Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

November 21, 2013

A musical 100th for Britten at Christ Church


The Andover Townsman

---- — The choirs of Christ Church Andover celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of famed British composer Benjamin Britten with a concert on Saturday, Nov. 23, at 3 p.m. at the 33 Central St. church.

In addition to all the choirs of Christ Church, the program will feature soloists, the Young Opera Company of New England and Christ Church musicians John Skelton, Carolyn Skelton, Carol Doran, Marie Stultz and Barbara Bruns.

Following the performance, tea will be served in the British tradition inside the Parish Hall. In keeping with the spirit of the event, hats and gloves for ladies are encouraged.

Britten’s “Te Deum in C” for choir, organ and soprano conducted by Bruns will be among the featured works for the concert. Parish Choir soloist and section leader Anney Barrett will perform as soloist and John Skelton will accompany on the C.B. Fisk organ, installed last year.

John and Carolyn Skelton, Doran and Bruns were heard in recital on the organ in its inaugural season; they will be joined for Saturday’s program by guest organist Reiko Okamoto. In addition to being organist and director of Christ Church’s choirs, Bruns is also associate conductor of The Boston Cecilia.

Britten’s 12 songs titled “Friday Afternoons,” a witty collection of poems selected by Britten and set to music by the composer for the children of his brother’s preparatory school, who rehearsed on Friday afternoons, will be performed by members of the Young Opera Company of New England and St. Cecilia Choristers of Christ Church.

Born on Nov. 22, 1913, Britten is remembered as a pianist, conductor and especially as the composer who is admired for works ranging from his “Ceremony of Carols” for harp and treble voices to the large-scale opera “Peter Grimes” to the great “War Requiem” for chorus, soloists and full orchestra.

The “Te Deum in C” was crafted by Britten at age 20 at the end of his studies at the Royal College of Music. A small-scale masterpiece, its overall expression is one of great hope and peace. Britten’s works now represent to the musical world some of the best 20th century English music. He was recognized at the end of his life as the only composer granted a peerage of the realm as a baron. He died in December 1976.

Doors open at 2:30 p.m. A suggested donation at the door of $15 for adults and $10 for students/seniors is requested, and includes the afternoon tea. Proceeds will be used to further music events at Christ Church Andover.