George Benjamin at 60: focus at Présences 2020

George Benjamin smiling portrait credit Matthew Lloyd (WEB).jpg

George Benjamin’s 60th birthday will be marked in Paris early in 2020 where he will be the featured composer at Radio France’s Présences Festival. There will be 11 works featured across 15 events, including concert performances of Written on Skin and Into the Little Hill.

 

Another major focus is planned at the Stockholm International Composer Festival in November 2019. Highlights include a performance of dramatic scena Sometime Voices for baritone, choir and orchestra, with Gyula Orendt (who created the role of Gaveston in Lessons in Love and Violence). Benjamin is only the fifth British composer to have been featured there (the others being Tippett, Knussen, Musgrave and Adès).

 

 

Written on Skin in Tokyo and Venice

Kazushi Ono conducted the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra in Written on Skin at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall at the end of August. The two performances featured spectacular stage designs by Dr Shizuka Hariu (see design sketch below).

Meanwhile, La Biennale di Venezia has awarded George Benjamin the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Music 2019. Benjamin is the first British musician to receive the award. The honour, one of the most prestigious of its kind, will be awarded before a concert performance of Written on Skin by the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI which will open the 63rd International Contemporary Music Festival on 27 September. Clemens Schuldt will conduct a cast including Georgia Jarman, Christopher Purves, and James Hall.

Early 2020 will see concert performances in Paris and Vienna with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France conducted by Benjamin (when Barbara Hannigan will reprise the role of Agnès) and the opera’s Canadian stage premiere at L’Opéra de Montréal where Alain Gauthier directs a new production (the eighth to date!).

Written on Skin was recently featured prominently in the Guardian’s list of best classical music works of the 21st century.