The Royal Philharmonic Society is jointly marking Benjamin Britten’s centenary and its own bicentenary by teaming with the Britten-Pears Foundation to commission an important new work. Innocence and Experience, a songbook for young voices which uses texts from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, is to feature two new songs each by Sally Beamish, Charlotte Bray, Anna Meredith and Thea Musgrave. The work will be premiered by the New London Children’s Choir, conducted by Ronald Corp, at the Aldeburgh Festival on June 9, 2013.
Inspired by Britten’s Friday Afternoons, the work is one of six joint anniversary commissions by the RPS and Britten-Pears Foundation involving composers Wolfgang Rihm, Judith Weir, Magnus Lindberg, Poul Ruders and Harrison Birtwistle. All six works will be performed at Aldeburgh 2013 featuring the Hallé, Britten Sinfonia, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Vertavo Quartet and tenor Mark Padmore. Innocence and Experience will be dedicated to Richard Rodney Bennett, who died on December 24, 2012.
RPS trustee and BPF music director Colin Matthews commented: ‘Writing music for children’s voices was such a vital part of Britten’s musical output and it therefore feels fitting to continue the tradition of both Britten and Richard Rodney Bennett, who himself wrote a wonderful body of music for young performers, by creating a songbook to enliven and inspire singing well beyond the concert hall.’