Tuesday 9 June 2020

From Grimes on the the Beach to Musicircus: Aldeburgh Festival goes on-line with a celebrations of past festivals

Britten: Peter Grimes staged on Aldeburgh Beach in 2013
Britten: Peter Grimes staged on Aldeburgh Beach in 2013
Like everyone else, the Aldeburgh Festival has had to cancel its planned live events for the 2020 festival, and instead over the period 12 to 28 June 2020, Britten Pears Arts will be offering an on-line celebration of past Aldeburgh Festivals, in collaboration with BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four, part of BBC Arts' Culture in Quarantine.

Highlights will include a showing of the BBC Four documentary Britten on Camera, created for Britten's centenary in 2013 and a film of Struan Leslie's staging of Britten's Les Illuminations from the 2016 festival which features contemporary circus performance alongside soprano Sarah Tynan singing with the Aurora Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas Collon.

But for many people the real highlight of the season will be a showing of the film of Peter Grimes staged by Tim Albery on Aldeburgh beach for Britten's centenary, a stupendous performance conducted by Sir Steuart Bedford, with Alan Oke and Giselle Allan, which harnessed the location and the weather to terrific effect.

Other highlights include the 2014 presentation of John Cage's Musicircus when, for two hours, the festival took over the town. Cage’s concept was to invite anyone to perform anything they want to at the same time. Cage famously said, ‘You won’t hear anything: you’ll hear everything’. The Aldeburgh Festival performance featured around 1,000 performers, from artists and ensembles featured in the Festival to local bands and community music groups – the largest ever gathering of musicians in Aldeburgh with performances all over the town. Audiences can now create and mix their own Musicircus with an interactive digital experience based on the 40 performances that were filmed.

BBC Radio 3 has been recording concerts from the Aldeburgh Festival for 50 years, and the 2020 season will feature six archive recordings from the last decade, featuring John Wilson and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Netia Jones 2017 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in Messiaen and Mahler, Cedric Tiberghian and the Chiaroscuro Quartet, Lionel Meunier and Vox Luminis, and Oliver Knussen conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Britten Pears Arts is also creating an on-line space for people's memories of past festivals, and they hope to capture memories of as many of the 72 festivals as possible.

Full details from the Britten Pears Arts website.

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