Britten, Delius and Ireland Feature at Birmingham Conservatoire Festival (June 17th – 21st 2013)

United KingdomUnited Kingdom   Britten, Delius and Ireland Feature at Birmingham Conservatoire Festival (June 17th – 21st 2013)

This year’s Festival of English music comprises 15 concerts over five days, one of which will include the world première of an early work by Benjamin Britten: Chaos and Cosmos. It was composed by Britten a few months before his 14th birthday in 1927, for his parents’ 26th wedding anniversary and is one of a number of childhood orchestral works which the Conservatoire’s talented students have been discovering from the period and importantly, recording for the Britten Thematic Catalogue.

“It’s difficult to tell what the musical, or even scientific, influences on Chaos and Cosmos were, as this was before Britten started to keep a diary”, explains Dr Lucy Walker, Director of Learning and Development at the Britten-Pears Foundation. “The music is extremely original and doesn’t quite sound like anything else being written at that time; at least, not in this country. It gives a strong foretaste of the young Britten’s adventurous spirit as well as his remarkable ability to absorb and experiment with musical language and orchestral sound.”

An extract from Chaos and Cosmos recorded by the students can be heard on the Britten-Pears Foundation website: and the world premiere performance will take place in the Town Hall, Birmingham on Friday 21st June at 7.30pm when it will be performed by the Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lionel Friend in a programme to include Tippett’s Praeludium for brass, bells and percussion, Delius’s Sea Drift and Britten’s Piano Concerto.

An important strand of the Festival is a celebration of the music of Frederick Delius and John Ireland. There will be performances of the complete solo piano works by John Ireland, the Delius Double and Ireland Piano Concerto. Pianist and British music specialist Mark Bebbington, who has recorded the complete solo piano works of John Ireland to great critical acclaim, and in many ways inspired the Festival as a piano tutor at the Conservatoire, will open the inaugural recital with two of Ireland’s most significant works; the Sonata and Rhapsody.

Building on the momentum of their anniversaries in 2012 (the 150th of the birth of Delius and the 50th of the death of Ireland), the Festival also acknowledges the 25th anniversary of the death of Birmingham pianist and teacher Denis Matthews, the 60th anniversary of the death of another significant composer and former Master of The King’s Music, Sir Arnold Bax – and the Britten centenary.


Amongst other artists taking part will be Katharine Lam, Duncan Honeybourne, Lionel Handy, Nigel Clayton, Victor Sangorgio, Philip Martin, De-Wet Lee, Daniele Rosina, Amy Littlewood, Yu-Fen Lin, and stalwart of the keyboard, Margaret Fingerhut, who will be performing Ireland’s London Pieces.

Alexander Baillie and John Thwaites will perform the Cello Sonatas of John Ireland and of composer and former Birmingham University Professor of Music, Ivor Keys, and there will be the opportunity to hear – for the first time in public – a sketch for the opening to a second Ireland Cello Sonata, when Hetti Price will be the soloist.

During the Festival there will be talks, competitions and Student Prizes supported by the composers’ trusts, including the yearly Delius prize awarded by the Delius Society, and a John Ireland Song Prize.

How to book:

Tickets are available in advance from the THSH box office:

and on the door. Full details of the festival programme can be found at: or email:

Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University, Paradise Place, Birmingham, B3 3HG.