10 June 2020
By Ellie Palmer
The annual Festival was forcibly cancelled this year due to Covid-19
In collaboration with partners including BBC Radio 3, BBC Four and BBC iPlayer, Aldeburgh Festival has announced it will present a celebration of Aldeburgh Festivals, with an offering of events from recent years to watch, listen to and explore online, as well as insights and projects delving much further back into the history of the unique festival.
This will take place within the dates originally set for the festival; 12-28 June. The 2020 edition of the festival would have been its 73rd edition, and this year will mark the very first time it has not gone ahead.
The first day (12 June) sees a celebration of composer Benjamin Britten, broadcast on BBC Four. Narrator James Naughtie will highlight Britten's broadcast legacy. Britten 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, 7pm, BBC Four).
Over on BBC Three, you can enjoy six memorable concerts from the last decade of Aldeburgh Festivals.
- John Wilson conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in a concert from 2018 which explored Benjamin Britten’s wartime experience of America, the relationships that took him there and echoes of home (19 June, 7.30pm)
- 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. (20 June, 6.30pm)
- Sir Simon Rattle conducts the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) in a performance of Messiaen’s Et exspecto 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)
- In 2018, pianist Cédric 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)
- 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 Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien, (25 June, 7.30pm)
- Composer and conductor 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)
Elsewhere, 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. You can submit yours here. A timeline documenting the memories will be displayed at brittenpearsarts.org throughout the Festival.
Main image: © Britten Pears Arts