Performance Sunday, October 20, 2013 | 7:30 PM

Ian Bostridge
Iestyn Davies
Joshua Hopkins
Julius Drake

Britten: The Canticles

Zankel Hall
Benjamin Britten is usually thought of as a musical dramatist on a large, operatic scale, but the instinct to capture psychological conflict in music burst through in his smaller musical forms as well. Written throughout his career, Britten's five Canticles chart the personal and creative relationship between the revered composer and his most important muse, tenor Peter Pears, drawing on varied subject matter from biblical stories to meditations on love and loss. Renowned tenor Ian Bostridge is joined by countertenor Iestyn Davies, baritone Joshua Hopkins, and pianist Julius Drake to perform the entire sequence of these mysterious pieces, as well as some of his realizations of songs by Henry Purcell, all in celebration of the centenary of Britten’s birth.


  • Ian Bostridge, Tenor
  • Iestyn Davies, Countertenor
  • Joshua Hopkins, Baritone
  • Julius Drake, Piano
  • Leelanee Sterrett, French Horn
  • Bridget Kibbey, Harp


  • PURCELL "If Music be the Food of Love" (arr. Britten)
  • PURCELL "Sweeter than Roses" (arr. Britten)
  • PURCELL "Thou wakeful shepherd" (A morning hymn) (arr. Britten)
  • PURCELL "Turn then Thine Eyes" (arr. Britten)
  • PURCELL "The Queen's Epicedium" (arr. Britten)
  • PURCELL "Not all my Torments can your Pity Move" (arr. Britten)
  • PURCELL " I Take No Pleasure in the Sun’s Bright Beams" (arr. Britten)
  • PURCELL "I'll Sail Upon the Dog Star" (arr. Britten)
  • PURCELL "Full Fathom Five" (arr. Adès)
  • PURCELL "Music for a While" (arr. Tippett)
  • BRITTEN Canticles (complete)

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Ian Bostridge

    Ian Bostridge's international career has included performances at all the world's major concert halls and the Edinburgh, Munich, Vienna, Aldeburgh, Salzburg, and Schubertiade festivals, as well as artistic residencies at the Vienna Konzerthaus, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Philharmonie Luxembourg, the Barbican, Wigmore Hall, and Hamburg's Laeiszhalle.

    In opera, he has performed the roles of Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Jupiter (Semele), and Aschenbach (Death in Venice) at English National Opera; Quint (The Turn of the Screw), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), and Caliban (The Tempest) for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; and Don Ottavio in Vienna and Nerone (L'incoronazione di Poppea), Tom Rakewell (The Rake's Progress), and Male Chorus (The Rape of Lucretia) in Munich. He has also sung Aschenbach in Brussels, Amsterdam, and Luxembourg.

    Mr. Bostridge's award-winning recordings include works by Schubert with Graham Johnson (Gramophone Award, 1996), The Rake's Progress with Sir John Eliot Gardiner (Grammy Award, 1999), works by Schumann with Julius Drake (Gramophone Award, 1998), The Turn of the Screw (Gramophone Award, 2003) and Billy Budd (Grammy Award, 2010) with Daniel Harding, and Thomas Adès's The Tempest (Gramophone Award, 2010). He has also recorded recital programs of Schubert, Wolf, and Britten with Antonio Pappano.

    Mr. Bostridge's concert engagements include appearances with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and New York Philharmonic, under Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Colin Davis, Seiji Ozawa, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Daniel Harding. He has sung Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex with Angelika Kirchschlager and H. K. Gruber in Vienna and the world premiere of Henze's Opfergang with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and under Antonio Pappano.

    For the 2013 Benjamin Britten centenary celebrations, Mr. Bostridge has a major presence worldwide, with appearances at the Aix-en-Provence, Brighton, Aldeburgh, and Salzburg festivals; residencies at Hamburg's Laeiszhalle, Philharmonie Cologne, London's Barbican, Birmingham's Symphony Hall, and the Moscow Conservatory (including the Moscow premiere of Death in Venice under Gennady Rozhdestvensky). He performs in the Berliner Philharmonie on Britten's birth date, and has appearances with the Warsaw Philharmonic and Roberto Abbado, the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Antonio Pappano, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski (in London and at Vienna's Musikverein), and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Andris Nelsons.

    In 2001, Mr. Bostridge was elected an honorary fellow of Corpus Christi College, and in 2003, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Andrews. He was made a Commander in the Order of the British Empire in 2004.

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  • Iestyn Davies

    After graduating in archaeology and anthropology from St. John's College, Cambridge, Iestyn Davies studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He has sung the roles of Creonte in Steffani's Niobe for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Ottone in L'incoronazione di Poppea for Zurich Opera and Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Arsace in Partenope for New York City Opera; Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream for Houston Grand Opera and English National Opera; and Apollo in Death in Venice for English National Opera and in his house debut at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. He has performed at the Metropolitan Opera in Rodelinda and as Trinculo in The Tempest; at Lyric Opera of Chicago in Rinaldo, and at the Munich and Vienna festivals in George Benjamin's Written on Skin.

    In concert, Mr. Davies has performed at the Teatro alla Scala with Gustavo Dudamel; at the Concertgebouw and Zurich's Tonhalle with Ton Koopman; and at the Barbican, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Lincoln Center, and the BBC Proms, including the famous Last Night of the Proms. He enjoys a successful relationship with Wigmore Hall, where he curated his own residency during the 2012-2013 season. His most recent recording is a CD of arias written for Guadagni, released on the Hyperion label.

    Future engagements include returns to the Metropolitan Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Opéra Comique in Paris, English National Opera, and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. 

    He is the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society's 2010 Young Artist of the Year prize, the 2012 Gramophone Recital Award, and the 2013 Critics' Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent.

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  • Joshua Hopkins

    In the 2013-2014 season, Joshua Hopkins's operatic performances include the roles of Marcello in a new production of La bohème at the Canadian Opera Company conducted by Carlo Rizzi and the role of Schaunard in a revival of the beloved Franco Zeffirelli production at the Metropolitan Opera led by Stefano Ranzani. He also makes international debuts at Oper Frankfurt as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and at Washington National Opera as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte conducted by Philippe Auguin. He returns to the Glyndebourne Festival to sing Argante in Handel's Rinaldo after his tremendous success as the Count in Le nozze di Figaro in summer 2013. Concert performances this season include Fauré's Requiem with Bernard Labadie and the Kansas City Symphony, as well as Messiah with the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Ragnar Bohlin and with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jean-Marie Zeitouni. Mr. Hopkins can be seen in recital this season with tenor Paul Appleby under the auspices of the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. 

    Mr. Hopkins's past concert engagements include his European concert debut with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias in Spain, performing Peter Lieberson's poignant Songs of Love and Sorrow, Bach's Magnificat with Orchestra of St. Luke's under the baton of Robert Spano at Carnegie Hall, and Nielsen's Symphony No. 3 as well as Mozart's Mass in C Minor with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Alan Gilbert. Mr. Hopkins has toured North America with Bernard Labadie and Les Violons du Roy, offering performances of Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Handel's Messiah in Quebec, Montreal, Los Angeles, and at Carnegie Hall. He also has performed and recorded Bach's St. John Passion with Portland Baroque Orchestra and Arion Orchestre Baroque.

    Profoundly committed to the art of song, Mr. Hopkins's first recital disc, Let Beauty Awake, was released in 2010 and features songs of Barber, Bowles, Glick, and Vaughan Williams on the ATMA Classique label.

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  • Julius Drake

    Pianist Julius Drake lives in London and specializes in the field of chamber music, working with many of the world's leading artists, both in recital and on disc.

    He appears at all the major music centers: In recent seasons, concerts have taken him to the Aldeburgh, Edinburgh, Munich, Schubertiade, and Salzburg music festivals; as well as to Lincoln Center; Amsterdam's Concertgebouw; Cologne's Philarmonie; Théâtre du Châtelet and Musée de Louvre in Paris; Teatro alla Scala, Milan; Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona; Vienna's Musikverein and Konzerthaus; and Wigmore Hall and the BBC Proms in London.

    Mr. Drake's many recordings include a widely acclaimed series with Gerald Finley for Hyperion, from which albums of Barber songs, Schumann's Heine Lieder, and Britten works have won 2007, 2009, and 2011 Gramophone Awards; award-winning recordings with Ian Bostridge for EMI; and several recitals for the Wigmore Live label with Lorraine Hunt Liebersen, Matthew Polenzani, Joyce DiDonato, and Alice Coote, among others.

    Mr. Drake has now embarked on a major project to record the complete songs of Franz Liszt for Hyperion; the second disc in the series, with mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager, won a 2012 BBC Music Magazine Award.

    Upcoming highlights include a tour of the US and Canada with Gerald Finley; a series of four Schumann concerts at the Concertgebouw; a tour of Japan with Ian Bostridge and Angelika Kirchschlager; recordings with Sarah Connolly and Katarina Karnéus; instrumental chamber music at festivals in Delft, West Cork, and Oxford; recitals in his own series at the historic Middle Temple Hall, London; and to mark 30 years performing at London's Wigmore Hall, a major series entitled Julius Drake: Perspectives.

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  • Leelanee Sterrett

    Leelanee Sterrett joined the New York Philharmonic as assistant principal and utility horn in June 2013. She was previously a member of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and a regular substitute with the New York Philharmonic. Ms. Sterrett is also an alumna of Ensemble ACJW-The Academy, a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education-a collective of young professionals and music advocates.

    A native of northern Michigan, Ms. Sterrett grew up in a musically enthusiastic family and attended Interlochen Arts Academy. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a master's degree from the Yale School of Music. Her primary teachers have included William Purvis, Douglas Hill, and Julie Schleif. Ms. Sterrett has spent summers at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Pacific and Sarasota music festivals, the National Orchestral Institute, and the Banff Centre for the Arts. She is a past prizewinner in the International Horn Competition of America and the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Program.

    Ms. Sterrett is also a member of Genghis Barbie, an all-female horn ensemble that specializes in original arrangements of pop music from the 1970s through today. The group made its Carnegie Hall debut in 2012 as soloists with the New York Youth Symphony and has released four albums. The five members of Genghis Barbie are in high demand not only as performers and educators, but as musical entrepreneurs, and have given numerous concerts and master classes nationwide.

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  • Bridget Kibbey

    Lauded for her virtuosity and diverse projects that broaden the scope of the harp repertoire, Bridget Kibbey is a recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Classical Recording Foundation's 2012 Young Artist of the Year Award, and winner of the Concert Artists Guild's International Competition and the Astral Artist Auditions. Ms. Kibbey's debut album, Love Is Come Again, was named one of 2007's top-10 releases by Time Out New York. She can also be heard on Deutsche Grammophon with Dawn Upshaw on a recording of Osvaldo Golijov's Ayre and Luciano Berio's Folk Songs. This season marks the release of her newest solo album, a collection of harp works that celebrate the rich cultural fabric of the United States, with Dawn Upshaw as special guest. Ms. Kibbey's solo performances have been broadcast on NPR's Performance Today, as well as programs on WQXR, WNYC, WETA, WRTI, and A&E.

    Highlights of Ms. Kibbey's season include the world premiere of a harp concerto by JUNO Award-winning composer Vivian Fung alongside standard concertos with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Karlsruhe Badische Symphoniker, The Phillips Camerata, San José Chamber Orchestra, and Metropolis Ensemble. She returns to the Savannah Music Festival, makes her debut at the Boletas Festival in Brazil, and will be featured with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She also will perform on Rob Kapilow's What Makes it Great?

    Ms. Kibbey has collaborated with Grammy Award-winning producers Robert Sadin and Adam Abeshouse, and her cross-genre collaborators include Brooklyn Rider, Ellie Goulding, The National, David Krakauer, Avi Avital, Patrick Messina, Ara Dinkjian, Jaime Laredo, Edgar Meyer, Mayumi Miyata, Cristina Pato, Sharon Robinson, and David Shifrin.

    Ms. Kibbey is a graduate of The Juilliard School, where she studied with Nancy Allen. She is on the harp faculties of Bard College Conservatory of Music, New York University, and Juilliard's pre-college program.

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Britten's Canticles, "My Beloved is Mine"
Ian Bostridge, Tenor | Julius Drake, Piano
Virgin Classics

At a Glance

Benjamin Britten would have undoubtedly been very pleased that this program in celebration of his centenary should feature not only his own music, but that of Henry Purcell. Throughout his life, he adored this great Baroque master of English song, and his joint recitals with tenor Peter Pears nearly always included a selection of Purcell's songs. Indeed, it was these recitals that stimulated his involvement in creating realizations of the accompaniments to these songs, as well as his concern that in mid-20th century England, "to our shame, the music of Purcell is shockingly unknown." His imaginative accompaniments sought to enhance Purcell's music, in his words, in all its "clarity, brilliance, tenderness, and strangeness."

Britten was as great a setter of poetry as was Purcell. A member of poet W. H. Auden's circle prior to and during World War II, he developed an eclectic taste in poetry, as we will hear in his five Canticles, written over a span of 27 years. The texts for these songs on spiritual subjects range widely from the naïveté of the 15th-century Chester Mystery Plays to the sophistication of T. S. Eliot. What unites them is the tenor voice, originally that of Peter Pears. From Abraham and Isaac—conceived as a dramatic, quasi-operatic scene—to the spare setting for tenor and harp of The Death of Saint Narcissus, they show the evolution of Britten's style from a promising young composer in the 1940s to a gravely ill man facing imminent death in 1974.
Program Notes


Tenor Ian Bostridge on Benjamin Britten

Britten 100
This performance is part of Signatures.

Part of