Snape Maltings launches experimental music weekend as it launches Festival of New
- Credit: Archant
Snape Maltings is home to many regular musical events but now the coastal arts complex is adding some cutting edge music to their annual programme. Arts editor Andrew Clarke takes a look
Suffolk is steadily acquiring a reputation for innovation, from the labs at BT Martlesham to the burgeoning University of Suffolk and the cutting edge of the arts scene. At the start of an autumn arts season dotted with premieres and newly-devised work including the festivals of performance, HighTide (September 11-16) and SPILL (October 25 – November 4), Snape Maltings is introducing a new initiative called Festival of New, which runs September 7-8.
Festival of New invites people to visit the Suffolk coast for a whirlwind two days of freshly-devised music and discussion. Nine projects will be presented in showings each lasting around an hour – all of them developed at Snape Maltings in residencies that take place in its creative campus throughout the year.
Rebecca Merritt, who runs Snape Maltings’ residencies programme and is producing the Festival of New, says that the weekend will be about more than just hearing new music.
“At Snape Maltings musicians and other artists come to work on residencies throughout the year, developing new material and often presenting an Open Session to give their work a first showing in front of a live audience. The Festival of New gives these Open Sessions a new platform, giving audiences in Suffolk the chance to see nine fascinating shows developed at Snape before they’re taken up elsewhere. It’s also a chance for audiences at the events to share their thoughts on the shows with the artists directly – their feedback is a really important part of the weekend.”
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Rebecca says that while Snape has historically been renowned for its support of contemporary classical composers in particular, the Festival of New will showcases a diverse range of artists across a variety of contrasting spaces on the site.
“The nine shows we’re presenting represent a very wide range of musical styles. We start with a gig taking place in one of the derelict industrial buildings at Snape: progressive art-pop band Perhaps Contraption present a collection of new pieces, experimenting with a theatrical presentation that aims to connect the fringes of avant-rock, brass band music, post-minimalism and physical theatre.
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“Meanwhile there are strong links to the Blues, jazz and R&B in China Moses and Alex Webb’s event, titled ‘Seven Ways the Blues Can Improve Your Life’. The collaboration is a kind of love letter to the Blues, informed by some theatrical story telling. This tongue-in-cheek idea of the Blues as a self-help manual contains a lot of humour, but there’s also an underlying pathos because of the music’s origin in great suffering.”
Does this theme of musicians exploring theatrical presentation run through other events at the Festival of New?
“Yes, absolutely. Forward-thinking musicians, in whichever genre they are working, really enjoy exploring how the presentation can engage an audience. The artist Horse Whisperer is trying out the idea of delivering his sound art installation through short theatrical scenes that you can play in any order, and which may eventually turn into a work of art online. Meanwhile Hanbury & Groves are in the process of creating a work of music theatre that questions whether we can really trust our memory.
“Bastard Assignments combine composition, improvisation and radical performance art, while MOBO-nominated singer-songwriter and cellist Ayanna Witter Johnson straddles a classical and urban world, bringing her roots and her experiences into her sound.
“One of the most difficult projects to describe in words is by the singer-songwriter Naala. She is completely comfortable blending electronica with R&B and Ghanaian traditional music. Like quite a lot of people, she also has synaesthesia, which means that when she hears a particular musical note or sound, she often associates it with a particular colour, feeling or smell, and vice versa. So for her performance at Festival of New, she is working with sound, a lighting designer, a perfume maker and a chocolate maker. I’m not quite sure what to expect but it will be amazing.”
Festival of New is at Snape Maltings Friday and Saturday September 7-8.
2 day pass: £35, individual events: £8 For more information visit snapemaltings.co.uk/festival-of-new