From 9-20 February, Britten Sinfonia will be joined by cellist Guy Johnston performing John Tavener’s intensely beautiful modern classic, The Protecting Veil, coinciding with what would have been the composer’s 80th birthday year.
The programme also includes Bartók’s Divertimento and a string orchestra version of Beethoven’s legendary contrapuntal workout for string quartet, the Grosse Fuge.

Johnston and Britten Sinfonia have long and deep relationships with Tavener’s music. Johnston was one of the few cellists to have worked directly with the composer, and he has performed The Protecting Veil several times, notably with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and at a Tavener memorial concert in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. Meanwhile, over the course of three decades Britten Sinfonia gave the world premieres of six works by Tavener, and the orchestra was chosen to perform at his 2014 memorial service in Westminster Abbey.

The composer’s widow, Lady Tavener, writes: “The Protecting Veil took the musical world by storm at its premiere at the 1989 BBC Proms – the breadth of emotion, the extremes of intensity had never been experienced before, breaking musical boundaries with later recording success too. A handful of cellists internationally were able to consult John on how their performance could adapt and take on the challenge of a new sound-world. Guy Johnston was able to absorb John’s vision by this personal contact. He brings that depth and experience with his exquisite playing into 2024 and beyond. I look forward to listening anew to celebrate John’s 80th birthday year. Guy Johnston and the Britten Sinfonia: ideal.”

Performances take place at:
• Norwich Cathedral (Friday 9 February, 7.30pm)
• Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden (Saturday 10 February, 7.30pm)
• Barbican Hall, London (Thursday 15 February, 7.30pm)
• Dublin National Concert Hall (Sunday 18 February, 7.30pm)
• Bridgewater Hall, Manchester (Tuesday 20 February, 7.30pm)