World of music is celebrated at the Snape Proms

Apollo's Fire who will be appearing at The Snape Proms

Apollo's Fire who will be appearing at The Snape Proms - Credit: Archant

The Snape Proms has always provided Suffolk audiences with a rich recipe full of heady musical flavours but this year’s summer festival, which launches this weekend, looks to be especially exotic.

The BBC Concert Orchestra who will be appearing at The Snape Proms

The BBC Concert Orchestra who will be appearing at The Snape Proms - Credit: Archant

Although classical music is present – performances by the Borodin String Quartet, Christian Blackshaw, the BBC Concert Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra means that the quality remains sky high – there is much more of an international feel to this year’s proms line-up.

There is more of a blurring of the lines between musical genres. It is as if the proms is reinventing itself for a new generation and letting its hair down.

Aldeburgh Music’s chief executive Roger Wright is wary of promising to please all the people all of the time but is happy to try to please most of the people, most of the time.

He says the secret of planning any great proms season is making sure the quality of the music remains at the highest level.

Roger Wright, the chief executive for Aldeburgh Music, outside the Snaoe Maltings Concert Hall

Roger Wright, the chief executive for Aldeburgh Music, outside the Snaoe Maltings Concert Hall - Credit: Archant

This year Aldeburgh Music’s summer showcase features blues, folk, world music, soul and jazz in addition to some stunning classical concerts and the annual poetry prom.

Roger said he is particularly pleased to have a family event where the generations can mix and enjoy themselves together singing along to the music from Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang.

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“It’s all about breaking down barriers and introducing people of all ages to a wide range of really good music. The Snape Maltings is such a wonderful venue, such a terrific place for making music and listening to that music, that we’d be daft if we didn’t try to encourage as many people to visit us here and be transported to a myriad different destinations courtesy of the music.”

He says that the Snape Proms is a key part of Suffolk’s growing cultural provision. It’s part of a creative jigsaw which not only enriches the people who live in the county but draws in a diverse collection of people from all over the country who now realise that some of the best arts provision originates from this part of the world.

Courtney Pine

Courtney Pine - Credit: Archant

“This will be my first proms here and I have to say it is very much a team effort. People ask about what is the difference between the festival and the proms and I think they are quite distinct events. The Aldeburgh Festival has very strong roots with (Benjamin) Britten and (Peter) Pears so there aren’t the same heritage considerations with the proms.

“Obviously it fits into our overall vision because it takes place here at Snape, in the concert hall, but there is a freedom which is felt with the proms when it comes to programming that isn’t always there for the festival. They are doing different things.

“We are only interested in programming quality work but we are also looking to make it as open as possible and to introduce people to as wide a range of music as we can. So that means bringing a wide variety of different styles of music, from all over the world and bringing to Snape some of the best musicians from all over the world.”

He is especially pleased that the Suffolk Youth Orchestra is playing the same week as the National Youth Orchestra so audiences can marvel at the high standard our talented youngsters play at.

Gabrielle who is appearing at The Snape Proms

Gabrielle who is appearing at The Snape Proms - Credit: Archant

“I love we get to mix people who are regular visitors here, they have a long history of performing here. I am very excited that we have the Borodins back in their anniversary year celebrating their long history with Snape, and then we have Gabrielle and Billy Bragg who are here for the first time. Then we have The Blues Band, who are returning, and they will be followed by the great Courtney Pine and Beth Nielsen Chapman who will appeal to people who love good music.

“We celebrate local artists who enjoy an international reputation such as Christian Blackshaw and Ben Grosvenor. Audience development plays an important part and something we are doing in relation to that is working with a broadcast partner. This year it is the BBC because we are playing host to Friday Night is Music Night and then on the Saturday the BBC Concert Orchestra is playing a selection of very English works by composers like Vaughan Williams, Elgar and Sir Arthur Sullivan.

“The joy of working with the BBC is that it allows our concerts to get to a broader audience. All those listening to Friday Night is Music Night are immediately aware of the fantastic ambience of the Snape Maltings Concert Hall and it adds to Suffolk’s profile as a place where great music is made.

“Suddenly people start clocking Suffolk and Snape on their radar. This is a place to visit if you want to enjoy the arts. The Snape Proms and the Aldeburgh Festival fit into a wider cultural landscape.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra who will be appearing at The Snape Proms

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra who will be appearing at The Snape Proms - Credit: Archant

“The names of The Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Proms and Britten and Pears are important because they are the public manifestation of our work and are what will attract people here to enjoy the music. They will still be here after we’re gone. They are the through line.”

He said they were keen to work with other festivals in expanding the scope of Suffolk’s cultural provision. “With HighTide and Flipside happening just after the Snape Proms we are aware that they are providing a very different offer and it’s good that we’re not all doing the same thing.

“The key thing for us is where other organisations want to book us and use our site, we are only too happy to plan and work with them. It’s great for us and for Suffolk that weekends are getting pretty busy. I think we are very aware of the part we play in the whole artistic ecology of the county.

“Suffolk is a busy place and we want people to not only know about it but to recognise the incredible quality of the work which is produced here. I think we are all looking to achieve similar goals. Having FlipSide and the poetry festival here is great because you want people to come to Snape as a destination but also to be building the idea that here we have a creative campus.

Singer songwriter Billy Bragg who will be appearing at The Snape Proms

Singer songwriter Billy Bragg who will be appearing at The Snape Proms - Credit: Archant

“We have world-class arts being produced here in Suffolk and we need to tell the world about it.”

He said one of his goals was to spread the word about Snape not only to audiences but to musicians and composers who have yet to experience the thrill of performing at Suffolk’s premiere concert venue.

“I have been talking to Adrian Sutton, composer of War Horse, he’s here working on new pieces for violinist Fenella Humphreys as part of a Bach Plus project. There’s Adrian, a very distinguished composer, I popped across to see them work yesterday and discovered that he’s never been to Snape before, never seen a concert here, never performed here and he’s completely blown away by what we have to offer here.

“We need to celebrate the fact that we have great creative artists here on a regular basis and not just to give public concerts, sometimes they come here, as Adrian has done, just to work and to write. But, the fact that they come here is quite exciting.”

The Borodin String Quartet who will be appearing at The Snape Proms

The Borodin String Quartet who will be appearing at The Snape Proms - Credit: Archant

For Roger, the beauty of the Snape Proms is that it offers such a diverse platform that it gives them the opportunity to invite anyone who excites them. “Call us old- fashioned,” he laughs, “The proms gives us the chance to say to people: ‘You’re a really great singer, you’re a really great composer, you’re a great folk group, when are you free, come along to Snape and let’s do something together.’

“Even I forget until I look at the brochure the spread of first-class performers we have got here at Snape during August. You look at the run and you are understandably dazzled by what’s on offer. We start with the John Wilson Orchestra celebrating the world of Cole Porter – and although it sold out months ago there will be a limited number of prom tickets available on the day, as there are for all our prom concerts – then we have Kate Rusby, Billy Bragg, the Borodin’s (String Quartet), Christian Blackshaw playing Schubert, The Blues Band, Gabrielle, the young pianist Benjamin Grosvenor playing Chopin, Liszt and Ravel, the London Philharmonic Orchestra before a weekend with the BBC Concert Orchestra which then leads us into evenings with Courtney Pine and Beth Nielsen Chapman before we end with our Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang family day and the Symphonic ‘60s event. It’s an extraordinary mix.

“I hope that people who come to see Beth Nielsen Chapman, for example, will take a look at the programme and be enticed by something else and come back to see something else.

“One of the great developments in music in recent years is that people are less territorial. Musicians, composers and audiences are less concerned about genres or types of music. Classical music, world music, film music, folk, jazz, blues, swing – it’s all one big melting pot these days and people take and adapt elements of different musical styles to create something new and exciting.”

The Snape Proms runs at the Snape Maltings Concert Hall until August 31.

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