New music, old music, reeds, marshes, vast skies and the waves of the North Sea… Aldeburgh in June offers much more than you’d expect from a classical music festival.
Founded by composer Benjamin Britten and singer Peter Pears in 1948 as ‘a modest festival with a few concerts given by friends’, the Aldeburgh Festival is now one of the world’s leading classical music events with a feel that is different from any other.
There are many ingredients that make visiting Aldeburgh special – the landscape, beautiful yet wild and unsentimental; the adventurous spirit of broadening horizons that connects performers and audiences; and the proportion of the programme that is ‘home grown’, devised at Snape throughout the year, unmatched by any of the world’s other leading classical music festivals.
The festival has retained its close-knit feel. Venues range from the same churches and halls in and around Aldeburgh used by Britten in the 1940s and 50s to Snape Maltings Concert Hall, a nineteenth-century industrial building converted into what has become one of the world’s most-loved concert halls.
Meanwhile the landscape itself contributes to the festival’s distinctive sense of theatre – recent landmark events have included Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux performed across 21 hours at venues including the RSPB Minsmere nature reserve, Aldeburgh town taken over by more than 1,000 performers playing John Cage’s anarchic Musicircus, and Britten’s great opera Peter Grimes given a once-in-a-lifetime staging on the location that inspired it, Aldeburgh beach.
‘a festival so broadly rich in interest that it ranks among the finest in the world’
New York Times