Second ‘Festival of New’ presents two days of freshly devised music all composed during Snape Maltings’ residencies
Britten Weekend explores the musical links between Britten and Russia during the Cold War
English Touring Opera present two plays-with-music from Mozart and Weill
Celebrate Christmas with festive concerts, walks and shopping
Snape Maltings is one of the world’s leading centres of music hosting outstanding concerts and events throughout the year, from the flagship Aldeburgh Festival – one of the world’s most significant classical festivals – to the broad range of music (including folk, world music and jazz) at the Snape Proms. Its reputation as a leading international creative campus including research, experimentation and development continues to grow.
Festival of New, Friday 6 & Saturday 7 September
One of Snape Maltings’ key commitments is to facilitate the development of new and innovative works, and the Festival of New is a showcase of some of the most exciting sounds currently being made in the UK. Some projects are ready to take flight, while others are just beginning to take shape. All have been created at Snape during residencies that take place all year round. It gives artists the freedom to take risks, be ambitious and release their creative spirit.
Events range from Voicescolourmotion, an interactive sound and light installation designed to transform any space into an instrument to Tin Men’s experimental jazz shaped by smartphones. The weekend also features projects from director, singer & puppeteer Yael Rasooly and pianist Amit Dolberg, who collaborate on a requiem to the lost naïve world of a child via a mix of live and pre-recorded sound, as well as urban poet Reload. Sarah Nicolls performs on an inside out piano alongside cellist Maja Bugge to focus on environmental issues whilst composer Laurie Tompkins pens an uneasy love letter to TV culture in Fat Controller, with visual artist Joel Wycherley and vocalist Jessica Hickie-Kallenbach. Co-composers, multi-instrumentalists and academics Shama Rahman and Anya Yermakova present the initial results of their project to create a sitar concerto informed by neuroscience. ECM Records pianist, organist and composer Kit Downes performs his new jazz project and Firefly Burning also perform their new album Breathe Shallow. Closing the festival, folk singer Sam Lee explores the power of ancient folk songs.
Britten Weekend, Friday 18 – Sunday 20 October
Britten’s first encounter with Shostakovich and Rostropovich in September 1960 was the beginning of two enduring friendships. These led to Britten embracing instrumental chamber music, had a profound influence on the Aldeburgh Festival and created significant cultural links across the Iron Curtain at one of the tensest periods of the Cold War. The Britten Weekend recreates that 1960 concert and celebrates Britten, the cello, Russia and his Russian friends in the company of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and outstanding chamber musicians and soloists.
Soprano Julia Sitkovetsky, cellist Alban Gerhardt and pianist Roger Vignoles open the weekend (18 Oct, 8pm), with Britten’s poignant Pushkin settings set alongside Shostakovich’s Hebrew Songs. More direct comparison between Britten and Shostakovich is possible as Gerhardt and Vignoles play each composer’s cello sonatas. Britten’s solo cello works are dedicated to Rostropovich and encapsulate a world of fluctuating emotional states. Gerhardt and Vignoles perform Nos 1 & 3 alongside Prokofiev’s Five Poems of Anna Akhmatova and Rachmaninov’s Six Songs, sung by Sikovetsky (19 Oct, 11am). Gerhardt performs Britten’s quasi-concerto with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, which Rostropovich encouraged him to write: a big-hearted and intense work which places immense demands on the soloist. Conductor Jac van Steen leads the orchestra through Shostakovich’s Symphony No 10, a similarly epic composition which starts in dark desolation and ends in dazzling brightness (19 Oct, 7:30pm). The weekend concludes with the recreation of the 1960 London concert at which Britten was first introduced to future friends Rostropovich and Shostakovich: a concert that was to have far-reaching consequences. BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by van Steen are joined by cellist Laura van der Heijden for Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto which is bookended by Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 3 (20 Oct, 3pm).
English Touring Opera, Friday 25 – Saturday 26 October
This autumn ETO presents two plays-with-music: Mozart’s light comedy The Seraglio and Weill’s The Silver Lake – A Winter’s Tale. Mozart was conscious of his Viennese audience’s fascination with all things eastern in The Seraglio. Conducted by John Andrews and directed by Stephen Medcalf, the singspiel has some of Mozart’s most passionate, difficult and wittiest music (25 October, 7:30pm). Kurt Weill’s The Silver Lake – A Winter’s Tale is laced with his deep social convictions. This was his last work in Germany and was written in collaboration with poetic playwright Georg Kaiser. It was shut down by the Nazi authorities in 1933 and left unperformed for many years: for many it is his masterpiece (26 October, 7:30pm).
Richard Alston Dance Company: Final Edition, Friday 1 – Saturday 2 November
As it celebrates the tenth year of the Jerwood DanceHouse, DanceEast presents Richard Alston Dance Company’s fifth visit to Snape Maltings as part of the company’s final tour – a significant moment for dance in the UK. Snape Maltings and the music of Benjamin Britten have long been important to Alston’s and for RADC’s final appearance in Suffolk, the company gives the world premiere of his new piece Shine On, danced to a live performance by soprano Katherine McIndoe and pianist Jason Ridgway of Britten’s first published songs, the W.H Auden settings On This Island. Ridgeway also plays for Brahms Hungarian, danced to Brahms’ hugely popular Hungarian Dances. This special programme for Snape also includes Voices and Light Footsteps, inspired by Monteverdi madrigals and sinfonias while the pulsating music of American composer Michael Gordon accompanies Martin Lawrence’s thrillingly energetic Detour.
Christmas at Snape
The grandeur and unbridled joy of the start of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio is one of the great openings in music, and tells the story of the nativity in six cantatas, of which four are performed (20 Dec, 7.30pm). The BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Barry Wordsworth perform the music from Act II of Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker before Soprano Susan Gritton takes centre stage for more Christmas music and a fantasy on the best-loved carols (Sat 21 Dec, 7:30pm). Bring the whole family to experience the magic of The Snowman on the big screen with music performed live by The Suffolk Ensemble, conducted by Ben Parry. Roald Dahl’s adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood is narrated by Radio 4’s Zeb Soanes in Paul Patterson’s charming orchestral piece for children (Sun 22 Dec, 1:30pm & 4pm).