Britten Pears Arts’ Chief Executive, Roger Wright, has been named “Concert Hall Manager of the Year” at the ABO/Classical Music Awards 2022 honouring Britten Pears Arts’ work in presenting an extensive programme of events throughout the pandemic. The ceremony was held in Glasgow last night.

Roger Wright commented, “It’s an honour for Britten Pears Arts to be recognised with this award and I would like to dedicate it to my hardworking and creative colleagues who, working as a brilliant team, enabled us to keep music-making going whenever it was permitted, and to continue to share the thrill of live performance with our audiences. I also give thanks for our funders. Public funding (not least through the Culture Recovery Fund) and the generosity of so many individual supporters made it possible for us to employ a huge number of freelancers including musicians and those in the wider creative community.  Britten Pears Arts helped lead the way with the return to live music with audiences indoors. As we are back now with our full year-round programme and looking forward to our expanded Aldeburgh Festival in June, we remain determined to continue to celebrate the power of live music and distinctive programming.”

Below is a summary of Britten Pears Art’s activity over the last year:

  • Despite the cancellation of the annual Aldeburgh Festival for the first time in its history in 2020, Britten Pears Arts became one of the first UK venues to return to regular concerts for a live audience.
  • The 2021 Festival was also impossible to stage, but Britten Pears Arts presented critically acclaimed socially distanced concerts from May 2021, opening with BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth in a concert broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. In June, a series of events in the spirit of the Aldeburgh Festival took place, with shorter, interval-free concerts over four weekends, featuring a significant array of new music and premieres. Highlights included a weekend curated by tenor Allan Clayton, whose solo recital with pianist James Baillieu included the premiere of Silenced by Mark-Anthony Turnage. They also performed all five Britten Canticles with Roderick Williams and Feargal Mostyn Williams. Allan returned later in the month to perform Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with Aurora Orchestra. Britten Sinfonia’s two programmes included premieres of works by Tansy DaviesJohn Woolrich and the late Sir John Tavener, the latter with oboist Nicholas Daniel and countertenor Andrew Watts. New productions included Juliet Fraser’s solo performances in Samuel Beckett’s Not I and Morton Feldman’s Three Voices. The Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective played with tenor, Karim Suleyman, and Colin Matthews’ new arrangement of Britten’s Double Concerto was given its premiere by Royal Academy of Music Strings conducted by John Wilson.
  • In July, Summer at Snape saw the opening of its Dome Stage, a free outdoor performance space, where a diverse range of artists graced the stage, including Abel SelacoeAlice ZawadszkiThe FontanasEliza Carthy and Ayanna Witter-Johnson. The informal atmosphere outside the concert hall encouraged new audiences to attend and be part of the experience: over 40% were first-time Snape attenders.
  • In Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Britten Pears Arts programmed daily concerts throughout August and there were many highlights over the month. These included Rufus Wainwright’s and Mica Paris’ memorable Snape debuts, and a performance by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.

Aldeburgh Festival 2022

The 73rd Aldeburgh Festival is extended by a week and will take place 3 – 26 June 2022. The festival welcomes featured artists including violinist Nicola Benedetti, organist Anna Lapwood, cellist Laura van der Heijden, clarinettist Mark Simpson and percussionist Vivi Vassileva. Tom Coult’s first opera Violet receives its world premiere and other featured composers Bushra El-Turk and Gavin Higgins each have two major new works performed. Composers pay musical tributes to the late great Oliver Knussen who would have been 70 in 2022. Britten Pears Young Artists Programme celebrates its 50th birthday with a series of concerts by its current cohort. The 2022 Festival makes most substantial commitment to new music in the Festival’s history with 41 first performances, 19 of which are Britten Pears Arts commissions, and 11 first UK performances.Featured ensemble The Doric Quartet perform all of Bartók’s six string quartets in one day. Climate change is a focus with Laura Bowler’s Houses Slide, Gregor A. Mayrhofer’s Recycling Concerto and Liza Lim’s piece Extinction events and dawn chorus. HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is marked with a number of related performances.