Celebrating Benjamin Britten:
A series of lectures by James Conlon and a conference at UCLA
in honor of Britten’s 100th anniversary


In honor of the British composer Benjamin Britten’s birth in 1913, “Britten 100” celebrations are being organized all over the world, including the “Britten 100 in NYC” and the “Britten 100/LA” festivals, which will include hundreds of concerts and other events.  LA Opera is in the midst of a three year Britten cycle, which will conclude with their performances of Billy Budd in February 2014.  In conjunction with the opening of Billy Budd, Robert Fink (Department of Musicology), Efrain Kristal (Departments of Comparative Literature and Spanish and Portuguese), and Kenneth Reinhard (Departments of English and Comparative Literature) are organizing a conference on “Benjamin Britten and Literature” at UCLA on Feb. 20 and 21, 2014.  Maestro James Conlon of LA Opera has agreed to present a keynote address for the conference on Thursday, Feb. 20, and also to deliver two other talks on Britten at UCLA as a prelude to the conference on Feb. 6 and 13.  This aspect of the conference  will continue to deepen UCLA’s relationship with LA Opera and Maestro Conlon after his very successful Regents’ Lectures and Master Class at UCLA last year.  The conference will feature distinguished musicologists and literary scholars from Europe and the US who will present talks aimed at both a scholarly and general audience on operas by Britten including Billy Budd, Death in Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Peter Grimes, and The Turn of the Screw, as well as Britten’s settings of literary works.  The conference will involve four talks each day, with the keynote by James Conlon concluding the first day.  We anticipate that the conference will be of great interest to our colleagues, undergraduate and graduate students in Music, Ethnomusicology, Musicology, Comparative Literature, English, European Studies, Gay and Lesbian Studies, and to the general public in Los Angeles.  Moreover, Professor Reinhard will offer an undergraduate seminar in “Britten and Literature” in Winter Quarter 2014, and the students in the class will attend Maestro Conlon’s lectures, a rehearsal of Billy Budd at LA Opera, and the conference.  Graduate students from Musicology, English, and Comparative Literature will also attend the conference and the rehearsal.

The conference will feature distinguished Britten scholars, both younger and more established, including Ryan Minor (Stonybrook), Christopher Chowrimootoo (Notre Dame), Heather Wiebe (King's College London), Arman Schwartz (Birmingham), Jonathan Neufeld (the College of Charleston), Mitchell Morris (UCLA), and Seth Brodsky (Chicago).   

The conference is sponsored by the UCLA Departments of Musicology and Comparative Literature, the RU Nelson Fund, The Friends of English, The Center for European and Eurasian Studies, the Program in Experimental Critical Theory, the Division of Humanities, and LA Opera.

Benjamin Britten’s Operas:

A Series of Three Lectures by Maestro James Conlon at UCLA

in Honor of Britten’s 100th Anniversary

    1)Thurs. Feb. 6 at 7:00 (Royce 314)

Peter Grimes; Gloriana

    2)Thurs. Feb. 13 at 7:00 (Royce 314)

The Turn of the Screw; A Midsummer Night’s Dream

    3)Thurs. Feb. 20 at 5:00 (Young Research Library 11360)

Owen Wingrave; Death in Venice



Benjamin Britten and Literature: A Conference at UCLA

Thursday, Feb. 20  (Young Research Library 11360)

1:00 Christopher Chowrimootoo (Notre Dame University) 

The Turn of the Screw, or: the Gothic Melodrama of Modernism”

2:00 Arman Schwartz (University of Birmingham)

“Britten without James”

3:00 Ryan Minor (SUNY Stonybrook) 

“Songs and Space in Billy Budd

5:00 Maestro James Conlon

Friday, Feb. 21  (Popper Auditorium, Schoenberg Hall)

1:00 Jonathan Neufeld (The College of Charleston) 

“’So much is confusion!’ Britten and the public role of expressive ambiguity”

2:00 Heather Wiebe (King’s College London)

“Discovering America: From Paul Bunyan to Peter Grimes

3:30 Seth Brodsky (University of Chicago)

“Repeating, Remembering, Passacaglia: ‘Weak’ Britten”

4:30 Mitchell Morris (UCLA)

“Britten’s Middle Ways: Aesthetics of Belief in ‘The Holy Sonnets of John Donne’”


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