This year marks 100 years since the birth of Benjamin Britten, renowned English composer of classical music. To celebrate his centennial, on Sunday, September 29, the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center (AUPAC) will host the “Adelphi Distinguished Faculty in Concert: Britten Celebration.” The evening will feature the song cycle The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, performed by Adelphi faculty artists Jonathan Goodman, tenor and Christopher Lyndon-Gee, piano, and Nocturnal After John Dowland, performed by William Zito, guitar. The program also includes Piano Sonata No. 2 by Michael Tippett. The event will take place at 4:00 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center Concert Hall, 1 South Avenue, Garden City, NY.
A composer, conductor, and pianist, Benjamin Britten is responsible for creating some of the most memorable music of the 20th century. In four decades, Britten published more than 100 works. His first opera Peter Grimes, a huge success, catapulted his career and led to additional operas such as Albert Herring, Billy Budd, The Turn of the Screw, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Death in Venice. Additional genres include chamber, choral, and orchestral music, as well as music which Britten wrote for several well-known solo performers of the time including Janet Baker, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Mstislav Rostropovich and Julian Bream, and Britten’s long time partner Peter Pears.
During the nearly four decades they worked together, Britten and Pears cultured a legacy of giving back within the musical community. Recognizing the dearth of operas composed by English musicians, Britten founded the English Opera Group in 1947 with theatrical director and librettist Eric Crozier, and designer John Piper. In 1948, Britten and Pears founded the Aldeburgh Festival, a music festival in England that brought together internationally known musicians with emerging talent. Now in its 65th year, the festival continues to thrive, providing performances, master classes, and programs for young artists. Britten and Pears also established Snape Maltings Concert Hall, a center for young artists, which became part of Adleburgh Music. In 1977, the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies was founded. Now called The Britten-Pears Young Artist program, the school offers courses to select young musicians and singers who are beginning their careers.
Throughout the country, musical and educational organizations are celebrating Britten. According to britten100.org, a website dedicated to the occasion, there are nearly 1900 events being held worldwide. As Professor Christopher Lyndon-Gee noted, “The Adelphi Symphony Orchestra already marked the centenary this year of the great British composer Benjamin Britten, with our performance in April of his youthful, exuberant and boundlessly inventive Piano Concerto, from 1938.”
Of the upcoming concert, Professor Lyndon-Gee remarked, “The light-hearted sparkle of the Concerto contrasts with the severe, profoundly moving and ultimately life-affirming The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, composed in less than two weeks in 1946. Britten had spent the early years of the Second World War in America, undertaking the perilous sea voyage back home to England in 1942. Then, in early 1946, he and violinist Yehudi Menuhin toured war-ravaged Europe, playing recitals at first hand to the still emaciated survivors of many of the death camps and concentration camps throughout Germany. Shattered, Britten turned to the 16th century English poet John Donne ---- Oh, my blacke Soule; Death, be not proud! ---- to encapsulate the intensity of this life-changing experience. The resulting work is one of his most important compositions, pointing powerfully towards his masterpiece of 1961, the War Requiem. "
Adelphi University’s Performing Arts Center is Long Island’s premier cultural arts venue for entertainment of all kinds. Tickets for the Britten Celebration concert are on sale now and are priced at $20 each. Information is available at The Lucia and Steven N. Fischer Box Office at 516.877.4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Box Office Hours: Tuesday-Friday from 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
For more information about all the events at AUPAC and to purchase tickets, visit aupac.adelphi.edu.
About Adelphi University: Adelphi is a world class, modern university with excellent and highly relevant programs where students prepare for lives of active citizenship and professional careers. Through its schools and programs—The College of Arts and Sciences, Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, Honors College, Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, University College, Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, College of Nursing and Public Health and the School of Social Work—the co-educational university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as professional and educational programs for adults. Adelphi University currently enrolls nearly 8,000 students from 43 states and 45 foreign countries. With its main campus in Garden City and centers in Manhattan, Hauppauge, and Poughkeepsie, the University, chartered in 1896, maintains a commitment to liberal studies in tandem with rigorous professional preparation and active citizenship.