Patron Saint of Music Day

Stewart Campbell, University of Sheffield concerts manager
Stewart Campbell, University of Sheffield concerts manager
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November 22 marks the 100th birthday of composer Benjamin Britten but is also St Celia’s Day - commemorating the Patron Saint of Music.

Friday’s events will start with tenor Stewart Campbell (pictured), Concerts Manager of the University of Sheffield and the brains behind the year-long Benjamin Britten festival, performing a Britten recital at the Graves Gallery at ipm.

It marks the completion of his journey through Britten’s five canticles with Canticle V – The Death of St Narcissus, Op. 89. Accompanied by harpist Alison York he will also perform Folksong Arrangements for Harp and tenor along with Five Songs from Harmonia Sacra and Interlude from Ceremony of Carols.

1A collaboration between A Boy Was Born, Sheffield Cathedral Choristers and Sheffield High School Junior Department will feature 50 children singing at Sheffield High School, on Friday afternoon.

This is part of an initiative that will be happening across the world. Friday Afternoons is a set of 12 songs composed by Benjamin Britten between 1933 and 1935. The simple songs, with witty piano accompaniments, are dedicated to Britten’s schoolmaster brother, Robert, and the boys of Clive House preparatory school, Prestatyn – a school in which choir practice and singing lessons regularly took place on a Friday afternoon.

1As orchestras and musicians all over the world celebrate the Benjamin Britten centenary, Hallam Choral Society feel they have landed something of a coup in performing the northern premiere of The World of the Spirit which was written when the composer was only 24. Described at the time as technically brilliant, it was commissioned by and performed on the BBC in 1938 and because Britten’s output was so prolific, the cantata apparently disappeared during and after the war years, not being performed or broadcast again until it was revived by Radio 3 in 1995.

Hallam Choral spokesperson Alison Carter said; “This year, we are delighted to join forces with the Tideswell Singers to celebrate Britten’s centenary with this important and long forgotten work.”

They will perform it at Ecclesall Parish Church on Saturday. The two choirs, supported by soloists Claire Surman (soprano, pictured below). Michaela Parry (alto), David Watkin-Holmes(tenor) and Jonathan Openshaw (bass) and The Hallam Sinfonia will be conducted by Peter Taylor. Narration will be by Caroline Small and David Frederickson. As it is the day after St Cecilia’s Day, the two choirs, soloists and orchestra will close the concert with Gounod’s glorious and richly, tuneful St Cecilia Mass, The World of the Spirit and St Cecilia Mass.

Tickets at £5 to £12 (under 16s free) are available from 2369642 or on the door.

1They may be called the Sheffield Bach Society but that doesn’t mean they can’t join the celebration. On Saturday night at St Mark’s Broomhill they will be joined by the Gallery Choir from St Johns Church Ranmoor and the Pickled Boys from Wakefield Cathedral to perform Britten’s St Nicolas and Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, along with Gustav Holst’s Two Psalms. They will be accompanied by the National Festival Orchestra, with Jonathan Gooing and Nigel Gyte at the piano. Tenor Stephen Liley is soloist. Tickets: