Chaos and Cosmos, an orchestral work that Benjamin Britten composed just before his 14th birthday in 1927, for a wedding anniversary of his parents, is being performed by Birmingham Conservatoire students in June.
This is one of Britten’s childhood works that the Conservatoire’s students have been studying and recording to contribute to the Britten Thematic Catalogue, an ongoing project set up by the Britten-Pears Foundation to record all of Britten’s work.
‘Chaos and Cosmos gives a strong foretaste of the young Britten’s adventurous spirit as well as his remarkable ability to absorb and experiment with musical language and orchestral sound,’ says Dr Lucy Walker, director of learning at the Britten-Pears Foundation.
‘The Chaos section audaciously begins with two quiet notes for solo viola, Britten’s own instrument, then builds into a wild scramble around the various sections of the orchestra, with two ominous themes competing for attention. Cosmos follows, more peacefully and with exposed passages for woodwind and high strings.’
The world premiere of Chaos and Cosmos will be performed by the Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lionel Friend, as part of a programme that includes Britten’s Piano Concerto, Tippett’s Praeludium, and Delius’s Sea Drift.
The performance will take place in the Town Hall, Birmingham on Friday 21 June at 7.30pm. This will be part of a five-day festival celebrating British composers (17-21 June).
For an advance extract of the Birmingham Conservatire students recording of Chaos and Cosmos, click here.