The Aldeburgh Festival 2016 programme has been announced – a 17-day celebration of music and arts with circus, birds and pianos at its heart.
The Festival centrepiece is Catalogue d’Oiseaux (Sunday 19 June), a marathon journey through music and nature from sunrise to midnight.
Aldeburgh Festival Artistic Director Pierre-Laurent Aimard performs Olivier Messiaen’s huge work for piano over four concerts, set against the panoramic backdrops and teeming wildlife of Snape Maltings and RSPB Minsmere.
Birdsong fascinated French composer Olivier Messiaen all his life and Catalogue d’Oiseaux is his largest work inspired by birds, a 150-minute piece for solo piano which creates a rich musical language from the depictions of 77 species of bird that Messiaen heard in his native Camargue region of south-west France.
One of the world’s leading interpreters of Messiaen’s piano music, Pierre-Laurent Aimard creates a day that animates the piece as never before. Hear the birds evoked by the piano alongside the myriad real birds of the Suffolk coast amidst the region’s unspoilt expanses of reedbeds, marshy waters and sky.
The day starts with at Snape Maltings with a view of sunrise over the River Alde, the climax will be a FREE concert outdoors on the BBC Springwatch stage at RSPB Minsmere, and the finale will see the audience back at Snape near midnight, seated on the concert hall floor in almost total darkness.
The Festival opens with Illuminations (Friday 10th, Sunday 12th and Monday 13th June), the premiere of a new staged work for singer, string orchestra and circus performers. Inspired by the surrealism of Rimbaud’s poetry set in Britten’s song cycle Les Illuminations, director Struan Leslie creates a newly-commissioned staging fusing music and contemporary circus performance.
Soprano Sarah Tynan joins an ensemble of international circus performers, Aurora Orchestra and conductor Nicholas Collon in a 75-minute devised piece which includes Britten’s Les Illuminations and Young Apollo, Debussy’s String Quartet and music from John Adams’ Shaker Loops.
The final weekend of the Festival (24th to 26th June) will be a huge celebration of the piano. Pierre-Laurent Aimard assembles an array of pianists, from visiting international stars to outstanding young musicians from East Anglia – and possibly you if you’re willing to sign up to the Grade 1 Challenge!
Aldeburgh Music and the Britten-Pears Foundation invite anyone of any age who is interested in starting to learn the piano to sign up to the Grade 1 Challenge at www.aldeburgh.co.uk/gradeone to receive support over the next six months, with the chance to book practice rooms at Snape Maltings, attend tutorials and access a host of useful information on piano teachers, repertoire, exam boards and more. Participants will have the opportunity to make their Aldeburgh Festival debut on the main stage at Snape Maltings Concert Hall in the Festival finale!
There are many more threads to follow through the Festival:
The remarkable French orchestra Les Siècles visit for a four-concert residency, playing music from the 17th century to the 20th on different sets of instruments contemporary with each of the periods. Audience members will have the chance to recreate the soundworlds the music’s first audiences would have heard, and also chart the changing fashions of musical instrument making.
There will also be a thrilling series exploring the explosion of creativity during the years of the First World War (17th and 24th June), a triptych of concerts juxtaposing the music of Benjamin Britten and Michael Tippett (16th to 20th June), five concerts centred on Bach, an exploration of this year’s featured composers Julian Anderson, Benedict Mason and Rebecca Saunders, an introduction to the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle tradition, a Festival Organ Crawl on a vintage bus and a 21st-century meditation on a 16th-century sculpture garden from Solomon’s Knot and Mira Calix.
Further musical highlights include John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir, Emanuel Ax, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ian Bostridge, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Thomas Zehetmair, while Festival exhibitions feature visual artists Justin Partyka and Helen Napper.
There will also be walks, talks and films, the 30+ non-classical events at The Pumphouse fringe (weekends during the Festival, programme to be announced in April), and free music every lunchtime on the Bandstand on the Beach (programme to be announced in June).
To see the full Aldeburgh Festival 2016 programme, visit www.aldeburgh.co.uk