Recent Productions

Benjamin Britten's Curlew River

St Bartholomew the Great | 9 - 13 Jan 2018 | 8 pm


Animated Trailer for Curlew River by Cecilia Reeve (

Curlew River marked a quilting point in the development of Britten's musical style, paving the way for the 'orientalism' that was to pervade his work right up until his death. Taking his inspiration from Japanese gagaku court theatre and classical Noh drama, which he had encountered during his concert tour of the Far East in 1955, Curlew River emerged as a work poised for the exploration of issues surrounding identity and otherness. Written amidst an international landscape fraught with political tensions and with the threat of destruction lingering on the brink, Curlew River unfolds as a deeply pathetic meditation on pain, loss and, however eventual, acceptance.


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The Madwoman Richard Robbins
The Ferryman Benjamin Bevan
The Traveller Ivo Almond
The Abbot Tom Herring
The Spirit James Bennett

Chorus Tenors
Philip Barrett
Liam Connery
Gethin Lewis

Chorus Baritones
James Edwards
Jevan McAuley
Jonny Venvell

Chorus Basses
Shaun Aquilina
Max Loble


Production Team

Producer / Musical Director Frederick Waxman
Artistic Director Peter Thickett
Set & Costume Designer Crispin Lord
Lighting Designer Edward Saunders
Marketing Manager Thea Waxman


Flute Thomas Sargéaunt
Horn Maude Wolstenholme
Viola Nicholas Hughes
Double Bass Jess Ryan
Harp Tomos Xerri
Percussion Tom Highnam
Chamber Organ Frederick Waxman

 Poster and Programme art by Cecilia Reeve ( )

Poster and Programme art by Cecilia Reeve (


‘It tells, very simply, of a Noblewoman who, driven mad by grief when her son is kidnapped, comes to a ferry. A boat waits to take pilgrims to a miracle-shrine on the further bank, but, because she is mad, the Ferryman refuses to carry her over until her despair moves him and the other pilgrims to feelings of guilt. During the journey he tells of the miraculous happenings at the shrine – the grave of a young child – and the Madwoman recognises her son from the story. At the tomb they are comforted by a vision of the boy and his mother is relieved of her madness.’

- Colin Graham, director of the original production of Curlew River

Production Photographs

Credit to Sam Cornish


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Pre-Performance Talk

Nicholas Riddle, CEO of music publishing house Edition Peters, senior trustee and church warden of St Bartholomew-the-Great, and Britten aficionado, gave a short talk before the final performance of Curlew River, on the 13th of January, in St Bartholomew-the-Less.