Sir Harrison Birtwistle's works showcased in London Sinfonietta tribute concert at the Southbank Centre

3 March 2023

This Sunday, the London Sinfonietta conducted by Martyn Brabbins perform a portrait concert of Sir Harrison Birtwistle's works, in memory of the composer himself.

The London Sinfonietta write:

“The purpose of life is to pass the message on”: so reads the inscription on an art work by Bob Law, which was the inspiration for The Message, the duet which begins this concert in which the London Sinfonietta pays tribute to one of its longest-standing collaborators, Sir Harrison Birtwistle. This concert spans Birtwistle’s varied output, ranging from the duet written for the Ensemble's 40th birthday, to the epic and theatrical Verses, the first piece the composer wrote for the London Sinfonietta and requiring musicians to walk around the stage in strange and ritual processions. In a second half performed side-by-side with musicians from the Royal Academy of Music The Fields of Sorrow was first composed for amateur musicians, while In Broken Images, co-commissioned by the London Sinfonietta, celebrates the formation of the Italian state. Tonight’s concert is a showcase of an enormous, varied and mysterious ingenuity – and at its heart it is a celebration of our relationship with the late, great composer.

Other tributes to Sir Harrison include the London Symphony Orchestra's appearance with Sir Simon Rattle, which included Donum Simoni MMXVIII, originally written as a musical gift in 2018 to open the LSO's 18/19 season, and Sonance Severance performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, both at the BBC Proms in 2022, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra performed orchestral favourite Deep Time with Edward Gardner in May 2022 at the Royal Festival Hall. Recent recordings include the Nash Ensemble's disc of Birtwistle's chamber works, announced as a Critic's Choice disc in Gramophone Magazine and praised as "the finest of fine arts", "a worthy memorial of long-lasting value" (Gramophone), and Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich's recording of Harrison's Clocks - Clock IV, played "incisively and gorgeously" (Gramophone).

For more information and tickets to the London Sinfonietta concert, click here.

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