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Birdsong, circus performers and piano are at the heart of festival

15:21 16 January 2016

Pierre-Laurent Aimard will perform Olivier Messiaen’s huge work for piano over four concerts at Snape Maltings and RSPB Minsmere.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard will perform Olivier Messiaen’s huge work for piano over four concerts at Snape Maltings and RSPB Minsmere.

rob brimson

A 20-hour marathon of music and birdsong from sunrise to midnight will be the centrepiece of this year’s Aldeburgh Festival.

Mikrokosmos & Grade 1 Challenge - Snape Maltings Concert HallMikrokosmos & Grade 1 Challenge - Snape Maltings Concert Hall

Details of the event, which will feature a free dusk concert at RSPB Minsmere, were outlined as organisers announced the programme for the festival, which will take place from June 10 to June 26.

Other highlights include Illuminations, a newly-commissioned staging of music by Benjamin Britten and other composers fusing music and contemporary circus performance; a challenge to get everyone to take up the piano from scratch; and free music every lunchtime at the Bandstand on the Beach.

The 17-day festival opens with the premiere of a new staged work for singer, string orchestra and circus performers inspired by the surrealism of Rimbaud’s poetry set in Britten’s song cycle Les Illuminations.

The festival centrepiece Catalogue d’Oiseaux takes place on June 19, a marathon journey through music and nature from sunrise to midnight.

Aldeburgh festival artistic director Pierre-Laurent Aimard will perform Olivier Messiaen’s huge work for piano over four concerts, set against the panoramic backdrops and teeming wildlife of Snape Maltings and RSPB Minsmere.

Birdsong fascinated French composer Messiaen all his life and Catalogue d’Oiseaux features a 150-minute piece for solo piano which creates a rich musical language from the depictions of 77 species of bird that Messiaen heard in his native south-west France.

The day starts at Snape Maltings with a view of sunrise over the River Alde, the climax will be the free concert outdoors on the BBC Springwatch stage at RSPB Minsmere, and the finale will see the audience back at Snape near midnight, seated on the concert hall floor in almost total darkness.

An Aldeburgh Music spokeswoman said the festival had a huge programme of varied events.

She said: “There will also be walks, talks and films, the 30-plus non-classical events at The Pumphouse fringe and free music every lunchtime on the Bandstand on the Beach.”


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