There’s more to Aldeburgh Festival than music as alternative 2019 programme unveiled
- Credit: Archant
The Aldeburgh Festival will always be a showcase for music but from this year it’s also shining the spotlight on an alternative arts offer
Although, the Aldeburgh Festival will forever be linked with its founders Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears and continues to be a showcase for new music and the world-class talent, there is always more to the two week event than classical music.
When the festival was first staged during the summer of 1948, it was declared by Britten and Pears as being a festival of music and the arts. Over the years the attention has wandered away from the arts and focussed very much on the music.
Since current chief executive Roger Wright has arrived at the Snape Maltings complex, the festival has been working hard at correcting the perceived imbalance in the programme and this year have come up with a host of quirky treats including a cheeky 10-minute outdoor video-opera installation Drive-by Shooting, free music every lunchtime on Aldeburgh beach as well as more than 30 non-classical events at The Pumphouse in Aldeburgh.
Roger Wright says: "Aldeburgh in June offers much more than you'd expect from a classical music festival, with a high-profile visual arts programme, an open-air installation turning opera on its head, more than 30 events at the alternative Aldeburgh Festival from music to live poetry and theatre, and outdoor activities amidst reeds, marshes, vast skies and the waves of the North Sea."
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Aldeburgh Festival Exhibitions: Stuart Pearson Wright: Halfboy
Humour and pathos jostle for attention in BP Portrait Award winner Stuart Pearson Wright's autobiographical series of paintings and drawings which has been four years in the making.
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We are transported from 1980s council estates to thorny depressions in the landscape, bearing witness to tragicomic scenes from the artist's childhood and adolescence.
John Keane: If you knew me. If you knew yourself. You would not kill me.
Aldeburgh Festival presents paintings by artist John Keane after his visit to Rwanda in 2015, marking 25 years after 800,000 Rwandan people were slaughtered over 100 days. These powerful works suggest the haunting absence of the human figure. The title comes from a banner draped over the altar of a church where a massacre had taken place. Having been the official British War Artist of the 1990 Gulf War, John Keane has established a reputation as a political artist through a sustained artistic inquiry into the horrors of military and social conflicts around the world and the effects of media distortion. Hosted in collaboration with the Flowers Gallery.
The Arca Project: an exhibition inspired by W.G. Sebald
The project asked 17 artists and 17 writers to respond to a single image. The result is an intriguing mix of fact and fiction, documentary and reality, realised as a series of limited-edition prints. Artists involved include Bruce McLean, Abigail Lane, Simon Patterson, Tony Grisoni, Craig Burnett, Oona Grimes, Ana Milenkovic and Jaeho Kang. Alongside the exhibition, the gallery will host a series of free talks and events throughout the Festival. Curated by Michael Hall and Graeme Gilloch and presented by PayneShurvell
Outdoor sound and video installation: Drive-by Shooting
Drive-by Shooting is a short (10-minute) video and sound installation blending opera, street art and animation. A collaboration between Irish composer Brian Irvine, writer-director John McIlduff and video designer Killian John, Drive-by Shooting appears as a stencil style animation on the wall of one of the maltings building with sound transmitted to listeners wearing wireless headphones. A comic story of passion and revenge is played out by octogenarians on zimmer frames. He's been playing around with the next-door neighbour. She's going to 'shoot the fecker in the pecker' (Dublinspeak for 'shoot the bad man where it hurts the most').
Listening Walks and River Trips
We spend so much time using our eyes, it is revelatory to spend an hour concentrating on our ears. Exploring Snape Maltings' remarkable natural environment, our new series of Listening Walks gives visitors the chance to focus on the hugely diverse sounds of the Alde Estuary, from bird calls to the wind in the reeds: listening. The series is launched during the Aldeburgh Festival and runs each Saturday and Sunday from June to August. Guided by sound artists and field recording professionals Mike Challis and Meg Amsden, the walks invite participants to take part in an hour of intense listening as we walk along the bank of the River Alde, alternating between silence and discussions of what has been heard.
You can also relax on an hour-long River Trip winding along the narrows of the River Alde towards Iken. Departing from Snape Maltings' historic quay, where generations of Thames Barge skippers have plied their trade, the trips offer visitors stunning views across the mudflats and reeds in an area abundant in wildlife.
The alternative Aldeburgh Festival at The Pumphouse
Set in a lovingly-renovated Victorian pumping station on the Aldeburgh marshes, The Pumphouse hosts a hugely varied programme over the three Aldeburgh Festival weekends (June 7-9, 14-16 and 21-22). The 31 events range from comedy and poetry to theatre and a great breadth of music.
The 2019 line-up ranges from MOBO Award-winning jazz saxophonist Soweto Kinch to soundtracks from Roger Eno, virtuosic beatboxing from Shlomo, alt-pop from local band Outlya and multi-platinum Norwegian pop duo Fjord, live poetry events featuring Don Paterson and Molly Naylor, and a range of events for kids too.
There'll even be the chance to see players of the LUDWIG orchestra, resident at the main festival, let down their hair. With delicious food from local plant-based caterers Juan Pablo available throughout the evening and a pop-up bar serving a selection of drinks and cocktails provided by Fishers Gin, The Pumphouse provides both a great evening's entertainment and the perfect place to carry on a post-concert party. The Pumphouse is sponsored by Bedfords Estate Agents, Fishers Gin and George Juniper.
Free music on Aldeburgh beach every afternoon during the Festival
The Bandstand on the Beach features an eclectic mix of performers from across the musical spectrum. You'll find everything from folk, jazz and pop groups to school groups, local community choirs, singer-songwriters, big bands and classical ensembles.
Bandstand on the Beach is sponsored by Aldeburgh Fish & Chips, O&C Butcher and The Hotel Folk.
For full details on the Aldeburgh Festival visit www.snapemaltings.co.uk