Jacaranda Hosts Benjamin Britten Centenary Celebration In Santa Monica Tonight

Sunday, 7 Apr 2013, 8:58:00 AM

Mitch James

Jacaranda opens a three-concert celebration of Benjamin Britten’s centenary this Sunday in Santa Monica.
Photo by Roland Haupt
Jacaranda opens a three-concert celebration of Benjamin Britten’s centenary this Sunday in Santa Monica.

Jacaranda joins the citywide Benjamin Britten 100/LA

celebration with a three-concert survey of his music beginning today,

April 7 with “February House: Brooklyn’s Original Party Place” at the First

Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica

This 7:30 pm concert takes its theme from the storied

Brooklyn residence where Britten and his partner, tenor Peter Pears, lived in

the early 1940s with legendary writers and other cultural luminaries.

The concert will feature solo and two-piano music by duo

pianists Anna Grinberg and Liam Viney, Keve Wilson on oboe, and Eric Jacobs on


In 1939, Britten and Pears left England by ship to avoid

the war and start a new life in New York, where they became lovers.

For a busy and intoxicating year, they lived at February

House with W.H. Auden, Gypsy Rose Lee, Jane and Paul Bowles, magazine maven

George Davis, the children of Thomas Mann and Carson McCullers.

Aaron Copland partied at the house, as did critic and

composer Virgil Thomson, Balinese gamelan expert Colin McPhee, 24-year-old

composer Leonard Bernstein, singer-actress Lotte Lenya, and ballet’s George

Balanchine, among many others.

The concert evokes this creative and social nexus with

music by Thomson, Copland, Paul Bowles and McPhee, as well as by Britten.

The Australian-based Viney/Grinberg piano duo has

appeared on the distinguished Piano Spheres concert series.

“I cannot imagine a finer performance, as this one had

everything, illuminating every bar of the music,” wrote Ivan Katz, director of

Yale University’s Horowitz Series. “The audience went wild.”

Jacaranda will give the U.S. debut of the belatedly

published McPhee arrangement for two pianos of Britten’s “Variations on a Theme

of Frank Bridge” for string orchestra. Also by Britten, the fiercely energetic

“Overture: Paul Bunyan,” not used in the ill-fated Broadway-bound operetta.

Jacaranda’s Britten celebration continues April 27 with

a concert staging of “Curlew River,” a chamber opera (1963) intended for

performance in a church.

Jacaranda’s Britten celebration and current season come

to a close with “Young Apollo: God of Music, Poetry and Healing” on June 1.

The First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica is located

at 1220 Second Street, Santa Monica.

General concert tickets are $40 ($20 students). For

information or to purchase tickets go to jacarandamusic.org or call


Copyright © 2011 by Santa Monica Mirror. All rights reserved.