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The Boston Globe


Music Review

Britten’s poetic vocal works, in centenary tribute

It’s no secret that the classical music world leans heavily on composer anniversaries as a way of organizing its programming. The windfall of attention received by any one composer, however, can have varying effects. Few would expect this year’s bicentenary celebrations of Wagner and Verdi, for instance, to yield major shifts in their reputations, as they already reside at the very heart of the operatic pantheon. Yet this is also the year when Benjamin Britten would have turned 100, and the Britten centenary is poised, in a way, to be more impactful on the fortunes of a composer whose music is treasured by many connoisseurs but is still little-known by many more casual concertgoers.

The music itself will be programmed in abundance around the world this year, and Boston will take part in the festivities, too. The BSO recently programmed the Violin Concerto, New England Conservatory’s opera department is currently performing “The Turn of the Screw,” and Boston University will soon take on “Owen Wingrave” (Feb. 21-24). In the meantime, BU’s Marsh Chapel is mounting its own centennial tribute with a series of concerts that began auspiciously on Saturday night, with the young rising tenor Nicholas Phan joining the Marsh Chapel Collegium under the direction of Scott Allen Jarrett for an all-Britten program.

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