Lowestoft school to mark Benjamin Britten’s centenary

PUBLISHED: 15:02 05 January 2013

Students from the Benjamin Britten High School work on a project with The Britten Pears Foundation.

Students from the Benjamin Britten High School work on a project with The Britten Pears Foundation.

Archant © 2012

A global celebration of one of Lowestoft’s most famous sons is getting under way.

Britten 100 has been launched to recognise the internationally-renowned composer Benjamin Britten and his work as part of a year of events marking the centenary of his birth.

And in Lowestoft – where he was born on November 22, 1913 – a series of artworks inspired by his music are being created by more then 200 students at the high school that bears his name.

These will form part of local history displays around the town including 50 colourful banners that will run along the seafront to create a Britten Prom, stretching from the East Point Pavilion all the way to Kirkley Cliff Road and Britten House – the property where he was born, and which was his family’s home for 21 years.

And from Easter, the Princess Royal fountains on the promenade will feature a sound and light show which will include music that the young Britten would have written at his family home.

Since September, teachers Alex Sweetman and Jerrie Poole, of Benjamin Britten High, have been meeting and liaising with representatives of the Britten-Pears Foundation, which has been organising the centenary.

Mrs Poole said: “We’ve been planning it all for about three months. We’ve already done a lot of stuff, including looking at designs for pottery by Clarice Cliff [the renowed Art Deco ceramics designer] and art nouveau-style drawings. The children are really getting into it.”

The ideas for the artworks include one which seeks to highlight Britten’s local links by creating scales from his music and placing them onto herring, to signify the town and its fishing industry. As well as learning about the composer and his life, and listening to his music, year seven pupils at Benjamin Britten High have been painting, using computers, ICT and expressive arts in the classroom to devise their artwork as part of their CBC – competency-based curriculum – studies.

Mrs Poole added: “They’ve really embraced it all and really got into the project. The children are wanting to know more about his life. We have had full access to the Britten Pears Foundation’s archives, and they have been very helpful.”

Events are taking place across the world as part of Britten 100, with the celebrations running until August 2014. A number of concerts have been organised and the composer’s old home at the Red House in Aldeburgh – which acts as an archive for his work – will also be hosting a number of activities and exhibitions.

Delighted with how the project at the high school has been progressing, Chris Milton, of the Britten-Pears Foundation, said: “This is going to be a massive project in Lowestoft. It is a national celebration and these kids at Benjamin Britten High are producing artwork that will reflect Britten and his music.”

For more information on the Britten 100 celebrations, visit

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