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Wednesday, 27 January 2010, 12:00AM
Barnard's Inn Hall

Britten and Auden: Inventive Days, inebriated nights at 7 Middagh Street, Brooklyn

Chamber Domaine

In 1936, Britten and Auden established a friendship and creative partnership whilst working at the GPO film unit in Blackheath, London, producing iconic films such as "Night Mail."  With war looming, Auden - a pacifist - left for America to be shortly followed by Britten and Peter Pears in 1939.  7 Middagh Street in Brooklyn Heights was to become their home and an extraordinary melting part of creativity.  Gypsy Rose Lee, Carson McCullers, George Davis, Chester Kallman were fellow lodgers and regular visitors included Thomas Mann, Aaron Copland, Lotte Lenya, Kurt Weill, Virgil Thomson, Marc Blitzstein and Leonard Bernstein. When Salvador Dali met Auden at one of the infamous house parties he famously asked him "Do you speak English?" 

Inventive days were followed by inebriated nights and eventually the inhabitants parted company.  However, Britten and Auden enjoyed fruitful collaborations during this period.  The lecture will look at their work together including the opera Paul Bunyan, the Serenade for Tenor Horn and Strings, On This Island and the Cabaret Songs.

This event is a part of the series Creative Inspiration.
The series explores the extraordinary creative collaborations and friendships that composers have had with celebrated figures in other fields:  Claude Debussy and Stephane Mallarme; Gustav Mahler and Sigmund Freud; Benjamin Britten and W H Auden; Igor Stravinsky and Serge Diaghilev. 
Their symbiotic relationships have led to some of the greatest developments in the arts in the 20th Century and have profoundly influenced our understanding and appreciation of modern culture.  Their groundbreaking work illuminates the human condition and has expanded our thinking about the world around us.

Other events in this series by Chamber Domaine at Gresham College include:
    Stravinsky and Diaghilev: The Alternative Russian Revolution
    Debussy and Mallarme: Symbolism and Les Mardistes
    Mahler and Freud: Understanding Mahler

chamber-domaine

Chamber Domaine is at the cutting edge of music making in the 21st Century. Its excellence and dynamism have received widespread acclaim in the United Kingdom and abroad.

The ensemble prides itself on its creativity, innovation and communication, developing partnerships that take music to diverse audiences. Under it artistic director, Thomas Kemp, the ensemble features many of the finest musicians in the United Kingdom.

Chamber Domaine focuses on instrumental chamber music and song with programmes that range from the Baroque through to Contemporary. Quality and imagination are central to their vision be it in concert, recording or in education. Groundbreaking projects illuminate the music of today with music from three centuries. 

Chamber Domaine brings passion, commitment and high virtuosity to a diverse repertoire that makes music come alive whilst placing it into its cultural context: making music relevant to everyone.  The Times recently commented “Chamber Domaine brilliantly demonstrated the thrill of young players successfully climbing Mount Everest…with exhilarating bravery and expressive force.” The New York Times praised the ensemble for its “intriguing programming” and “unabashed lushness” at its US debut in 2003 at Bargemusic.  

The ensemble gave its highly praised South Bank and Wigmore Hall debuts in 1999 and since then has performed at leading festivals and concert series in the United Kingdom, Europe and North America.  The ensemble has a residency at Gresham College. They have also had residencies at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Imperial War Museum, London and the Arnold Schoenberg Centre, Vienna.

The ensemble has an education programme and works regularly with the Wigmore Hall Education and Community department. They have an ongoing project Music of Our Time which links art, poetry, architecture and music from the 20th Century in workshops and concerts, notably with the actress Helen Lederer and the composer David Horne.

Chamber Domaine frequently give world and UK premieres by leading composers and have worked with Judith Bingham at the City of London Festival, Piers Helawell at the Cheltenham International Festival and Arvo Part at the Edinburgh Festival. A disc of this collaboration was released on the Black Box Label and was Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine, which described the recording as “glorious”. 

Further recordings include a disc of instrumental chamber music and song by Ned Rorem with Sara Fulgoni and Christopher Lemmings. The International Record Review commented “These are extremely fine recordings of genuine commitment and respect…they are unlikely to be bettered on record for some time.”   

The ensemble has just recorded a disc of music by Gorecki that includes seven world premiere recordings with the Baritone, Ronan Collet.  The disc has received universal acclaim including a five star review in the BBC Music Magazine. The disc was picked by Norman Lebrecht as CD of the week in The Evening Standard who described the playing as “gorgeous.”

They regularly broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and on radio in Europe and North America. In April 2008, the ensemble had a major tour of Sweden with the tenor Christopher Lemmings and made a broadcast on Swedish Radio to great acclaim. The ensemble was proud to have been selected for the Concert Promoters’ Network 2008-2009.

Recent and forthcoming engagements include residencies at the Brighton Festival working with the sculptor Anish Kapoor, a residency at Kings Place, a series of concerts at Wigmore Hall and tours planned in Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia.

They are recording the sound track to a film Getting it On, a Universal Film with Richard E Grant about Cosi fan Tutte. The ensemble will be recording Das Lied von der Erde early next year in a performance on period instruments. Chamber Domaine has a busy schedule of concerts and is one of the most dynamic, versatile and creative ensembles of its kind.

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27 January 2010

Britten and Auden: Inventive Days, inebriated nights at 7 Middagh Street, Brooklyn
Chamber Domaine

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