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Britten Sinfonia bring jazz and world premieres to Norwich lunch hour concerts

PUBLISHED: 17:22 22 November 2017

Britten Sinfonia begins the new At Lunch season this week. Photo: Submitted

Britten Sinfonia begins the new At Lunch season this week. Photo: Submitted

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Britten Sinfonia's At Lunch series brings world class musicians performing premieres by internationally recognised composers to Norwich, all in your lunch hour. The new season begins this week with a jazz groove.

Swiss jazz composer, producer and pianist Nik B�rtsch. Photo: Christian SentiSwiss jazz composer, producer and pianist Nik B�rtsch. Photo: Christian Senti

How often can you spend your lunch hour listening of the UK’s finest chamber musicians premiering new works in intimate surroundings?

In Norwich we are lucky enough for this to be a reality. Britten Sinfonia’s award-winning ‘At Lunch’ series launches its new season this week with a programme led and curated by Swiss leading jazz composer, producer and pianist Nik Bärtsch.

Britten Sinfonia has just celebrated its 25th anniversary, during which time heard by over half a million people in 25 countries across four continents and commissioned over 300 new works.

The ‘At Lunch’ series, now in its 12th season, has become a much-loved and important part of the orchestra’s work with four lunch-time concerts every year in Cambridge and London’s Wigmore Hall, as well as in Norwich.

Britten Sinfonia At Lunch series brings four concerts to Norwich. Photo: SubmittedBritten Sinfonia At Lunch series brings four concerts to Norwich. Photo: Submitted

For its 2017/18 season the orchestra has commissioned new works from five distinctive composers from both sides of the Atlantic to write new works for the series, and for the first time, jazz and electronics feature on the lunchtime menu.

For this week’s opening concert Bärtsch sets his own latest work 9_3_7, commissioned by Britten Sinfonia in partnership with the EFG London Jazz Festival, alongside pieces by two emerging New York-based composers Sarah Kirkland Snider and Judd Greenstein.

“For this programme Britten Sinfonia and I have chosen pieces for an instrumental line-up that represents a touch of classical chamber music and indie groove music, from pop to minimal and jazz,” said Bärtsch.

“The pieces Pale As Centuries by Sarah Kirkland Snider and City Boy by Judd Greenstein were originally written for the NOW Ensemble from Brooklyn, New York, an ensemble which combines influences of classical chamber music and independent pop music.

Britten Sinfonia principal Jacqueline Shave. Photo: Alex BeerBritten Sinfonia principal Jacqueline Shave. Photo: Alex Beer

“My piece 9_3_7 is inspired by odd metre and overlapping patterns as rhythmical structure which Judd Greenstein used in his piece City Boy. Like this, 9_3_7 works with spins and mechanisms of minimal groove music.”

The programme also includes Deep Green, a new commission for flute, clarinet and double-bass by Mark Bowler, the winner of OPUS2017, Britten Sinfonia’s popular competition for unpublished composers.

Bowler has written for orchestra, chamber groups and vocal ensembles and is a founding member of folk collective Tribe of Tinkers. The Ligeti Quartet recently recorded his Quartet for Strings, a four-movement work that explores folk traditions of the British Isles and Eastern Europe.

He said: “I am thankful to have won this opportunity to work with Nik Bärtsch and the musicians of Britten Sinfonia. Having my initial ideas realised during workshops was a rewarding experience and I am looking forward, with the benefit of Nik’s guidance, to sharing the finished piece during the November concert series.”

The At Lunch series continues in Norwich with a second concert on January 26 with a new work from Leo Chadburn scored for electronics and string trio and set to be performed by a line-up featuring Britten Sinfonia principals Jacqueline Shave (violin), Caroline Dearnley (cello) and Huw Watkins (piano).

Chadburn’s new work features alongside music spanning 350 years: Biber’s Anunciation Sonata, Mozart’s Piano Trio in B flat, Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel and Philip Glass’s Orbit.

American composer Caroline Shaw, the youngest ever winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013, is a solo violinist, chamber musician, vocalist in the Grammy Award-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth, and has collaborated with superstar rapper Kanye West. A new work by her will be will be premiered in the third At Lunch concert on April 20, alongside Brahms’ expansive Piano Quartet No. 1.

The season finale on July 12 will once again feature the young players of the Britten Sinfonia Academy performing a new work they have worked to write with composer Tom Coult, whose St John’s Dance, a musical reflection on mass hysteria, opened this year’s BBC Proms.

Britten Sinfonia principal Thomas Gould. Photo: Alex BeerBritten Sinfonia principal Thomas Gould. Photo: Alex Beer

All concerts start at 1pm, last an hour and serve up a musical feast without breaking the bank. What better way to spend your lunch break?

David Butcher, Britten Sinfonia chief executive, said: “Our Principals, led by joint Leaders Thomas Gould and Jacqueline Shave, are amongst the country’s finest chamber musicians, and the lunchtime series offers a chance to hear them in more intimate repertoire. Expect to hear music making of the highest order and some surprising juxtapositions.”

• Britten Sinfonia: At Lunch, St Andrews Hall, Norwich, November 24, 1pm, £9, £3 student/under-26s, 01603 630000, brittensinfonia.com

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