Britten Sinfonia is a chamber orchestra ensemble based in Cambridge, UK. It was created in 1992, following an initiative from Eastern Arts and a number of key figures including Nicholas Cleobury, who recognised the need for an orchestra in the East of England. It is a flexible ensemble composed of chamber musicians in Europe. The players are freelance musicians who are employed on a project-by-project basis and the ensemble performs around 70 concerts per year and works with hundreds of people in the communities where the orchestra is resident.
It is a not-for-profit organisation, and a registered charity.
"We will inspire people with fresh and exciting performances of great music from Albinoni to Zappa. We aim to appeal to diverse cultural groups both through the work we present and the way we present it. Our approach will be recognised for its integrity, intelligence and, above all, excellence.
The orchestra does not have a principal conductor or artistic director but chooses to work with a range of international guest artists from across the musical spectrum as suited to each particular project.
Recent seasons have included projects with Brad Mehldau, Thomas Adès, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, James MacMillan, Ian Bostridge, Joanna MacGregor, Masaaki Suzuki, Polyphony, director Katie Mitchell, Imogen Cooper, Dhafer Youssef and the Michael Clark Company. For the 2011/12 season, guest artists include Mark Padmore, Sir Mark Elder, Henning Kraggerud, Pekka Kuusisto and Thomas Ades.
Britten Sinfonia performs in concert halls around Europe and Festivals and is a regular at the BBC Proms and has residencies in Cambridge, Norwich, and Brighton with a concert series at Londons Barbican Centre and Wigmore Hall. The ensemble enjoys an international profile, a recent highlight being a tour of South America, and is frequently heard on disc, BBC Radio 3 and commercial radio. The orchestra has received awards including a Gramophone Award and in 2007 won the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Ensemble Award in recognition for its work.
The Creative Learning department of the Sinfonia provides educational support to the mainstream concert season. These activities involve:
- Pre-concert talks
- The SinfoniaCast, a podcast featuring interviews with guest artists and composers
- Projects specifically for young people and schools
- Family Music Days, and
- Music-based training for businesses and corporations.
All of these activities are led by Britten Sinfonias musicians and associated composers and workshop leaders. For audiences of all ages and levels of experience, the Creative Learning programme offers opportunities to meet, talk to and work with performers and composers; discover more about the ensemble's wide-ranging repertoire; and develop new musical knowledge and skills.
Reviews and quotes
'...infused with irresistible energy...cogent and compelling' - The Times 
'Britten Sinfonia has quietly established itself as one of the countries most flexible chamber orchestras' - Evening Standard