World's most adventurous cellist
Cellist Matthew Barley is celebrating 100 years of Benjamin Britten with an ambitious national tour involving concerts, workshops and special events in at least 100 venues across the UK.
One of Barley’s aims is to take Britten’s music to audiences that might not otherwise hear it, in a kaleidoscope of venues throughout the country from cathedrals, concert halls and castles to a lighthouse in Kent, a barn in Colchester and a cave in Derbyshire, and a poignant concert on the anniversary of Britten’s death in the composer’s beloved home, The Red House in Aldeburgh.
Showcasing his ever-growing virtuosity as a world-renowned cellist, Barley places Britten’s powerful Third Cello Suite – dedicated to and first performed by the great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich – at the centre of a programme, alongside two of Bach’s great suites, numbers 2 and 5, plus some contemporary works, including Thrinos by John Taverner.
In an added dimension, Matthew has commissioned an animated film made from a series of paintings on glass, which will be projected during the Britten piece, accompanying its narrative structure.
Matthew Barley says: “This tour combines many of the things I love in music: core repertoire, commissions, multi-media work, education, looking for new ways and places to present great music, and, of course, the extraordinary suites of Benjamin Britten.
“It will be a great odyssey, travelling throughout the land with such a wonderful programme, meeting so many people who would not normally hear this music. The tour is conceived very much in the spirit of Britten, his inclusivity, his search for new forms of expression, and his dreams for musical community.”
Catch Matthew Barley at St Michael and All Angel’s Church, Lambourn, on Monday evening, as part of the Newbury Spring Festival.
The 35th Newbury Spring Festival runs until Saturday, May 25. For event and ticket information, visit