Aldeburgh Festival

The Aldeburgh Festival 2017 programme has been announced, with more than 50 events in the main programme over 17 packed days in June, plus another 30 non-classical events in the fringe venue The Pumphouse to be announced in April.

One of the earliest conversions of a former industrial building for arts use, Snape Maltings Concert Hall was opened in 1967. Aldeburgh Festival 2017 will be a celebration of the 50th anniversary of music’s arrival at Snape, marked at a time when significant further development of the site is being planned.

This year, alongside events in concert halls and churches, the Festival invites audiences to join an intimate, theatrical drinks party at a country house in La Voix Humaine, relax in a rowing boat at Music on the Meare, and experience a symphony in a surprising urban setting in Multi-Story Orchestra.

Festival highlights include:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (9, 11, 12 & 14 June)

At the 1967 festival, seven years after the work’s premiere, Britten chose his opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream to celebrate the newly opened Snape Maltings Concert Hall. The 2017 festival opens with a new production, directed and designed by Netia Jones, described by The Observer as ‘the most imaginative director of opera working in Britain today’. Conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth, the production features a cast of internationally renowned singers including Iestyn Davies (Oberon), Sophie Bevan (Tytania), Matthew Rose (Bottom), Clive Bayley (Theseus) and Andrew Shore (Quince).

Bill Fontana: Acoustic Visions – Snape Maltings (9 – 25 June)

50 years since the arrival of music on the site, pioneering sound artist Bill Fontana, who has previously created site-specific works for iconic locations including the San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and the Arc d’Triomphe in Paris, creates a newly commissioned installation which opens our ears to the other sides of Snape Maltings’ heritage – from echoes of its industrial past to the timeless rhythms of its natural environment.

Billy Budd (24 & 25 June)

Never previously performed at Snape Maltings, Britten’s 1951 opera is conducted by Garry Walker in the company of Opera North’s acclaimed 2016 production in a specially-devised concert staging. Three outstanding British singers – Roderick Williams, Alastair Miles and Alan Oke – take the three central roles of Billy, Claggart and the guilt-stricken Captain Vere.

Hommage à Klaus Nomi (10 June)

Countertenor Andrew Watts and the London Sinfonietta perform Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth’s homage to the German singer, showman and countercultural hero – an anarchic, neon-lit encounter between Purcell, Weimar cabaret, bubblegum pop and The Wizard of Oz.

La Voix Humaine (15, 16 & 17 June)

A moving operatic experience in a mystery country house location… You are invited to a special, intimate drinks party in a country house near Snape. The host, Elle, is on the phone to her lover. It seems that their relationship is over. The party and the phone call continue simultaneously. Transferred to a domestic environment in a production devised by David Poutney, Poulenc’s moving setting of Jean Cocteau’s monodrama is music theatre at its most vivid and intense.

Meeting of Angels (15 June)

World-renowned sitar master Nishat Khan explores his belief that modal Indian classical music holds a special affinity with the ancient plainchant tradition of the Christian church, performing with one of Europe’s finest and most distinctive choirs, the Saint Ephraim Male Choir of Budapest. Blythburgh Church’s own angels look down on a special meeting of musical traditions.

Saint Ephraim Male Choir (16 June)

Saint Ephraim Male Choir’s second concert programme is rooted in a particular tradition. In the spectacular surroundings of Blythburgh Church, the choir rediscovers central European folksong by Bartók and Kodály. They go on to explore this folksong tradition’s modern blossoming in Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, to include works written specifically for this group. Vital, inventive music performed with striking virtuosity and flair.

Nishat Khan: Indian raags at Orford Church (17 June)

Raags, the melodic backbone of Indian classical music, respond to and express every aspect of their environment: the atmosphere, the light, the location, and the shifting patterns of day and night. Through the course of a single day, sitar virtuoso Nishat Khan brings this tradition alive in the atmospheric sacred space of Orford Church. Starting at 8am, he creates music for each season of the day: a Suffolk summer morning, the point at which afternoon starts to tilt towards evening, and finally, late into the night, as the cycle of the day approaches its end and its renewal.

Kloing! and Liszt Night Inspection (21 June)

In the course of an evening Marino Formenti presents two piano recitals that turn our expectations of this most traditional of formats on their heads. In the first, he is the protagonist in composer Olga Neuwirth’s tragicomic duel between a pianist and an out of control computer-controlled instrument. Later at night, the piano is in the centre of the darkened auditorium, the performer in our midst. Cushions and mattresses are available to sit on as close as we want. Paring Liszt with gypsy music and works by Berio, John Adams and Brian Eno, Marino Formenti’s programme sheds new light on all facets of the Hungarian pianist-composer’s musical personality, from the poetic and the spiritual to the daringly innovative.

Music on the Meare (21 June)

Join us for a short indoor concert at Aldeburgh’s Jubilee Hall, followed by a vintage bus journey to the water of Thorpeness Meare, where you can relax in a rowing boat to hear a magical moment in Aldeburgh Festival heritage recreated.

Multi-Story Orchestra (24 June)

The dynamic young orchestra return to the Aldeburgh Festival to perform two short concerts in an unusual location in central Ipswich.

Visual Arts

Exhibitions includes Maggi Hambling’s Walls of Water and composer Freya Waley-Cohen’s installation Permutations, created in collaboration with architectural designers Andrew Skulina and Finbarr O’Dempsey and inviting audiences to explore the powerful relationship between architecture and music. There will also be an exhibition documenting the conception and creation of Snape Maltings Concert Hall 50 years ago, and exhibitions at The Red House on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Billy Budd, and Homosexuality in Britten’s Britain.

The Pumphouse and the Bandstand on the Beach

The line-up for the 30+ non-classical events of The Pumphouse fringe will be announced in April. There will also be free music every lunchtime and on Midsummer’s evening (21 June) during the Aldeburgh Festival at the Bandstand on the Beach, with the line-up announced in June.