Ipswich car park to be turned into concert venue as part of Aldeburgh Festival, full details about this and Snape Proms

Composer Kate Whitley and Roger Wright at Endeavour House Car Park in. The Multistory Orchestra will

Composer Kate Whitley and Roger Wright at Endeavour House Car Park in. The Multistory Orchestra will be performing at the Suffolk County Council car park as part of the Aldeburgh Music Festival. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

For one afternoon only, Ipswich’s Endeavour House Car Park is being turned into a concert hall - complete with a 60-piece symphony orchestra and 100-strong choir.

The Multi-Storey Orchestra which will be bringing the Aldeburgh Festival to Ipswich this year.

The Multi-Storey Orchestra which will be bringing the Aldeburgh Festival to Ipswich this year. - Credit: Archant

For one afternoon only, Ipswich’s Endeavour House Car Park is being turned into a concert hall – complete with a 60-piece symphony orchestra and 100-strong choir.

Multi-Story is part of this year’s Aldeburgh Festival 2015, running June 12-28. If your postcode starts IP1, IP2, IP3 or IP4 you can apply for free tickets to see it too.

The innovative British orchestra has won rave reviews for their concerts at Peckham multi-storey car park. It’s aim is to take concerts out of traditional venues to give people the chance to experience the power of live orchestral music.

“We haven’t done anything outside London so it’s absolutely ideal to come to Ipswich and work with Aldeburgh Music. There’s a guy who comes in Peckham every year who always brings his dog. He say’s ‘he’s coming for his next Brahms’ symphony’ and people bring their kids. The whole atmosphere will be so different to how you are normally sat in concert halls,” said composer Kate Whitley, Multi-Story’s founder.

Gabriela Montero, who will be spontaneously improvising soundtracks to the classic 1920s silent film

Gabriela Montero, who will be spontaneously improvising soundtracks to the classic 1920s silent films Battleship Potemkin and Faust at this year's Aldeburgh Festival. - Credit: Archant


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A stripped back version of the orchestra will visit schools in the vicinity of the Constantine Road car park in the run-up to the concert, which features Beethoven’s Creatures of Prometheus Overture, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring and a piece by Whitley. Pupils from each school will form a 100-strong guest choir who will perform the latter at the car park from 3pm on June 14.

“The idea is take a space like this, which is in many ways a blank canvas. Nobody comes to it with any preconceptions except I’ll park my car here – that applies to anyone of any age, background, knowledge of art. That’s why car parks work well for concerts, there’s a lot of room and you feel like this has popped out of nowhere. There’s no separation (between the orchestra and audience)... a space like this you can use in any way.”

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The orchestra will be placed at the far end, with the audience sat mainly on school benches in a semi-circle close around it. People are free to stretch their legs and there will be refreshments on the roof.

Roger Wright, chief executive of Aldeburgh Music, said the conventional packaging of classical music has defined how it is generally perceived. But live, it can be one of the most exhilarating, visceral, subversive experiences.

Yngve and The Innocents at the Pumphouse

Yngve and The Innocents at the Pumphouse - Credit: Archant

“It’s really important we have projects like Multi-Story to break down those barriers. It’s an inspired idea and a wonderful way to be able to welcome new audiences to really high quality events,” he added.

“We don’t just expect audiences to come to Aldeburgh Music... Our vision is to keep the work as distinctive as possible and at the same time build audiences for it. Within Multi-Story are different messages that are really important to us – new work, bringing in new audiences and community involvement. We’re very grateful to Suffolk County Council for making the building available to us.”

Jayne Knight, Suffolk County Council’s arts development manager, said: “We’re big supporters of Aldeburgh Music and we’re delighted they’re coming to Ipswich and offering residents free tickets to have this experience. This car park is used by many people who work at the county council, councillors and Ipswich Town. All the football fans come here on Saturdays so it’s a good familiar space for the people of Ipswich.”

To apply for free tickets to Multi-Story call Aldeburgh Music’s box office on 01728 687110

Pierre-Laurent Aimard working with Pierre Boulez, one of the great modernists of the last 70 years,

Pierre-Laurent Aimard working with Pierre Boulez, one of the great modernists of the last 70 years, whose 90th birthday is celebrated with a series of events. Photo: Roger Mastroianno - Credit: Archant

While Endeavour House Car Park is the most unusual venue of this year’s Aldeburgh Festival, the concert is just one part of a packed programme – with several updates announced today.

“While there may be some people who have been many times, there are always lots of people hearing this music for the first time so providing the right ways in for them is incredibly important,” stressed Mr Wright, adding it’s about presenting different types of music in an interesting context that’s right for the music.

He’s particularly looking forward to The Pumphouse programme. The festival’s non-classical fringe element is set in a disused Victorian pumping station built on the marshes.

It will host more than 30 varied shows over the weekends of June 12-13, 19-21 and 26-27. This year’s programme ranges from comedy, with readings by Craig Brown and Peter Serafinowicz; impressions from The Only Way is Downton and storytelling and songs from Kate Dimbleby as well as cabaret from the Soho Theatre’s Le Gateau Chocolat and Madame Galina.

Music includes the Afro funk soul of Hot Border Special to the psychedelic pop of Super Best Friends Club, Turkish traditional music from Cigdem Aslan and avant brass from Perhaps Contraption.

There will also be theatre including The Vanishing Man, Simon Evans and David Aula’s play about the history of magic; an opera for babies by Wonderful Beast and live poetry by Tiffany Atkinson and Jackie Wills.

“Opera for babies is a lovely idea and The Pumphouse, that experience of the festival fringe, is a vibrant part of the festival. While we call it fringe, what it’s called is irrelevant. The only important thing is how good is it,” said Mr Wright.

“Building on the poetry events we already have at Snape Maltings, it comes back to why we might do something like Multi-Story... The Pumphouse is a wonderful way to get to know about new acts as well as see in those fringe activities some old friends.”

The full Pumphouse programme will be announced shortly, with tickets on sale from April 20.

For the first time this year, Aldeburgh Festival is also offering an hour of free live music every day with Bandstand on the Beach, near the Moot Hall.

“One of the most common questions I’m asked is ‘are you going to do Grimes on the Beach again’? The interesting thing about that is what can we learn and how can we build on that particular experience.

“The trap would be, because it was such a success, to do it for a second year running. What happens then when you don’t do it a third year? Seeing the vibrant way Aldeburgh came to life for last year’s Musicircus, we learned how high quality music-making can sit in unusual places and engage lots of local musicians so the notion of a bandstand on the beach is the next incarnation of that.”

From 1pm-2pm each day there will be a mix of musicians including international artists appearing at the main festival, non-classical artists appearing at The Pumphouse (including Kate Dimbleby, Vagabond Trills, Busking Sharks and Perhaps Contraption) and artists resident at Aldeburgh Music (including Britten–Pears Young Artists and Aldeburgh Young Musicians plus grass-roots acts from Suffolk and beyond). It will include the mass-participation Rabble Chorus, hip hop-inspired drumming group Drumheads, New Orleans-style swing band Tuba Swingy and jazz singer Olivia Castle.

“It’s very much in the spirit of Musicircus but not all happening at the same time in that same wonderful, mad way. It’s a really good opportunity to have that openness and celebration of music and music-making of all different types back on the beach. It’s really important it has that informal feel,” added Mr Wright.

The full Bandstand programme will be announced at www.aldeburgh.co.uk in June.

This year’s Snape Proms season was also announced today, with artists from around the UK as well as America, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Romania and Russia performing at the internationally renowned concert hall from August 1-31.

Comprising folk, roots, world, classical, jazz, poetry and family music; headliners include Gabrielle, one of a number of stars making their Snape debut; Billy Bragg, Kate Rusby, John Wilson Orchestra, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Courtney Pine.

The John Wilson Orchestra opens the proms with a celebration of Cole Porter and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra closes the season with an evening of 1960s pop hits, from Andy Williams to the Beach Boys.

The BBC Concert Orchestra will make a special two-concert visit, with a live broadcast on BBC Radio 2 of Friday Night Is Music Night and a programme of English music including Elgar and Vaughan Williams.

The music of Strauss and Schumann will be performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra in a special one-off collaboration with the Royal Opera House’s music director Antonio Pappano.

“I’m really excited about Snape Proms this year. I’m really glad we’ve got BBC Radio 2 coming to us live. The BBC Concert Orchestra give us an opportunity, just on those two nights, to reach a million people and we’re going to be part of BBC Music Day on June 5 – getting across the range of music making in Suffolk,” said Mr Wright.

Smaller-scale events see Snape recital debuts from young pianists Benjamin Grosvenor and classical guitarist Miloš Karadagli. Other acts include American baroque orchestra Apollo’s Fire with Alina Ibragimova and two concerts from the Borodin Quartet from Moscow, celebrating its 70th year.

Meanwhile, the family-friendly Come and Sing gives you the chance to sing along with music from the ever-popular film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

The annual Poetry Prom, one of the UK’s largest live poetry events and presented by The Poetry Trustone, features Mark Doty and Naomi Shihab Nye.

Mr Wright said: “It’s a wonderful range of music going beyond the traditional classical fare... The atmosphere will be a fun one as ever.”

For the full programme and booking details, visit www.aldeburgh.co.uk

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