How will Snape Maltings’ masterplan’ realise Benjamin Britten’s creative vision?

Roger Wright, the chief executive for Aldeburgh Music, outside the Snape Maltings Concert Hall

Roger Wright, the chief executive for Aldeburgh Music, outside the Snape Maltings Concert Hall - Credit: Archant

Suffolk’s world famous concert hall will unveil a “masterplan” to fully realise the creative vision of its musical founders on the 50th anniversary of its inception.

Snape Maltings

Snape Maltings - Credit: Archant

Aldeburgh Music hopes the ambitious new proposals for Snape Maltings will have an “international impact” while remaining firmly rooted in the Suffolk community, just as the composer Benjamin Britten and his collaborator Peter Pears intended.

Key aspirations include: new accommodation for more than 100 students, tutors and visiting performers; an all-year programme of residencies for composers, artists and writers; and the expansion of its outreach work to become a centre for music, health and wellbeing.

Chief executive Roger Wright said the proposals “represent the natural evolution of the site” based on the organisation’s ongoing development and Britten and Pears’ vision for it to become a “creative campus”.

He said the masterplan’s scheduled unveiling in June 2017 - 50 years after the pair first established the maltings as the home of the Aldeburgh Festival – would be “the entirely appropriate moment”.

Snape Maltings.

Snape Maltings. - Credit: Archant

“It’s the anniversary of when Britten took over Snape Maltings and all this began,” he added.

“What’s really key here for all of us is that we put in place something that’s exciting for the future and builds on the core vision and values that he set out to achieve.”

Most Read

Mr Wright, who was previously in charge of running the BBC Proms, came to the maltings just before its former owners, the Gooderham family, sold the site to Aldeburgh Music in March last year.

He said the acquisition, made possible through a £2 million contribution from Art Council England and an individual donation, provided an “unexpected opportunity” to develop their work and realise the site’s “creative vision”.

Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears standing in front of the recently completed Snape Maltings Concert

Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears standing in front of the recently completed Snape Maltings Concert Hall in 1969 - Credit: Archant

Since taking on the overall site, which includes its shops, galleries and cafes, Mr Wright said Aldeburgh Music had been working to ensure the leadership, organisation and governance of the business were in order.

Over the coming months he will be working with stakeholders to test the ideas ready for next June’s announcement.

“There’s a healthy dose of realism about what we can achieve and we are fully aware of what a huge challenge this will be in terms of fundraising,” Mr Wright added. “We will have to cut our coat according to our cloth.”

Mr Wright said the core proposals had been under consideration for some time and represented the natural development of the site’s current use.

It already works with students and visiting performers, which the new accommodation will allow it to house on site at less cost. And its current outreach programme has been praised by organisations, which Mr Wright says are keen to Aldeburgh Music as a “role model”.

Tutors have been leading music and singing workshops, often helping people in deprived areas or with medical conditions, during visits to care homes, schools and community groups.

“These things are part of Britten’s vision about the unique role music can plan in the community so the notion of developing that work came naturally,” Mr Wright said.

He said the proposals would not divert from the core activities of Aldeburgh Music as an internationally renowned concert hall and venue for the Aldeburgh Festival. Its popular retail elements will also be left to “flourish” and support the local economy, he said.