TALENTED youngsters were in fine voice to launch an ambitious singing project that will mark the 100th birthday of one of the 20th century’s greatest composers.

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Aldeburgh Music is hoping thousands of young people from across the globe will join together to celebrate Benjamin Britten’s centenary.

Yesterday it officially launched its Friday Afternoons project – which aims to get more than 100,000 young people to sing the composer’s work.

It will culminate with youngsters singing Britten’s Friday Afternoons songs on his 100th birthday – Friday, November 22, 2013.

Young people from Bramfield Primary School, St Pancras Primary School, St James Middle School, Farlingaye High School and Vocini – the Suffolk County Chamber Ensemble – launched the project at Snape Maltings yesterday with a special concert.

Britten, who was born in Lowestoft, lived at The Red House in Aldeburgh for much of his life.

Friday Afternoons is a cycle of 12 songs he composed for the school in north Wales where his brother, Robert, was headmaster.

Britten’s nephews, Alan, 74, and John, 80, who attended the school when he was six, were at Snape Maltings yesterday for the launch.

Alan said: “I think the project is an absolutely perfect way to mark the centenary.

“My father, Robert, always dedicated Friday afternoons to music and Benjamin decided he would dedicate his Friday Afternoons series to the children at the school.”

Aldeburgh Music is planning a year of celebrations of Britten’s life, centred on Suffolk’s landscape and community.

Its chief executive, Jonathan Reekie, said: “We have got an amazing year ahead. A lot of people don’t realise that Britten is a huge international figure – there are events planned in Palestine, Rio de Janeiro and Beijing.

“The centenary will be a great opportunity for people to come into contact with Britten and his music. Friday Afternoons will be the biggest part of that.

“We don’t know how many young people are taking part – we will have to wait until November 22 next year – but we imagine it will be hundreds of groups both nationally and internationally.

“The series is being performed in special arrangements and they are wonderful pieces that the children will enjoy singing. A very important part of Britten was his idea that a composer should play a positive and active role in the local community. He wrote lots of pieces for young people.”

Any groups that would like to take part in the Friday Afternoons project can visit www.fridayafternoonsmusic.co.uk.

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