Out of the Shadows

Friday, 17 December 2021

41 First performances, 11 first UK performances: 73rd Aldeburgh Festival in June 2022

Oliver Knussen (Photo Mark Allan /BBC)
Oliver Knussen, whose 70th birthday is celebrated at the festival (Photo Mark Allan /BBC)

With the last two festivals cancelled and Tom Coult's new opera Violet (due to be premiered in 2020) still lacking a first performance, the Aldeburgh Festival has announced that the 2022 festival will run for an extra week, from 3 to 26 June 2022. Other contemporary composers at the festival include Bushra El Turk, Gregor Mayrhofer, Ryan Wigglesworth, Oliver Knussen, Mark Simpson, Gavin Higgins, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Owain Park, Dobrinka Tabakova, Aine Mallon, Judith Weir, Hilary Campbell, Omri Kochavi, Laura Bowler, Liza Lim  and the festival features 41 first performances, 11 first UK performances and 19 Britten Pears Arts commissions - the most significant representation of new music in the history of the Aldeburgh Festival.

Composer Tom Coult and librettist Alice Birch's new opera Violet (a first opera for both) will open the festival. Developed at Snape Maltings as part of its Jerwood Opera Writing Programme, it features a heroine, Violet, whose life of routine changes when time quickens, an hour is lost every day, long-held certainties evaporate and ordered society falls into disarray. Andrew Gourlay conducts the London Sinfonietta, with Elizabeth Atherton, Richard Burkard, Frances Gregor and Andrew Mackenzie Wicks, in a production directed by Jude Christian. Other Tom Coult works at the festival include I Find Planets, setting  tweets from a social media account which every hour announces the discovery of a new planet, performed by the Hermes Experiment, and Coult's piano trio, The Chronophage performed by Trio Mazzolini.

Other contemporary composers at the festival include Bushra El-Turk. Her new work for percussion is given its UK premiere by Vivi Vassileva and the Britten Sinfonia, the Adelphi Quartet performs two of El-Turk's quartets, and Ostina-bush-to for solo piano receives its first UK performance played by Clare Hammond. Vivi Vassileva is also the soloist in Gregor A Mayrhofer's Recycling Concerto with the Britten Sinfonia, conducted by the composer.

Ryan Wigglesworth will be conducting the Knussen Chamber Orchestra in a programme that includes the first public performance of Wigglesworth's Five Waltzes, with Lawrence Power (viola), and Britten's Phaedra with Sophie Bevan (soprano). Oliver Knussen would have been 70 in 2022 and Wigglesworth’s tribute to Oliver Knussen for solo cello will be given its first performance by Anssi Karttunnen, and Wigglesworth also conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the first performance of Knussen’s Cleveland Pictures as well as music by Respighi and Mussorgsky and Knussen's Horn Concerto with soloist Martin Owen.

Composer and clarinettist Mark Simpson is joining forces with the Solem Quartet for Simpson's and Mozart's Clarinet Quintets, and Simpson will be joined by friends for his own Geysir and Mozart's Gran Partita. Simpson will join pianist Tom Poster for Simpson's Echoes and Embers, and will feature as clarinettist in Bartok's Contrasts, and Messiaen's Quartet for the End of  Time with Nicola Benedetti (violin), Laura van der Heijden (cello) and Tom Poster (piano).

Gavin Higgins' new cantata The Faerie Bride is premiered by Marta Fontanals-Simmons (mezzo-soprano), Roderick Williams (baritone), BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Martyn Brabbins, and Higgins' string sextet, Ekstasis is premiered by the Piatti Quartet with Sara Roberts (viola) and David Cohen (cello).

Other new music at the festival includes Laura Bowler’s Houses Slide, for soprano Jessica Aszodi and the London Sinfonietta, and the Riot Ensemble in Liza Lim's Extinction events and dawn chorus. Other performers at the festival include Anna Lapwood whose organ recital features her own arrangements of Britten’s Four Sea Interludes and Messiaen’s Vocalise-Etude as well as works by Elgar, Owain Park and Cheryl Frances Hoad. And Lapwood directs the choir of Pembroke College, Cambridge in in performances of music based on plainchant, from composers including Bach, Britten and Dobrinka Tabakova,

The festival is marking HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a visit to Bury St Edmunds Cathedral for a performance by the ORA Singers directed by Suzi Digby, in music from the 16th and 21st centuries including a new piece by Aine Mallon. The BBC Singers conducted by Owain Park perform a collection of short choral pieces by English composers created to celebrate HM The Queen's coronation in 1953, and also sing Britten’s Sacred and Profane, an anthem by Judith Weir, and world premieres by Hilary Campbell and Britten Pears Young Artist, Omri Kochavi,

Full details from the Britten Pears Arts website.

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