Aldeburgh Festival 2018 celebrates Britten, America and the centenary of Leonard Bernstein
World Premiere of Emily Howard’s new opera To See The Invisible on the opening weekend
Artists in Residence: violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, conductor John Wilson and flautist Claire Chase
Aldeburgh Festival commission and world premiere of Colin Matthews’ orchestration of Britten’s Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo
15 world premieres including works by featured composers Michael Hersch and Simon Holt alongside new pieces by Philip Cashian and Sir Harrison Birtwistle
The Aldeburgh Festival returns to Ely Cathedral for the first time in over 50 years for an eight-choir mass setting performed by Le Concert Spirituel and Hervé Niquet
Sir Bryn Terfel makes his Aldeburgh Festival debut on the final weekend
BBC Radio 3 broadcasts eight concerts from the festival including the opening concert live
The 2018 Aldeburgh Festival takes place from 8-24 June featuring Artists in Residence including violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, conductor John Wilson and flautist Claire Chase who have each curated parts of the festival. 2018 is the 70th anniversary of the festival and the year of its launch – 1948 – is marked in a number of events.
Britten and America
An overarching theme throughout the 2018 festival celebrates Britten and America as well as the centenary of Leonard Bernstein. Britten and Bernstein were both composers, pianists, conductors, programme planners, educators, major media figures and towering creative leaders, and are linked but rarely met each other. They sailed against prevailing winds, were celebrated and revered everywhere, and now they can be heard side by side with many connections that resonate across the festival. These links include Peter Grimes, W.H. Auden, Revd Walter Hussey and their composing friend Aaron Copland.
World Premiere of Emily Howard’s To See The Invisible
Emily Howard’s new opera To See The Invisible is based on a short story by renowned American sci-fi writer Robert Silverberg with words by Selma Dimitrijevic and directed by Dan Ayling. The creative team developed the opera on a research and development residency at Snape Maltings. An Aldeburgh Festival commission and world premiere, the opera is conducted by Richard Baker, with a cast including baritone Nicholas Morris (The Invisible), soprano Anna Dennis (The Other Invisible), mezzo sopranos Anne Mason (Mother/Judge) and Caryl Hughes (Sister), baritone Peter Savidge (Father/Brothel Owner) and tenors Daniel Norman and Nathan Vale(Guards) in three performances on 8, 10 and 11 June. Condemned for a “crime of coldness” by an authoritarian regime, The Invisible is cast adrift from society. All human interaction is outlawed. This life of isolation leads to strange, vicarious thrills and painful inner torment. Yet, as the lonely exile draws to a close, it is not coldness but perilous empathy with a fellow “Invisible” that risks the cycle of exclusion beginning all over again. Howard’s music embraces extremes - the eerie beauty of The Invisible’s secluded psychological spaces set against the perpetual motion of the World of Warmth. Emily Howard recently won her second British Composer Award in the Orchestral category. In the festival her orchestral piece sphere receives its UK premiere together with Magnetite performed by BBC National Orchestra of Wales on 23 June. Her string quartet Afference is played by the Piatti Quartet on 22 June.
Artist in Residence: Patricia Kopatchinskaja
Violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja is one of today’s major creative forces and has programmed the final days at Snape in collaboration with the Ojai Music Festivalwhere she is the 2018 Music Director. This is the first year of a developing partnership with the Ojai Festival and both festivals welcome the Mahler Chamber Orchestrain residence with three concerts at Snape. Founded in 1997, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra is based on the shared vision of being a free and international ensemble made up of passionate musicians that unite for tours across the world. Kopatchinskaja plays in two concerts with the MCO. The first on 20 June is typically stimulating: from Stravinsky’s dark wartime fairy tale The Soldier’s Tale and Bartók’s premonition of conflict in his Divertimento for Strings to Ligeti’s shimmering, bittersweet reinvention of the great Hungarian violin tradition in his Violin Concerto. Kopatchinskaja is always looking for new directions. Her staged concert Bye-Bye Beethoven on 22 Junearticulates the sense of oppression of a classical musician who in conventional programming is limited to a mostly retrospective view of musical culture. It features orchestral performances of Ives, Cage, Haydn, György Kurtág, Bach, centred around the Beethoven Violin Concerto, as well as collaborations with video and sound designers, and showcases Kopatchinskaja’s imaginative curatorial flair. Kopatchinskaja’s final concert on 23 June explores her native Moldovan roots with her musician parents - violinist Emilia Kopatchinskaja and cimbalom player Viktor Kopatchinski.
Artist in Residence: John Wilson
Britten and America highlights include two concerts on the opening weekend featuring the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and its Principal Guest Conductor John Wilson, who has curated these programmes and makes his Aldeburgh Festival debut. Both concerts explore Britten’s wartime experience of America, the relationships that took him there and echoes of home. The opening concert on 8 June presents the Aldeburgh Festival commission and world premiere of a new song cycle arrangement, an orchestration by Colin Matthews of Britten’s Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo with tenor Robert Murray. It marries some of the most sensuous music Britten ever wrote with the full palette of orchestral colours. The programme on 9 June features the Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes which unites Britten and Bernstein, who led the opera’s American premiere as a young man and conducted it in his last concert. The programme also includes Bernstein’s Halil with flautist Claire Chase as soloist, Britten’s Diversions for Piano Left Hand and Orchestra and Copland’s Billy the Kid. On the opening weekend Wilson will also conduct his John Wilson Orchestra in a programme of popular and less well-known Broadway hits by Bernstein including excerpts from West Side Story, Wonderful Town, On the Town, Candide, Peter Pan, Trouble in Tahiti and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Artist in Residence: Claire Chase
American flautist Claire Chase is a soloist, collaborative artist, curator and advocate for new and experimental music. She was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2012 and in 2017 was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize. Density 2036 is a 22-year long project, begun by Chase in 2014, to commission an entirely new body of repertory for solo flute each year until the 100th anniversary of Edgard Varèse’s ground-breaking 1936 flute solo Density 21.5. For the 2018 festival, Chase has programmed a Varèse inspired recital of music commissioned and written for her which takes place on 14 June and includes Density 21.5 by Varèse and four European premieres by Du Yun, Suzanne Farrin, Mario Diaz de Leon and Marcos Balter. On 16 June Clare Chase performs Feldman’s For Philip Guston at sunrise with pianist Anna D’Errico and percussionist Alexandre Babel. Starting at 4.30am, the audience, seated or lying on mattresses, encircle the performers to experience Feldman’s five-hour memorial to his estranged friend which is cosmic in scope but constructed from simple alluring musical elements.
Featured Composers: Michael Hersch and Simon Holt
American composer and pianist Michael Hersch has been described by the Financial Times as, ‘one of the most fertile musical minds to emerge from the US over the past generation.’ He is a regular collaborator with Patricia Kopatchinskaja and she has programmed a concert of his works on 21 June with members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Hersch is an acclaimed pianist and he performs extracts from his piano work The Vanishing Pavillion. The centrepiece of the programme is the European premiere of I hope we get a chance to visit soon: an Aldeburgh Festival co-commission, it is an expansive, 60-minute, new chamber cantata based on letters and emails from a now-departed friend as she confronted cancer. On 18 June violinist Michael Barenboim makes his UK recital debut and gives the UK premiere of Michael Hersch’s the weather and landscape are on our side, a piece for solo violin inspired by fragments of letters written by the Polish writer and artist Bruno Schulz.Simon Holt celebrates his 60th birthday in 2018 with two Aldeburgh Festival Commissions and world premieres: Llanto is scored for oboe d’amore (Melinda Maxwell) and string trio. The Piatti Quartet perform the composer’s String Quartet No. 4 ‘Cloud House’ on 22 June. It is inspired by the trinkets and artefacts left untouched for decades in an abandoned farmhouse.
Other New Music
This year’s festival features 15 world premieres, six Aldeburgh Festival Commissions, five European premieres and five UK premieres. Philip Cashian’s The Book of Ingenious Devices is a new piano concerto in a single movement that passes through numerous episodes and sudden changes of direction. The world premiere on 16 June is performed by composer and pianist Huw Watkins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Oliver Knussen. Harrison Birtwistle’s Keyboard Engine, Construction for Two Pianos is an Aldeburgh Festival Commission and receives its world premiere on 18 June by pianists Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich. This concert also features the UK premiere of Birtwistle’s 3 Moth Songs (complete version) a work for soprano and ensemble featuring Claire Booth and the UK premiere of Vassos Nicolaou’s Frames for piano duet. Seven short works by young composers receive world premieres on 22 June written in July 2017 on the Contemporary Composition and Performance course at Snape Maltings directed by Oliver Knussen and Colin Matthews. Written on Fire is a co-creation by violinist Rakhi Singh and pioneering electronic musician Vessel and receives its world premiere on 22 June. The piece is inspired by Janáček’s string quartet Intimate Letters.
Le Concert Spirituel and Hervé Niquet
The French period instrument ensemble Le Concert Spirituel and conductor Hervé Niquet make their Aldeburgh Festival debut with three concerts including the little-known mass by 17th century composer Orazio Benevolo. This spectacle is performed in Ely Cathedral on 13 June and features eight choirs, each with their own conductor and instrumental ensemble and is a showcase of the extravagant high point of the Italian baroque. The Aldeburgh Festival returns to Ely Cathedral for the first time in over fifty years. On 12 June Le Concert Spirituel and Niquet perform Handel’s famed Music for the Royal Fireworks, Charpentier, and Corelli and on 14 JuneCharpentier’s motets and his best-known work Te Deum.
Sir Bryn Terfel makes his debut at the Aldeburgh Festival
Baritone Sir Bryn Terfel makes his Aldeburgh Festival debut on the closing day, 24 June, in a recital with pianist Malcolm Martineau at Snape Maltings Concert Hall. The programme will include music by Schubert, Brahms, Copland and Britten.
Other highlights include the first concert by the Orsino Ensemble: Adam Walker’s stellar line-up of leading wind players perform works by Janáček, Britten, Simon Holt and Martinů (9 June). Later the same day, Phantasm viol consort performs Bach, and his music for lute is played by one of today’s leading guitarists Sean Shibe. ForCédric Tiberghien, Cage is an increasingly central creative figure and he gives a recital of the composer’s Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano (12 June). Tiberghien returns to perform with his longstanding duo partner, violinist Alina Ibragimova, for an eclectic recital featuring Mozart, Crumb, Cage and Beethoven (16 June)and a concert with the Chiaroscuro Quartet (19 June). Tamara Stefanovich and Pierre-Laurent Aimard both give piano recitals focusing on the wildly original music of the father of American experimentalism Charles Ives: Stefanovich performs Sonata No. 1 (15 June) and Aimard plays Piano Sonata No. 2 ‘Concord’ (17 June). The Sixteen and its conductor Harry Christophers focus on two musical friends: Britten and Copland interspersed with madrigals and sacred music by Morley, Gibbons, Byrd, Sheppard and Tallis (17 June). Lucy Schaufer and Marcus Farnsworth give a song recital featuring Bernstein and Britten (19 June). Mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter is joined by fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout for a recital of songs by Mozart and Schubert (23 June). The final orchestral concert of the festival returns to Britten and America: Dvořák’s Symphony From the New World and Britten’s Violin Concerto premiered in New York in 1940. The soloist is Vilde Frang with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under the baton of Mark Wigglesworth.
BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 3 broadcasts eight concerts from the Aldeburgh Festival in 2018. Radio 3 in Concert is live on three occasions: the opening night of the festival with the world premiere of Colin Matthews’ orchestration of Britten’s Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo (8 June); the world premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s new work for two pianos (18 June) and the Chiaroscuro Quartet with Cédric Tiberghien on a period piano (19 June). Hear & Now features Emily Howard’s new opera To See The Invisible (16 June) and Michael Hersch with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (23 June). BBC Radio 3 also broadcasts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Wilson (11 June); the world premiere of Philip Cashian’s new Piano Concerto The Book of Ingenious Devices performed by Huw Watkins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the UK premiere of Emily Howard’s sphere by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under the baton of Mark Wigglesworth (for future broadcast).
£10 tickets are available for every performance for the first time at this year’s festival. www.snapemaltings.co.uk