Ireland and the Festival of Britain

In 1951 the Festival of Britain saw the country ‘filled with music’ on a huge scale. The music critic for the Times compiled a record of what went on during that summer. Not surprisingly, there was much music by Britten. There was also a flurry of performances of Ireland’s works as outlined below:

11 May

Boult conducted the LPO in A London Overture in the first ‘festival concert’.

15 May

Ireland accompanied Peter Pears in The Land of Lost Content at the Wigmore Hall, described thus: ‘Mr. Pears’s clear, smooth vocal and artistic conviction joined with the composer’s own vividly evocative pianism to result in a memorable performance’. In the same concert the two also performed Songs Sacred and Profane.

16 May

Frederick Thurston played the Fantasy-Sonata at the London Contemporary Music Centre

28 May

Sargent conducted the LSO in the Piano Concerto, with Eileen Joyce as soloist, in a programme that also included Bax, Delius and Walton.

4 June

These Things Shall Be was performed at the Albert Hall by massed choirs, bringing together 165 choirs from the Federation of Music Societies.

25 June

Boyd Neel conducted his orchestra in Concertino Pastorale at the Wigmore Hall.

28 June

A London Overture was again featured, this time in the Norwich Triennial Festival, with Sargent and the LSO.

Source: Musical Britain 1951, Oxford University Press.

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