Peter Pears; Benjamin Britten by Kenneth Green

Saturday, 6/​27/​13 — Maverick Chamber Concert: Britten at Woodstock

by Editorial Staff

Maverick’s 2013 season will continue to celebrate the centenary of the great 20th-​​century English composer Benjamin Britten, on Saturday night, July 27, 2013 at 6:30 pm.

conducted by Music Director

“A Portrait: Britten at Woodstock”

Members of the ensemble AUREA
CHRIS TURNER and Malcolm Ingram, readers

Britten: Les Illuminations, for tenor and
string orchestra (1939). This song cycle, which was composed
here in Woodstock during the summer of 1939, comprises
settings of poetry by Arthur Rimbaud.
Britten: Music from Elegy for Solo Viola
Rhapsody for Strings
Three Divertimenti for String Quartet

Music of Mozart, Purcell, and Frank Bridge
Readings of poetry by W.H. Auden, Stephen Spender,
Christopher Isherwood, and Virginia Woolf

Paul Appleby

Paul Appleby

One of the most anticipated Maverick tradition is the mid-​​summer concert of music for chamber orchestra and soloists conducted by Music Director Alexander Platt. This year’s event focuses on a work that Britten composed during the summer he spent at Woodstock in 1939. Written on the eve of World War Two, Les Illuminations, for tenor and string orchestra, is an epic song cycle set to the words of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud.

From the program notes written by Miriam Vulcher Berg:

In 1938, Benjamin Britten was living in London, but the colonies were calling to him. He had moved in with the tenor Peter Pears, referring to Pears in a letter as “the guy I share a flat with.” Audiences were appreciative of Britten’s music, but the critics were very hard on him, panning his Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge and his Piano Concerto. There were other reasons to consider a trip across the pond: War seemed probable in Europe; Britten was overworked, and his doctor was recommending rest and relaxation; both Peter Pears and Britten’s great mentor Frank Bridge had enjoyed considerable success in the United States; his friends and W.H. Auden had emigrated to the States to avoid the coming conflict; and he had just met and become friends with the American composer Aaron Copland, who was planning a pleasant working summer vacation in Woodstock.

So, in April of 1939, Britten and Pears set sail for Canada. Britten was well received there, as he was during his entire stay in North America, by critics and audiences alike. The couple traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and then joined Copland and his lover, the photographer Victor Kraft, in Woodstock for the summer. During the trip, Britten and Pears’ relationship became more than friendship, and they remained devoted partners for the rest of their lives.

Britten wrote many letters home to his sister. “Peter and I are now settled for a month up in a place called Woodstock in the Kingston district of the Hudson River (look it up in the map) near the Catskill Mountains. It’s very beautiful and we’ve rented a studio there. Aaron C. is near and we have a great time together….” Their two cottages were probably along the Millstream, where there are several places to swim. Victor Kraft took a photograph of Britten, Copland, and Pears on Millstream Road.

The atmosphere of Britten’s world will be further conjured through readings of poetry by W.H. Auden, Stephen Spender, and Virginia Woolf. Other works on this gala program will include music by Mozart, Henry Purcell, and Britten’s mentor, the late-​​Romantic English composer Frank Bridge.

Buy tickets online…


Sunday, July 28, 2013, 4 pm  |  ESCHER STRING QUARTET

Escher String Quartet

Escher String Quartet, by Laura Rose

“Late Swallows” Elgar: String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 83 (1918)
Britten: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 94,
“Death in Venice” (1975)
Sir Harrison Birtwistle (b. 1934):
Music from Nine Movements for String Quartet (1996)
Beethoven: String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135,
“Muss es sein?


 Buy tickets online…

next week

Saturday, August 3, 11 am  |  Young People’s Concert
Marc Black, vocals and guitar

Admission is free for all young people under 16. These wonderful concerts, long a Maverick tradition, are designed for enjoyment by school-​​age children.
Adults pay $5 each.

Saturday, August 3, 6:30 pm  |  Perry Beekman, guitar and vocals,
with Peter Tomlinson, piano, and Lou Pappas, bass
Songs of Rodgers and Hart

Sunday, August 4, 4 pm  |  The Leipzig String Quartet
Music of Beethoven, Lutosławski, and Franck


 maverickconcerts​.org/       getting there

Phone: (845) 679‑8217

Maverick Concerts
120 Maverick Rd.
Woodstock, NY 12498 – 2503

Comments are closed.