Thousands celebrate the life of Benjamin Britten as A Boy Was Born Festival Comes to A Close
The Department of Music’s year-long A Boy Was Born festival came to its conclusion towards the end of December. The festival promoted the life and work of the composer Benjamin Britten who celebrated his centenary last year.
Encompassing talks, concerts, films, musical theatre productions and expansive education work, internationally acclaimed artists performed alongside community musical organisations throughout the year. With over 50 events featuring 70 of Britten’s compositions, the festival attracted over 10,000 audience members and was described by the press as “the most ambitious and extensive of the many Britten festivals taking place in the country”.
30 city partners were involved in the project and 2,000 people participated in music making activity in the city, including 200 children through Widening Participation and outreach projects. The festival gained a substantial amount of media coverage with 40 independent articles and features appearing in regional press.
Highlights included performances from internationally world-class artists including the Chilingirian String Quartet, cellist Natalie Clein, and singers Joan Rodgers and Joan Mark Ainsley; spoken word events, including contributions from Simon Armitage and Roger Lloyd Pack (best known as Trigger from Only Fools and Horses); the composition of a new children’s opera ‘Emil and the Detectives’; and children from Sheffield Cathedral Choir and Sheffield High School participated in a international initiative to perform Britten’s Song Cycle ‘Friday Afternoons’ on the day of his birth.
Concerts Manager and Festival Director Stewart Campbell said: “It’s been an inspirational year, a real melting pot of creativity. Britten was very much inspired by his local surroundings and composed music for his local community. I’m enormously proud of the individuals, ensembles and organisations from our own creative community in Sheffield who joined together to produce this incredible body of work. The festival has really highlighted the importance music making plays in our city’s vibrant cultural landscape and the wealth and diversity of talent we’re privileged to have here in Sheffield.”