A Celebration of Aldeburgh Festivals, 12-28 June 2020

Highlights include:

ï ‘Opening Night’ broadcast of Britten on Camera on BBC Four followed by
Struan Leslie’s Illuminations – a staging including circus performers of
Britten’s Les Illuminations – seen for the first time on Britten
Pears Arts’ YouTube Channel

ï Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach will be available on BBC iPlayer
later this month

ï Create your own Aldeburgh Musicircus experience online

ï BBC Radio 3 to broadcast six archive performances from Aldeburgh Festival
between 19 – 26 June ï Aldeburgh Festival invites audiences to share their
memories from its 72 festivals

BBC Four: Britten on Camera

Commissioned for Britten’s centenary in 2013, Britten on Camera,
narrated by James Naughtie, presents some of the highlights of Britten’s
broadcast legacy. He was one of the great classical composers of the
broadcasting age and his music was regularly performed on radio and
television throughout his working life. This documentary explores the
dynamic relationship he developed with the BBC to bring classical music to
wider audiences. Contributors include David Attenborough, Michael Crawford,
Humphrey Burton and Nicholas Kenyon (Fri 12 June, 7.30pm, BBC Four).

Film premiere: Illuminations

The 2016 Aldeburgh Festival opened to great critical acclaim with
Illuminations, a new work for soprano, string orchestra and an ensemble of
circus performers. Inspired by the sensuality and symbolism of the poems by
Rimbaud set in Britten’s song cycle Les Illuminations, director Struan
Leslie created a newly-commissioned staging fusing music and contemporary
circus performance. Soprano Sarah Tynan joined an ensemble of nine
international circus performers, Aurora Orchestra and conductor Nicholas
Collon in a devised performance. On Friday 12 June, Aldeburgh Festival will
broadcast the premiere performance of Les Illuminations on Britten Pears
Arts’ YouTube channel at 9pm and it will be available on demand for the
following 30 days.

BBC iPlayer: Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach

In 2013 as part of Britten’s centenary celebrations, Aldeburgh Festival
presented an unforgettable open-air staging of Britten’s Peter Grimes on the very beach that inspired the opera, set
against the dramatic backdrop of the North Sea. The cast was led by Alan
Oke in the title role and Giselle Allen as Ellen Orford. Steuart Bedford
conducted the Britten-Pears Orchestra and the Choruses of Opera North and
Guildhall School of Music & Drama. It became one of the most talked
about events of the year. Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach will be available
later this month.

An Aldeburgh Musicircus

A memorable event took place in 2014 when Aldeburgh Festival presented a
version of John Cage’s Musicircus which took over the town of
Aldeburgh for two hours. Cage’s concept was to invite anyone to perform
anything they want to at the same time. Cage famously said, ‘You won’t hear
anything: you’ll hear everything’. The Aldeburgh Festival performance
featured around 1,000 performers, from artists and ensembles featured in
the Festival to local bands and community music groups – the largest ever
gathering of musicians in Aldeburgh with performances all over the town.
Audiences can now create and mix their own Musicircus with an interactive
digital experience based on the 40 performances that were filmed.

This web app will be available at


from 12 June.

BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 has been broadcasting from the Aldeburgh Festival for more than
50 years, and delves into the archive to broadcast six memorable concerts
from the last decade.

John Wilson conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in a concert from
2018 which explored Britten’s wartime experience of America, the
relationships that took him there and echoes of home. The programme
features the first performance of Colin Matthews’ orchestration of
Britten’s Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo with tenor Robert Murray,
Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem, Copland’s Quiet City and
Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2 The Age of Anxiety with pianist CÈdric
Tiberghien (19 June, 7.30pm, BBC Radio 3 in Concert).

Netia Jones’ new production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
opened the 2017 Festival bringing to life the captivating tale of lovers,
rustics and fairies. Conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth, it features a cast of
internationally renowned singers including Iestyn Davies (Oberon), Sophie
Bevan (Tytania), Matthew Rose (Bottom), Clive Bayley (Theseus) and Andrew
Shore (Quince) (20 June, 6.30pm, Opera on 3).

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO)
in a performance of Messiaen’s Etexspecto resurrectionem mortuorum and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde from the 2011 Festival. He is
joined by soloists Magdalena Kozena and Michael Schade (23 June, BBC Radio 3 in Concert).

In 2018 CÈdric Tiberghien and the period strings of the Chiaroscuro Quartet
explored chamber music by German romantic greats with a programme including
Schumann’s Fantasy Op. 17 and his Piano Quintet alongside Mendelssohn’s
String Quartet Op. 12. (24 June, 7.30pm, Radio 3 in Concert).

In 2017 Lionel Meunier and his award-winning Belgian early music vocal
group Vox Luminis made their Aldeburgh Festival debut. This programme from
Blythburgh Church marked the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s
Reformation and includes two Bach Cantatas set alongside Sch¸tz’sMusikalische Exequien, (25 June, 7.30pm, BBC Radio 3 in Concert).

Oliver Knussen had a long-standing relationship with both the Aldeburgh
Festival and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. This performance was Knussen’s
final concert. One of Knussen’s typical programmes, it features the world
premiere of Philip Cashian’s The Book of Ingenious Devices, a
piano concerto in a single movement performed by Huw Watkins, Morton
Feldman’s Structures and music by Aaron Copland – Music for a Great City,
and the Appalachian Spring Suite (26 June, 7.30pm, BBC Radio 3 in Concert).

Aldeburgh Festival Memories Britten Pears Arts is using the space created
by the current lockdown to celebrate the remarkable history of a Festival
which is renowned for its intimate feel and the special place it has in
audience’s hearts. The organisation is now collecting people’s memories of
as many of the 72 Festivals as possible, inviting anyone who has a story to
tell about a Festival visit to post their memories, using this online form.
A timeline documenting the memories will be displayed at
brittenpearsarts.org throughout the Festival.

There will also be podcasts, articles and social media projects (including
an “On This Day” feature) giving insights into the extraordinary breadth
and quality of the Festival over the years.

Aldeburgh Festival is one of the world’s most significant classical music
events, set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the Suffolk coast.
The Festival was founded in 1948 by composer Benjamin Britten, tenor Peter
Pears and the librettist/producer Eric Crozier.