Harrison Birtwistle is one of the major musical figures internationally and this concert sees BCMGand Oliver Knussen showcase works from across his career in his 80th birthday year – the fourth such concert of 2014 following performances in Birmingham, London, and at the BBC Proms.

Silbury Air (1977, revised 2003), a Birtwistle classic, brings to the fore the composer’s continuing fascination in the medieval and the mythic, taking its inspiration from the prehistoric mound of Silbury Hill in Wiltshire. Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum (The Perpetual Song of Mechanical Arcady – 1977) is much more clockwork and pulse dominated then the melody focused Silbury Air. The main inspiration for the piece coming from artist Paul Klee, whose influence on Birtwistle has been paramount. Fantasia on all the notes (2012), employs two groups of instruments, winds and strings, which are linked and fused by means of a third force, a harp.

Completing the programme will be: the UK premiere of Goehr’s chamber symphony … between the Lines, which was premiered in May 2014 in Berlin; a repeat performance of Richard Causton’s Chamber Symphony, a piece dominated by bristling brass, winds, and percussion; and a new work by student composer Patrick Brennan.

Secret Theatres: the Music of Harrison Birtwistle brings some of the world’s finest performers to Cambridge for a celebration of one of Britain’s leading composers in his 80th year.

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