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CCM Ensembles Join with Xavier University Concert Choir and Cincinnati Children's Choir to Perform Britten's 'Spring Symphony'

The April 20 concert also features Vaughn Williams' "Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis" for string orchestra and Edward Elgar's concert overture "In the South."

Date: 4/12/2013 12:00:00 AM
By: John Primavera
Other Contact: Curt Whitacre
Other Contact Phone: (513) 556-2683
Photos By: Roland Haupt

UC ingot  
'Spring Symphony' composer Benjamin Britten, circa 1949. Image courtesy of
'Spring Symphony' composer Benjamin Britten, circa 1949. Image courtesy of

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Chorale and Concert Orchestra join forces with the Xavier University Concert Choir and Bel Canto Choir of the Cincinnati Children’s Choir for a performance of Benjamin Britten’s Spring Symphony and other works at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, in UC’s Corbett Auditorium. The program will also include Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis for string orchestra and Edward Elgar’s concert overture In the South. Tickets are on sale now.

Britten’s Spring Symphony, Op. 44, was commissioned and dedicated to Serge Koussevitsky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which shared the 1949 premiere with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in July (in Amsterdam) and August (with the BSO at Tanglewood). This choral symphony was written just four years after Britten’s widely acclaimed Peter Grimes opera when the composer was 35.

Britten’s passion for and vast knowledge of English literature is matched only by his tremendous gift for matching it so masterfully to music. Such skillful and expressive text-setting is unrivaled since the days of Henry Purcell (and certainly in the arena of English opera). Utilizing springtime texts, chiefly from the 16th and 17th centuries (by poets such as Edmund Spenser, John Milton and George Peele), as well as one notable 20th century inclusion by his friend W. H. Auden, Britten creates a work that, in his own words, represents “the progress of Winter to Spring and the reawakening of the earth and life which that means.”

Britten casts the poetry in the mold of a four-movement “symphony,” with full orchestra, chorus, children’s chorus and a trio of soloists (soprano, alto, tenor). But in many ways, the piece is a masterful concerto for orchestra that features the various colors of instrumental “choirs” (brass, winds, strings, etc.). In this regard, it is more of a 17th century Italian “sinfonia,” or “sounding together.” Yet, in some ways, it is a choral response to an earlier (1943) Koussevitsky commission, the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra.

Featured soloists include second-year MM Voice students Nicole Spoltore, soprano; Melisa Bonetti, mezzo-soprano; and James Onstad, tenor.

CCM Director of Choral Studies Earl Rivers conducts Britten’s Spring Symphony. Jing Huan, a third-year conducting doctoral student from China and recently selected participant in the prestigious Cabrillo Festival, will conduct Elgar’s In the South. Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis will be conducted by Aik Khai Pung, adjunct instructor at CCM, who will be assisting in upcoming opera productions at the Lincoln Center Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, Luminato Festival in Toranto and Toronto Festival of Arts Culture and Creativity this summer.

CCM presents Spring Symphony as part of a series of performances celebrating the centennial of English composer Benjamin Britten’s birth. Other celebratory events include a 2013-14 Mainstage Series production of Britten’s opera Owen Wingrave, running Nov. 21–24 in Patricia Corbett Theater.

Learn more about CCM’s 2013-14 Mainstage Series here.

Performance Time
8 p.m. Saturday, April 20

Corbett Auditorium, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets are $12 for general audiences, $6 for non-UC students. UC student tickets are FREE. Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit for more information on parking rates.

For directions to CCM Village, visit

CCM Season Presenting Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Community Partner: ArtsWave