George Benjamin turns 50 in style

The eminent British composer celebrates his landmark birthday with special concert at the Southbank Centre  


George Benjamin may have celebrated his 50th birthday on Saturday, but the London-born composer, conductor and pianist is not content to let the festivities end there. The distinguished craftsman will be giving an exclusive birthday concert at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on Sunday 7 February. And if that wasn’t enough, the composer will also be releasing a limited-edition album of piano pieces, to be made available at this concert. Never one to shy away from a busy schedule, Benjamin recorded the album, entitled Piano Figures, no less than one day before his birthday.

George Benjamin has achieved international success, having gained the reputation as a major force in contemporary composition. The concert at London’s QEH will provide a fitting overview of Benjamin’s lively and varied output. As well as performing his own Piano Figures, a collection of 10 pieces aimed at young pianists, the maestro will be conducting the London Sinfonietta in a number of his ensemble works, including the new dance commission Viola Viola. Benjamin aficionados will also be pleased to hear that 100 copies of Piano Figures – each signed by the composer himself – will also be available at the concert.
For those unable to make the performance at QEH, it will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Hear and Now on Saturday 13 February. It seems that 2010 is already proving to be a busy year for Benjamin, even by the composer’s prolific standards. Talking to Radio 3’s Tom Service last month, George Benjamin even let slip that he is working on a new opera, proving that at the milestone age of 50, Benjamin shows no signs of slowing down.