Aldeburgh: Archbishop’s visit hits all the right musical notes

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby delivered his sermon to the congregation in

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby delivered his sermon to the congregation in the Aldeburgh St Peter and St Paul church on Sunday the 9th June. Screens were also erected outside the church to relay the Festival Service. - Credit: Archant

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, was the guest of honour as he officially opened the 66th Aldeburgh Festival.

This year’s festival is commemorating the centenary of composer Benjamin Britten, who was born in Suffolk and lived in Aldeburgh for many years.

The archbishop delivered a sermon to the 550-strong congregation at St Peter and St Paul Church in Aldeburgh yesterday morning while more than 200 people watched outside on screens specially constructed for the service.

Vicar the Reverend Canon Nigel Hartley said: “The archbishop came because he is a fan of Benjamin Britten.

“He spoke very movingly about Britten’s War Requiem.

“On Saturday night he went to Snape Maltings to hear some Britten work and what came over in his sermon was his humanity and humility.”

Mr Hartley added: “He went round and greeted everyone both inside and outside.

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“To me, those are the markings of someone who was the right choice at the right time.

“The archbishop’s visit has been a long time in the planning and he was the first Archbishop of Canterbury to come to Aldeburgh.

“It was a tremendous honour and we were delighted by the way everything went yesterday.”

The boy choristers of the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, performed Britten’s Missa Brevis.

Aldeburgh Festival, which runs until June 22, was founded by and is synonymous with Britten.

Events commemorating the centenary of Britten include a performance from Vertavo Quartet, a coastal walk to Britten’s birthplace in Lowestoft and the screening of various films.

Britten and his partner, the tenor Peter Pears, are buried at the Aldeburgh church.

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