Michael Berkeley marks 75th birthday with world premieres and festival features

26 May 2023

This year Michael Berkeley celebrates his 75th birthday, and has marked the important occasion with a new commission, festival features and performances.

At the Presteigne Festival in August 2023, he premieres a new work, The Magnolia Tree, to be performed by the Kegelstatt Trio, and Super Flumina Babylonis will be performed by the Choir of King’s College London, and at the Machynlleth and Swaledale Festivals, Lotte Betts-Dean and Brett Dean join forces for a coffee concert to include works by Michael Berkeley.

In May 2023, Released by Love was premiered at St. John-at-Hampstead by the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music Singers, marking not just Michael’s 75th birthday, but also the 120th anniversary of the birth of his father Lennox Berkeley, and the 400th anniversary of the death of William Byrd.

Michael is featured composer at this year’s Elgar Festival in June 2023, where a selection of his works will be performed by the English Symphony Orchestra, including The Secret Garden, one of his most colourful and ebullient works, and Visions of Piers Ploughman, Berkeley’s musical response to the epic poem drawn from the Malvern Hills. He also gives lectures, talks, and conducting masterclasses at the Elgar School of Music.

In further birthday year activities, Mahan Esfahani premiered Michael’s Haiku II: Insects, a set of six harpsichord pieces – “each a vivid little virtuoso sketch depicting the movements of a different insect” (Andrew Clements, The Guardian) and Nicholas Daniel performed Snake (2012) for solo cor anglais, at Snape Maltings. The Zephyr Quartet performed Abstract Mirror for City Music Society at St. Bartholomew the Great, alongside Boccherini’s quintet.

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