Aldeburgh Festival hosts opera premiere

The world premiere of a new opera has become something of a tradition to mark the opening of The Aldeburgh Festival. This year proves to be no exception as tonight sees the first performance of Yannis Kyriakides' new opera Ocean of Rain, co-commissioned by Aldeburgh Almeida Opera and Theatre Cryptic.

The world premiere of a new opera has become something of a tradition to mark the opening of The Aldeburgh Festival. This year proves to be no exception as tonight sees the first performance of Yannis Kyriakides' new opera Ocean of Rain, co-commissioned by Aldeburgh Almeida Opera and Theatre Cryptic.

Ocean of Rain is the first of a number of works that will be premiered at this year's Festival; others include a violin concerto by John Woolrich and the UK premiere of Harrison Birtwistle's most recent string quartet.

The 2008 Aldeburgh Festival is Thomas Adès' tenth and final festival as artistic director. His tenure with the Aldeburgh Festival has been a period of growth and development, both for him personally and for the festival. Over the last ten years, in tandem with composing, Adès has become increasingly well known for his performances as pianist and conductor, and his regular appearances have become festival highlights. During the 2008 Festival, as well as conducting a concert with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (Sunday June 15), he will perform as pianist alongside cellist Steven Isserlis (Tuesday June 17).

The featured composer this year is György Kurtág. In addition to having his works performed throughout the festival in the programmes of Thomas Adès, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, BCMG, Britten Sinfonia, BBC Singers and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Kurtág will give a recital with his wife Marta and the violinist, Hiromi Kikuchi (Thursday June 19).

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who will succeed Adès as artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival with effect from 2009, will make three appearances at the 2008 Festival: as soloist and conductor with the Britten Sinfonia (Saturday June 14), in recital including The Art of Fugue (Friday June 20), and as chamber musician with Tabea Zimmermann and Martin Fröst (Sunday June 22). A Messiaen protégé, installed by Boulez as resident pianist of the Ensemble InterContemporain at the age of 19, and muse to such 20th century giants as Ligeti, Kurtág and Carter, Aimard first performed at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1999, when he gave a recital interspersed with poetry written and read by Alfred Brendel.

This year's Aldeburgh Festival welcomes back the Belcea Quartet, who together with pianist Imogen Cooper will perform Schubert's Trout Quintet. The Belceas made their Aldeburgh debut with Imogen Cooper in 1999, when they performed Dvo?ák's Piano Quintet, and have been frequent guests ever since. Also returning to the Aldeburgh Festival are tenor Ian Bostridge, accompanied by Antonio Pappano; the choral group EXAUDI; the Gabrieli Consort; the Arditti Quartet; Thomas Zehetmair with Northern Sinfonia; Edward Gardner, conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in a programme of Britten and Walton; baritone Robert Holl; and soprano Carolyn Sampson.

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Faster Than Sound, where electronica meets classical music, returns in a new form, presenting three events including Stockhausen's Stimmung at Snape and an evening of commissions in the Hush House at Bentwaters Airbase, an insulated hangar used during the Cold War era to test the engines of jet aircraft.

There will also be free events on Aldeburgh beach on Sunday June 15 and Sunday June 22, and at Snape Maltings on Sunday June 29. Visual arts during this year's Aldeburgh Festival include a major new sculpture by Ana Maria Pacheco, accompanied by works on paper.

The 61st Aldeburgh Festival runs from 13-29 June 2008. Full details of what's on are available from www.aldeburgh.co.uk or by calling the Aldeburgh Music Box Office on 01728 687110.

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