Major anniversary celebrations will include world premieres.

Secret Theatres marks the most significant new music festival ever to be presented in Cambridge.

Richard Causton, Lecturer in Composition.

A major programme to celebrate the career of one of Britain’s greatest living composers comes to Cambridge in November.

Secret Theatres: the Music of Harrison Birtwistle brings some of the most respected practitioners of contemporary music to Cambridge in celebration of Birtwistle in his 80th year.

The Arditti String Quartet, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Oliver Knussen, Anssi Karttunen and Nicolas Hodges appear alongside the University of Cambridge’s New Music Ensemble, Choir of King’s College and The King’s Men for this three day festival conceived by Cambridge University’s first Lecturer in Composition, Richard Causton. 

Causton, a composer, is currently working on a new Piano Quintet commissioned by the BBC for the Nash Ensemble and his new work for cello solo, De Profundis (2014), will be given its world premiere by Anssi Karttunen on the last day of the festival.

Causton said: “Secret Theatres marks the most significant new music festival ever to be presented in Cambridge. Not only will it feature a range of works from across Birtwistle’s career, but will also provide entry points for student composers at all levels.”

On the Sunday before the beginning of the festival, Causton leads a practical composition workshop – Taking a Line for a Walk – for local sixth-formers, using Birtwistle’s music as a starting point.

During the course of the festival itself, student composers are invited to attend workshops with the Arditti String Quartet, listen to Birtwistle in conversation with Causton, and participate in one-on-one sessions with the composer.

With the works of Birtwistle at its core, Secret Theatres will also include world premieres by MPhil student Joy Lisney; doctoral students David Roche, Jae-Moon Lee and Patrick Brennan; and third year undergraduate student Alex Tay.

The premieres are programmed alongside a UK première by Alexander Goehr, Emeritus Professor at the Faculty of Music and a close associate of Birtwistle since the 1950s, as well as works by faculty members John Hopkins and Causton.

The programme runs from Thursday, 6 November to Saturday, 8 November.

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