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Aldeburgh Festival

Friday 7 – Sunday 23 June 2019 See All Events

2019 Aldeburgh Festival Artists in Residence announced

  • Thomas Larcher’s acclaimed first opera The Hunting Gun receives its UK premiere and pianist Paul Lewis gives world premiere of Larcher’s Aldeburgh Festival commission
  • Mark Padmore explores the relationship between words and music with leading poets
  • Barbara Hannigan conducts Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress

The 72nd Aldeburgh Festival features three Artists in Residence – composer Thomas Larcher, tenor Mark Padmore and soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan – who have each curated parts of the Festival. Thomas Larcher’s opera The Hunting Gun receives its UK premiere and opens the Festival. Mark Padmore explores the relationship between poetry and music and Barbara Hannigan conducts singers from her Equilibrium Young Artist programme in a performance of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, an opera in which she sang one of her first major roles.


Photo: Richard Haughton

Thomas Larcher

Thomas Larcher’s first opera The Hunting Gun received great acclaim at its world premiere at the 2018 Bregenz Festival. The Hunting Gun receives its UK premiere on 7 June, opening Aldeburgh Festival 2019 with two performances across the first weekend. With a libretto by Friederike Gösweiner and directed by Austrian actor and film director Karl Markovics, the story is based on Yasushi Inoue’s best-selling 1945 Japanese novella.

A poet passes a hunter while climbing a mountain and publishes a poem about the hunter’s lonely, haunted countenance. The Hunter happens to read the poem and recognise himself in it. He sends the author three letters: from his wife, his lover and her daughter. Three letters, by three women to one man, become a gripping fable retold in language of stark poetic simplicity as the central figure helplessly observes the unfolding tragedy, all the while clasping his gun that ‘presses the whole burden deep into the lonely man’s body and soul.’ The cast includes tenor Sam Boden as Dichter (Narrator), baritone Peter Schöne (Josuke), soprano Sarah Aristidou (Shoko), soprano Giulia Peri (Midori) and mezzo-soprano Olivia Vermeulen (Saiko), under the baton of Ryan Wigglesworth.

Larcher’s residency also features the composer’s four string quartets performed by the Albion Quartet (Cold Farmer, 11 June), the Ardeo Quartet (IXXU,13 June), the Heath Quartet (Madhares, 15 June) and Quatuor Diotima (Lucid Dreams, 20 June). Larcher’s music is heard throughout the Festival, with pianist Paul Lewis giving the world premiere of the composer’s Aldeburgh Festival commission on 8 June; the orchestral work Red and Green is performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra on 15 June; and as part of the closing concert of the Festival on 23 June, cellist Alisa Weilerstein joins the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and conductor Edward Gardner for a performance of Ouroboros for cello and orchestra.


Photo: Marco Borggreve

Mark Padmore

Tenor Mark Padmore believes that musicians and audiences can gain a richer experience of songs and opera by thinking more closely about the words they set. Over the course of four Poetry & Music events, writer, broadcaster and performer Dr Kate Kennedy is joined by leading poets to discuss the texts set by Britten in his song cycles Winter Words (Thomas Hardy), The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, Songs and Proverbs of William Blake, and Who are These Children? (William Soutar). The discussions are followed by performances from Padmore, Roderick Williams and pianist Andrew West.

Padmore’s residency also includes a recital of Thomas Larcher’s A Padmore Cycle, accompanied by the composer on 9 June. On 13 June, Padmore is joined by baritone Roderick Williams, pianist Julius Drake and actor (to be announced) for an evening of spoken word and songs evoking the sea as captured by Britten, Coleridge, Elgar, Eliot, Fauré, Shakespeare and Tippett, among others. On 17 June, Padmore and Williams recreate a special event which took place in 1828: the only known concert with an all-Schubert programme to have taken place during the composer’s lifetime.


Photo: Marco Borggreve

Barbara Hannigan

As part of Aldeburgh Festival’s collaboration with the Ojai Festival in California where she is the 2019 Festival Music Director, soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan curates concerts in the final four days, performing three events with the Ludwig Orchestra from the Netherlands. On 20 June, Hannigan returns to one of her first major operatic roles, Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, but this time as conductor rather than singer. It will be the first opera production to feature Hannigan as conductor and she has hand-picked the cast from her Equilibrium Young Artist programme. They are joined by the Ludwig Orchestra and the Chorus of Opera Holland Park. On 21 June Hannigan conducts Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht and sings Grisey’s Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil. On 22 June, she conducts Stravinsky’s Pulcinella and Haydn’s Symphony No.49 before directing and singing Gershwin’s Suite from Girl Crazy.


The full programme will be announced on Thursday 20 December.

Priority booking will open from 15 January.
Annual donors can book from 15 January, Friends from 29 January and ABL from 12 February. Find out more about joining us.
General booking will open on 19 February.

Aldeburgh Festival

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

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