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Students Celebrate Britten�s Centenary

Published Wednesday 11th of December 2013 10:47:50 AM

Students from Oakham School joined thousands of pupils from across the world to celebrate the Centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten, the UK's most successful classical composer.

The voices of over 100,000 pupils rang out on Friday, all singing Britten�s �Friday Afternoons� songs. At Oakham School the celebration was even more special, as Britten had originally dedicated �Friday Afternoons� to his Oakham-educated brother (Robert Britten attended Oakham School from 1921 to 1925).

To celebrate Oakham�s strong links to Britten, as well as their national reputation for composition, the school also premi�red a newly-commissioned companion piece by Thomas Hewitt Jones, one of the country�s most exciting new composers. Entitled �Daydreams�, this set of six songs for children�s voices (Traffic lights, �-ER� verbs, Chocolate Crackle-tops, Audio Guide, Friday Afternoons and New Year), all take 21st Century themes to contrast with the original work. Both composer and lyricist (Paul Williamson) were present to hear the performance.

�Britten�s centenary has given us all the opportunity to enjoy and celebrate great compositions. As well as enjoying his music, hopefully it may just inspire our next generation of composers,� says Oakham School�s Director of Music, Peter Davis. �It�s important that pupils should be encouraged to follow in Britten�s footsteps, to develop their composition skills,� adds Peter. �Composition isn�t just one of the three pillars of modern music education (performing, creating and listening to music); it�s also a discipline that helps pupils to develop a transferable set of skills that can help them to think creatively and to plan strategically.�

A second piece was also premi�red at the concert. "Greater Gabbard" by 13 year old pupil Morgan Overton, was performed to an enthusiastic audience by Morgan on piano, soprano Charlotte Senescall and flautist Amy Walker. The piece had won Morgan the Britten Young Songwriter Competition (13 and under group), which challenged youngsters, aged 18 and under, to set music to the words of two poems especially written by the popular writer Anthony Horowitz. �Our strength in composition is regularly recognised in national competitions like the Royal Opera House Fanfare composition competition and our recent success in the Britten Young Songwriter Competition. It is particularly impressive that Oakham music scholars, Morgan Overton and Emma Farmer, were recognised in two out of only four categories in this national competition,� says Peter. �It was particularly special to be able to showcase this work, at the same time as celebrating Britten and his links with Oakham.�
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