Almost 50 years after Benjamin Britten’s final performance at Gresham’s in Holt, the School is recreating the event with an evening of music on the same stage that the great musician performed on.
The year was 1964 when headmaster of the time, Logie Bruce-Lockhart, succeeded in inviting Benjamin Britten and his partner Peter Pears to give a recital to the boys of Gresham’s. Britten himself left the school in 1930 to attend the Royal College of Music, and despite remaining in contact with the school (arranging a place for his protégé David Hemmings and contributing a song to the school’s quadricentennial magazine in 1955), had never actually returned to perform.
Bruce-Lockhart remembers that; “Although it was relatively remote from my study, his (Pears’) practising of scales and the clarity of his words made a great impression on the usual queue of boys outside my study and our guests in the drawing room.”
The concert itself took place on the stage of Big School and was a programme of songs by Purcell, Handel, Schubert and Winter Words by Britten. He also took the opportunity to talk to the assembled audience to share his memories of playing for school prayers and being told to get his hair cut!
Gresham’s recreates this concert on the very same stage that Britten and Pears performed on, and already many Old-Boys of the school who remember the 1964 event have decided to come back for a trip down memory lane. The piano however will not be the original piano, but instead will be the inaugural performance on the new Steinway model B grand piano that recently arrived as part of Gresham’s All-Steinway School status.
Playing the part of Peter Pears will be the tenor Thomas Hobbs. A recipient of the Peter Pears Scholarship at the Royal College of Music, Thomas Hobbs has performed and recorded with many leading ensembles including The Cardinall’s Musick, The Tallis Scholars, I Fagiolini, Consortium, The Sixteen, Polyphony, Ensemble Plus Ultra and Ex-Cathedra. Director of music at Gresham’s Senior School, Mark Jones – also a graduate of the Royal College of Music, will accompany him.
Tickets for this unique event will be held on Friday 31st May at 7.30pm in Big School, Gresham’s. Tickets are £12 and are available from the Auden Theatre Box Office, 01263 713444 or via email@example.com. For further information contact Fiona Ross, music administrator on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01263 714626.
Gresham’s is a co-educational day and boarding school for children aged 3-18, Open Day is on Monday 6th May. “