britten encouraged Copland to write; Samuel Barber's 'God's Grandeur' from 1938, another setting of Gerald Manley Hopkins; and Randall Thompson's 'Alleluia' (1940), described by the composer as an 'introspective fanfare' influenced by the outbreak of war in Europe. The concert opens with a much earlier work: a remarkably modern setting from 1898 of Psalm 67 ('God be merciful unto us') by seminal twentieth-century American composer Charles Ives.