Concert celebrates works of pre-war Britten
‘In the Company of Heaven‘ marks a pivotal period in Benjamin Britten’s life: in 1937, before World War II, he started a new job at the BBC, putting their considerable resources to use in expanding a work he had started previously: working with the network’s large staff of musicians and the group then known as the BBC Singers, the special cantata was prepared for radio broadcast at Michelmas, the Anglican feast day of St. Michael and All Angels. Peter Pears, who was Britten’s friend and partner for the rest of their lives, was part of the choral group, and this was their first project together, producing the first of many tenor solos written for Pears: “A Thousand, Thousand Gleaming Fires“, on a text by Emily Brontë. This work is not often performed, but marks the beginning of two legendary careers, and a life partnership and musical collaboration that lasted decades later, until Britten’s death in 1976.
Pasadena Presbyterian Church hosts a concert on Saturday that features our own Micheal Smith and Judith Siirila as soloists, with the Kirk Choir and the Friends of Music Orchestra, all led by music director Timothy Howard, from the organ. The program pairs this piece with other selections from Britten’s early life, including ‘Simple Symphony’. Admission is free, and a reception follows. As this grand event takes place on the exact 75th anniversary of the original broadcast, this rare opportunity will make your weekend.