Monday 12 February 2018

Britten, Bernstein, America and The Invisible: Aldeburgh 2018

Leonard Bernstein
The centrepiece of this year's Aldeburgh Festival, which runs from 8 to 24 June 2018 is the premiere of Emily Howard's opera To See The Invisible. Based on a short story by Robert Silverberg with libretto by Selma Dimitrijevic, the opera is a study of isolation based on the story of The Invisible who is cast adrift from society. The production is directed by Dan Ayling and conducted by Richard Baker with a cast including Nicholas Morris, Anna Dennis and Anne Mason. Emily Howard's orchestral work Magnetite is featured in the BBC National Orchestra of Wales' concert with conductor Mark Wigglesworth when violinist Vilda Frang will be the soloist in Britten's Violin Concerto.

A theme running through the festival is Britten, Bernstein and America with concerts by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Wilson (who is Artist Residence) and by Oliver Knussen featuring music from Britten's wartime experiences in America including the Sinfonia da Requiem alongside music by Bernstein and his contemporaries, including Copland's Appalachian Spring. And there will also be music by Morton Feldman, plus the premiere of Philip Cashian's The Book of Ingenious Devices with Huw Watkins (piano). Feldman crops up again when Ensemble Vide perform Feldman's For Philip Custon at Sunrise!. Oliver Knussen conducts the Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble in a programme which mixes Feldman and Stravinsky with Debussy and Birtwistle.

There are strong links between Britten and Bernstein even though, interestingly, they very rarely met. John Wilson will also be conducting his own orchestra in excerpts from a number of Bernstein's Broadway shows from the wildly successful West Side Story to the flop 1600 Pennsylvania Avenua. As part of her piano recital Tamara Stefanovich will be playing Copland's Piano Variations and Ives' Sonata No. 1. The Sixteen's concert with Harry Christophers will feature Copland's In the Beginning alongside music by Britten and his British forbears, and Ben Parry conducts Aldeburgh Voices in Bernstein's Chichester Psalms plus music by Britten, Finzi and Walton.

Lucy Schaufer soprano, Marcus Farnsworth, baritone, and pianists Christopher Glynn and Lana Bode will be performing Britten's Cabaret Songs along with Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles, plus music by John Musto, Michele Brourman, and Randy Newman.

Look back to earlier repertoire, visitors to the festival include Fretwork, Herve Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel. Other Artists in Residence are violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and she has programmed the final days of the festival with the Ojai Music Festival where she is the 2018 Music Director, the beginning of a developing partnership with the Ojai Music Festival, and flautist Clare Chase. This year's featured composers are Michael Hersch and Simon Holt.

Full details from the Aldeburgh Festival website.

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