Britten Sinfonia tune up for new season

Simon ParkinAfter establishing a permanent home at the Theatre Royal, the award-winning Britten Sinfonia are tuning up for their second season, including an opening concert featuring Vivaldi's Four Seasons. SIMON PARKIN reports.Simon Parkin

After successfully establishing a permanent Norwich home at the Theatre Royal, the award-winning Britten Sinfonia are tuning up for their second season, including an opening concert featuring Vivaldi's ever popular Four Seasons. SIMON PARKIN reports.

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Last year the highly acclaimed Britten Sinfonia launched its inaugural season in its now permanent Norwich home at the Theatre Royal, to add to similar residencies in Cambridge, Birmingham and Krakow, as well as major concert series at London's Southbank Centre and Wigmore Hall.

Recognised as one of Europe's finest and most innovative orchestras, the Sinfonia had always enjoyed huge success whenever it visited the city, but a permanent home and regular season programme would, it was hoped, help it to build more than an ad hoc relationship.

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And so it has so far proved after the first season proved a great success, bringing some prestigious international classical talent, like Russian violinist Alina Ibragimova, to the Theatre Royal stage.

The orchestra's second season begins this Sunday with Eight Seasons, a concert that brings the Sinfonia's virtuoso string soloists to the fore. The programme is both crowd pleasing and intriguing, including Vivaldi's ever popular Four Seasons heard in a new light, interspersed with Argentinean composer Astor Paizzolla bold new reflection on Vivaldi's work. Piazzolla has created a Four Seasons of tango bars and late night jazz clubs that is passionate and thrilling.

The programme also includes includes Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G and Last Round by Osvaldo Golijov.

'It's an extraordinary mix of musical styles from Baroque to tango with Vivaldi's classic, alongside Astor Piazzolla's the Four Seasons of Buenos Aires,' said Sinfonia chief executive David Butcher.

'Even though these works are separated by over 250-years and the odd continent, they are fascinating, and, we hope, entertaining, to hear intertwined together.

'Piazzolla's love of Vivaldi is self-evident as is Osvaldo Golijov's Last Roundwritten in celebration of Piazzolla. It will all adds up to a feast of virtuosic music for strings, the perfect showcase for our celebrated string section and violin soloists from within the orchestra.'

The 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.

The violin soloists at Sunday's concert will include Sinfonia director Jacqueline Shave, Miranda Dale, Thomas Gould and Beatrix Lovejoy.

The orchestra enjoys a blossoming international profile, a recent highlight being an acclaimed tour of South America, with further tours planed in the United States, Canada and a return to South America during the 2010/11 season.

It 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, Glyndebourne and London's Barbican Centre.

'This new season promises to be our busiest by far with music from Machaut to Muhly, a vast array of exciting musical collaborations, and performances across the globe,' said David Butcher.

The Norwich season continues On November 6 with Dialogues, which after a successful collaboration at last year's Aldburgh Festival will see the Sinfonia once again team up with pianist/conductor Pierre-Laurent Aimand for a programme of Mozart, Hayden and Elliot Carter.

Music from both Britain and America, including Purcell, Steve Reich and John Adams, will feature in Britten in America on February 12, which will see tenor mark Padmore paired with imaginative violinist Pekka Kuusisto

The season will conclude with Passion and Resurrection on April 9, which after last year's sell-out Messiah will see Polyphony once again join the Sinfonia for Esenvald's powerful yet subtle work.

t Britten Sinfonia Eight Seasons, Theatre Royal, October 18, �25-�6, 01603 630000,


t Where were you born?

Ilford, Essex.

t When did you start playing violin?

Aged eight.

t What music have you listened to today?

Toscanini conducting the Meistersingers of Nuremberg [Wagner]. Who or what inspires you musically? Beethoven, David Bowie, Kuljit Bhamra, Norbert Brainin, Daniel Baremboim.

t What's your favourite venue to play?

Hollywell Rooms Oxford. Divine sound. Not too big. Where is the strangest place you've ever performed? Boxing ring in East London.

t What's your favourite city and why?

Rome. Layers of history all over the place ... combination of beauty and power. Totally awesome.

t What piece of music can you not live without?

Can't choose between Beethoven Op. 131 String Quartet in C sharp minor.

t What are your favourite non-musical hobbies?

Exploring the Hebrides, designing Moroccan houses, photography, painting. What are you currently reading? The Silver Darlingsby Neil Gunn. If you had a super power what would it be? Definitely flying.