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Britten 100: awards and new books

(August 2014)

The Britten Centenary has been attracting major awards following its success in 2013, and new Britten books continue to appear including a collection of paintings by DESSA and a biography by Christopher Mark.

The worldwide Britten 100 celebration has won the Royal Philharmonic Society's 2014 Audiences and Engagement award "for an outstanding initiative to engage new and existing audiences with classical music". The RPS Music Awards, presented in association with BBC Radio 3, are the highest recognition for live classical music and musical excellence in the UK. Britten 100 was led by the Britten-Pears Foundation in association with publishers Boosey & Hawkes, Faber Music and Chester Music, in collaboration with international presenting organisations.

The RPS judges noted that "the scale, ambition and diversity of the celebrations of Britten’s music under this promotional umbrella, ensured an exceptional number of performances, projects and resources drawing new and appreciative audiences to Britten worldwide". Britten-Pears Foundation's General Director Richard Jarman (pictured) accepted the award on behalf of all who took part in the 4,500 centenary performances and other activities around the world, and thanked all those who helped make Britten 100 such a resounding success.

The Friday Afternoons project, which saw 10,000 children performing songs from Britten's collection in a birthday time-zone relay from New Zealand to California, won the Music Teacher award for best digital resource in music education. A second year of Friday Afternoons, encouraging singing in school with further Britten songs and newly commissioned works, is now underway: please visit

Artist DESSA made a striking contribution to the Britten centenary with her recently published book of 47 paintings based on the composer's Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia from Peter Grimes (ISBN 2-940223-06-8). The luminous moods of the interludes are painted on large canvas whilst on small format, the handwritten notes are interpreted as intimate symbols through free association. To accompany the paintings, the artist discusses Benjamin Britten with Frank Harders-Wuthenow from Boosey and Hawkes Berlin, and is interviewed on her life and work by the journalist Gaby Sohl.

The Peter Grimes-inspired paintings by DESSA will be exhibited at the Espace Culturel Assens near Lausanne in Switzerland between 25 April and 7 June 2015, alongside her collection Mémoire de Theresienstadt, based on Viktor Ullman's Piano Sonata No.7.

> Buy DESSA's book of paintings from our Online Shop 
> DESSA website

Christopher Mark's new biography of Benjamin Britten has been published in the ABRSM's An Extraordinary Life series (ISBN 978-1-84849-572-2). In this accessible history, Mark traces the impact of Britten’s physical and cultural environment, his shifting musical and personal relationships, and his emerging sense of sexual identity on his musical output. What is revealed is not only a life conditioned by a compulsion to compose, but one which seems increasingly to reflect Britten's aesthetic imperatives.

> Buy Christopher Mark's Britten biography from our Online Shop

> Further information on Work: Friday Afternoons

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