Jackdaws Celebrates Britten’s Centenary

2013 is a huge year for Jackdaws. Not only are we celebrating 20 years of Jackdaws, but also the centenary of the birth of England’s greatest composer Benjamin Britten. We did this by coming together with students from Frome College, Oakfield Academy, Selwood Academy and members of the Jack’s club to put on a concert at the College.

Before World War Two broke out, Benjamin Britten had moved to America along with singer Peter Pears, but moved back to England in 1942, where he was registered as a conscientious objector – the idea of not fighting for your country was a terrible crime then. Eventually, Britten was allowed to not fight if he composed and performed for the war effort.

Performing many of Britten’s classics like the War Requiem and Lacrymosa students also worked with local poet Shaun Jackson and composer William Carslake to create music and lyrics about things that meant a lot to Britten – the themes chosen were war, death and peace and belonging. There were even a few fighting scenes performed by Selwood students.

Professional opera singer and Jackdaws’ Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg worked with singers from every school to create the powerfully haunting choral sound similar to that of Britten’s War Requiem and poems were read out that reflected Britten’s opinion of the War and the opinions of those who survived it.

The evening went smoothly – even including a little audience participation – and everyone felt that it had been a successful performance. A little speech from the College’s Principal rounded off a very enjoyable concert.