Snape Maltings residencies form the basis of a groundbreaking Festival of New
PUBLISHED: 18:55 29 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:18 05 September 2019
Snape Maltings are inviting the culturally curious to sample some groundbreaking new work in their Festival of New. We take a sneak peek at this weekend's musical wonders
Snape Maltings is known as the home of the Aldeburgh Festival and Snape Proms, but behind the scenes innovative musicians and artists are on site throughout the year developing new work through residencies.
Now Snape is taking a selection of residencies and inviting East Anglia's culturally curious to treat themselves to a fast-paced mini festival of short performances and work-in-progress showings.
The Festival of New runs Friday September 6 and Saturday September 7 and its programme is bewilderingly diverse, with the weekend promising everything from innovative hip hop to contemporary jazz shaped by audience members armed with an inventive smartphone app.
Shoël Stadlen from Snape Maltings explains the event: "Our Residencies give artists opportunities to stretch themselves, take risks and try new things out. The Festival of New invites audiences to come and share in this creative energy, seeing ten short shows - some finished and ready to take flight, others in the early stages of development. The atmosphere is relaxed and anticipatory, and the whole event is a huge amount of fun. Artists come along and support each other's performances and audience members are treated as colleagues in a shared endeavour."
Festival of New starts on September 6 with an interactive sound and light installation, Voicescolourmotion, turning one of the spaces at Snape into a musical instrument that visitors can play at moments across the weekend. It is being created by London-based singer-songwriter, producer and DJ Fran Lobo whose music, from off-kilter electronica to dark ethereal pop vocals, has been compared to artists as diverse as PJ Harvey, Grimes and Rage Against the Machine.
Lobo is of South Asian descent and she feels it's important to show that women like her can flourish in a range of musical fields: "This piece is inspired by my personal experiences with sound and light therapy and will be instrumental in continuing to establish me as a sound artist as well as a singer, producer, and choral composer - all roles that I feel not enough female musicians feel confident and free to explore, especially South Asian women."
Friday night continues with Dutch jazz trio Tin Men and the Telephone, who will be appearing fresh off the Harwich ferry. Usually at concerts you are asked to turn your phone off, but at Tin Men shows your smartphone is an essential ingredient, giving audience members the chance to participate by installing and using their app, "Tinmendo". You're invited to respond in real time to choices offered by the band: you can guide the set, craft rhythms and melodies and see the band immediately start integrating your suggestions into their improvisation. Tin Men are outstanding players and improvisers and they also engage with the big challenges for society today - the rise of populism, the perils of climate change - but their quick-fire changes of direction and interaction with each other and the audience is virtuosic and often drily comic.
Keyboard player Tony Roe, of Tin Men, explains where the idea for involving the audience through technology came from: "Quite often I've sat through concerts feeling bored and it got me thinking that we really need to raise our game and learn from other disciplines like theatre or gaming. Our interaction with the audience is great fun and also a big challenge for us. Taking on new material from the audience in the middle of playing is not easy. I have to see the new melody and immediately harmonise it and also find my fellow band members within a split second."
Friday evening continues with two contrasting events - a piece of musical puppet theatre with the puppets created from broken instruments, created by Israeli duo Yael Rasooly and Amit Dolberg, followed by a performance by urban poet Reload, who paints scenes of life in Britain today with a sharp edge and in vivid colours.
Saturday takes in UK-Norwegian duo Sarah Nicolls and Maja Bugge communicating climate science data through their performance on cello, a unique "inside-out" piano and electronics; uneasy electronica and live performance from composer Laurie Tompkins and vocalist Jessica Hickie-Kallenbach; the start of a sitar concerto informed by neuroscience from Shama Rahman and Anya Yermakova; and a performance of jazz pianist and composer Kit Downes' new album for ECM Records, Dreamlife of Debris.
The festival finishes on Saturday night with a double bill of folk from Firefly Burning and Sam Lee. Snape played an integral part in the development of both their latest albums, with Firefly Burning writing and recording Breathe Shallow here, and Sam describing his Snape Residency as "the midwife" to Old Wow. It's wonderful to see them being brought back to perform the finished products of their creative time.
Festival of New takes place at Snape Maltings in various venues across the site, Friday September 6 & Saturday September 7. Book online at snapemaltings.co.uk or call the Box Office on 01728 687110.