Facing the Music: 20th-Century Portraits of British Composers

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
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Friday 25th May (10:00) - Tuesday 28th August 2012 (17:00)
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For more information contact the Barber on 0121 414 7333 or visit www.barber.org.uk

Barry Marsden, James Loy MacMillan, 1994. © Barry Marsden/National Portrait Gallery

20th-Century Portraits of British Composers
25 May – 28 August
Lady Barber Gallery

Admission FREE

Art and music have always dwelt in harmony at the Barber Institute, bringing extra appeal to this exhibition of works lent by the National Portrait Gallery – the first in a prestigious series of partnership shows at the Barber.

Indeed, Edward Elgar was the University of Birmingham’s first Professor of Music, a position later filled by Granville Bantock. Delius, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Birtwistle and Adès are some of the other leading lights of 20th-century British musical composition celebrated in this show by a group of artists no less significant. The exhibition features paintings and photographs by John Singer Sargent, Christopher Wood, Cecil Beaton, David Hockney and Tom Phillips, among others.

The images of the composers will be supplemented by remarkable original or annotated scores, and diaries, letters and other personal items relating to them, drawn from the University’s own Special Collections. This exhibition is co-curated with postgraduate History of Art students from the University of Birmingham. The postgraduates have also embraced social media to give a behind-the-scenes look at putting this exhibition together. Please feel free to visit and explore their exhibition-specific blogFacebook and Pinterest pages or their Twitter feed.


Tuesday 29 May, 1.15pm

Wednesdays, 30 May, 6, 13, 20 & 27 June and 4 & 11 July, 1.10pm 

Saturdays and Sundays, 23 – 24 June, 30 June – 1 July and 7 – 8 & Saturday 14 July, 11am – 4pm


The accompanying events below are part of the Summer Festival of Music, which has been running at the University of Birmingham for over 20 years. It is a week-long festival organised by students to create music-making opportunities for performers from across the University and the wider community. Find out more at www.summerfestivalofmusic.org  

Summer Festival Opera
Paul Bunyan by Benjamin Britten
Friday 8 June, 7pm
Saturday 9 June, 3pm
Sunday 10 June, 6pm
A fun and fascinating operetta based on the North American folk legend of Paul Bunyan, the giant lumberjack! Standing as tall as the Empire State Building, this behemoth of a man chopped his way across a newly founded America and into the hearts of its citizens. Paul Bunyan entertains adults and children alike, combining Britten’s beautiful music, which features folksongs, hymns and blues, with libretto by W.H. Auden. Come and see some of the University's most talented performers in this summer’s gigantic musical adventure!
The Barber Concert Hall
Tickets: £15, £10 Over 60s/Concessions, £8 Friends, £5 students. Tickets are available in person from the Barber reception desk or by telephone on 0121 414 7333.

Summer Festival Sinfonia
Friday 15 June, 1pm
Sophie Williamson rounds off the 2012 Summer Festival of Music conducting this popular ensemble in a concert featuring Benjamin Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings along with other 20th-century works.
Sophie Williamson conductor
Alex Aldren tenor
Sam Walker horn
The Barber Concert Hall

For more information about music events at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, click here.