Looking ahead to A|ldeburgh Festival

AN ARGENTINIAN composer's work performed by 111 cyclists on the beach is just one of the unusual ingredients to make up this year's Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts, which starts this week.

AN ARGENTINIAN composer's work performed by 111 cyclists on the beach is just one of the unusual ingredients to make up this year's Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts, which starts this week.

The world-famous cultural feast, the 56th of its kind, kicks off on June 6 and runs through to June 22.

In that time, it will pack in more than 80 events, including world famous musicians, singers, chamber groups, orchestras, visual arts exhibitions and some unexpected extras.

The festival opens with Benjamin Britten's Gloriana, which tells the story of Queen Elizabeth I's love for Robert, Earl of Essex, and includes some of the most colourful music in all of the composer's operas.


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The theme continues with early 17th century madrigals from the Orlando Consort. Tenor Mark Padmore and guitarist Craig Ogden will perform songs by Dowland, and there will be a screening of Michael's Curtiz's 1939 classic film, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.

Providing more 'off-the-wall' entertainment is Argentinian composer Mauricio Kagel's piece, Eine Brise – performed by 111 cyclists on Aldeburgh beach and their bicycle bells. His other works include a musical tennis match.

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A host of premieres include Simon Holt's Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm, a short opera about a murdered witch in Hagley Wood, Sciarrino's Ecstasy in one act, and the UK premiere of Oliver Knussen's Violin Concerto.

The festival sees the welcome return of Ian Bostridge, Mitsuko Uchida, Alfred Brendel, Robert Tear, Emmanuelle Haim, the CBSO with Sakari Oramo, and Thomas Ades with the Belcea Quartet.

Festival newcomers include Louis Lortie, Bo Skovhus and outstanding young musicians from the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme.

Away from the concert hall, there is a talk by historian, writer and broadcaster David Starkey, films and free events on the beach.

On the beach, you can dance to Urban Strawberry Lunch, a group of musicians who specialise in creating music out of junk, or marvel at performance artist Simon Daw, who will be building a house with transparent sides, filling it with sea water and perform from inside using an underwater microphone.

An eccentric collection of acts will be gathering at The Pumphouse, a disused Victorian sewage pumping station on the edge of the Aldeburgh marshes, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, with tickets costing £5. The programme keeps changing right up until the night.

For more information about the festival, phone 01728 687110 or see www.aldeburgh.co.uk.

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