Highlights include:

  • Easter Weekend features harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, oboist Nicholas Daniel, soprano Anna Dennis and Bach’s St Matthew Passion from memory by Solomon’s Knot
  • UK premiere performance of Bill Barclay’s The Chevalier, written and directed by Bill Barclay, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, violinist Braimah Kanneh-Mason and actor Chukwudi Iwuji
  • Visiting artists and ensembles include Lizzie Ball’s Classical Kicks, Tenebrae & Apollo’s Fire
  • English Touring Opera returns to Snape with three great operas: Handel’s Giulio Cesare, Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia & Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims
  • Britten Pears Young Artist Programme presents a Friday Lunchtime concert series at Aldeburgh Jubilee Hall and a week of intensive training with leading interpreters in chamber music
  • Family concerts include Zeb Soanes’ and James Mayhew’s Gaspard the FoxThe Beggar’s Opera from children’s opera group Jubilee Opera & Peter and the Wolf with London Symphony Orchestra musicians
  • Eavesdropping at The Red House is a new series of informal early evening events in the Library presented by soprano Juliet Fraser in association with Eavesdropping, her festival of experimental music

January to May 2023 sees Britten Pears Arts present a wide range of activity from the familiar to the brand-new including opera, premieres, leading performers, and orchestras and ensembles alongside rising stars, talks and more. 

Easter Weekend: 6 – 10 April

Mahan Esfahani returns to Snape Maltings on Good Friday to perform preludes and fugues by JS Bach from the Well-Tempered Clavier and The Art of FugueMahan Esfahani is part of a new generation of players who are helping to give a new profile to a timeless instrument. The Iranian-American musician made his London debut in 2009, and now has an international reputation as one of the most skilled harpsichordists of his generation (7 April, 7.30pm, Britten Studio).

Three artists at the height of their careers – harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, oboist Nicholas Daniel and soprano Anna Dennis – join forces to perform a selection of new music alongside Handel and Bach in Love and Endings. The programme includes Elena Langer’s Love and Endings and the premiere of Michael Berkeley’s Insects, a Britten Pears Arts commission, written for Mahan Esfahani (8 April, 7.30pm, Britten Studio).

Solomon’s Knot is an international, flexible collective of unconducted singers and instrumentalists bringing old music to new life by pushing the limits of what is possible on stage. On Easter Sunday Solomon’s Knot will perform Bach’s St Matthew Passion from memory. Doing away with vocal scores and a conductor, nine singers and 26 instrumentalists present a captivating new performance of one of the greatest masterpieces of baroque sacred music. This performance was developed in collaboration with dramaturg (literary advisor) John La Bouchardiere, during a residency at Britten Pears Arts (9 April, 4pm, Snape Maltings Concert Hall).

Visiting Artists, Ensembles & Orchestras

The London Philharmonic Orchestra presents the UK premiere performance of Bill Barclay’s The Chevaliera unique piece of concert theatre, written and directed by Bill Barclay, which tells the story of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (19 March, 7.30pm, Snape Maltings Concert Hall). Joseph Bologne was an 18th-century Black composer, virtuoso violinist, friend of Mozart and Marie Antoinette, and contributor to the abolition of slavery. He also became one of the first Black colonels in the French army, leading Europe’s first all-Black regiment of 800 foot soldiers and 200 cavalries. An extraordinary artist, his story was nearly forgotten by history but is now being told. The full-length performance features four costumed actors including Chukwudi Iwuji as Joseph Bologne, alongside rising star violinist, Braimah Kanneh-Mason, and conductor Matthew Kofi Waldren. Bologne’s finest music is interspersed with dramatic and comedic dialogue reflecting on the true nature of equality. Commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Chevalier premiered at Tanglewood in 2019. 

Lizzie’s Ball’s Classical Kicks is an inspiring, uplifting and entertaining programme of primarily classical music, flavoured with jazz, world, folk, and bluegrass, performed by world-class highly versatile musicians. Lizzie Ball created Classical Kicks in order to have the most serious fun possible with classical music programming and with the musicians who shared her versatility, imbibing her down-to-earth, vibrant and high-quality approach. Aside from their regular concerts at Ronnie Scott’s, Lizzie has performed various versions of this touring show with her Classical Kicks band around the world (15 April, 7.30pm, Snape Maltings Concert Hall).

The Four Seasons Rediscovered is presented by the Grammy-winning baroque ensemble Apollo’s Fire playing Vivaldi’s beloved Four Seasons as the revolutionary acts of musical storytelling they were meant to be. The virtuoso musicians of Apollo’s Fire take turns stepping into the spotlight as a different soloist leads each concerto, bringing Vivaldi’s pictorial descriptions to life (16 April, 4pm, Snape Maltings Concert Hall).

Tenebrae brings its trademark passion and precision with a contrasting programme of Bach’s iconic motets with the sacred vocal music of Sir James MacMillan. Tenebrae performs the three most well-known of Bach’s motets, culminating in the joyful Singet dem Herrn. In 2021 Sir James MacMillan was asked to compose a work for Tenebrae to perform alongside the Bach motets, and the result is a moving setting of words by Henry Vaughan, in I Saw Eternity (27 May, 7.30pm, Snape Maltings Concert Hall).

English Touring Opera: 20 – 22 April

English Touring Opera returns to Snape with three great operas encompassing love and war, comedy and epic tragedy. Each opera is performed on period instruments in partnership with the Old Street Band

  • Giulio Cesareis one of Handel’s most celebrated works in which the characters are driven to extremes, and music strikes the heart. James Conway’s 2017 production returns and is conducted by Sergey Rybin (20 April, 7.30pm, Snape Maltings Concert Hall).
  • Eloise Lally directs a new production of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgiaconducted by ETO’s Music Director Gerry Cornelius. Known as one of history’s most famous poisoners, Lucrezia is a complex woman in a dangerous situation, a cunning strategist and a loving mother at the same time.
  • ETO presents a new production of Rossini’s comic masterpiece Il viaggio a Reims directed by Valentina Ceschi. Conductor Jonathan Peter Kenny leads one of the largest casts ETO has ever assembled (22 April, 7.30pm, Snape Maltings Concert Hall).

Britten Pears Young Artist Programme

Friday Lunchtime Concerts: January to April

Every Friday from January to April, Britten Pears Arts presents Friday Lunchtime Concerts at Aldeburgh Jubilee Hall. The series features performances by brilliant young ensembles in the 2022-23 Britten Pears Young Artist Programme who are on a Chamber Music Residency. Participants include the Kleio Quartet (20 January); tuba, euphonium and percussion trio Dopey Monkey (27 January); two concerts by the award-winning flute, viola and harp trio the Pelléas Ensemble (3 & 10 February); early music trio La Vaghezza (17 February); two concerts from the winners of the Britten Pears Young Artist Programme Prize at the 2022 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition Leonkoro Quartet (24 February & 3 March); Trio Cordiera who are fascinated by historical performance (10 March); fast rising Quatuor Mona present two programmes (17 & 24 March); two concerts from one of the UK’s most exciting young string quartets Salomé Quartet (31 March & 7 April).

Chamber Connections

Chamber ensembles on the Britten Pears Young Artist Programme experience a week of intensive tuition, masterclasses and mentoring. This includes masterclasses with Isabelle van Keulen one of Europe’s leading chamber musicians (9 February, 2.30pm) and violinist Elena Urioste and pianist Tom Poster, co-founders of the internationally acclaimed Kaleidoscope Collective (11 February, 2.30pm). The end of course concert features some of the leading interpreters and performers including Nicholas DanielIsabelle van KeulenElena Urioste and Tom Poster playing chamber music with Britten Pears Young Artists including the world premiere of an arrangement of Britten’s Simple Symphony commissioned by Britten Pears Arts (12 February, 2.30pm, Britten Studio).

Family Events

Power of Stories is presented in partnership with Aspire Black Suffolk CIC, and Britten Pears Arts continues to host this special exhibition, named Temporary Exhibition of the Year at the Museum and Heritage Awards 2022, on the last leg of its tour of Suffolk. It combines iconic original costumes from Marvel Studio’s blockbuster film Black Panther – worn by characters T’challa, Shuri and Okoye – with historical museum objects (including from the Britten Pears Archive) and stories from our local Black community in an exploration of storytelling and identity. This exhibition is presented in collaboration with Marvel Studios, Aspire Black Suffolk CIC, Colchester + Ipswich Museums, Arts Council England, Suffolk County Council, and the Association for Suffolk Museums. (Snape Maltings Concert Hall Foyer, continues to 19 February, 10am – 5pm (4pm on Sundays; note varied opening hours around Christmas and New Year).

Jubilee Opera presents a new adaptation of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, a ballad opera first performed in London in 1728. The work combines comedy and political satire in prose interspersed with songs set to traditional English, Irish, Scottish and French tunes. Jubilee Opera was formed in 1987 and was set up for young aspiring performers to work with professionals on productions of the highest possible quality and standard. (12 March, 6pm, Britten Studio).

Meet your favourite fox from the Gaspard the Fox books in a musical version of first two Gaspard the Fox stories, narrated live by the author and Classic FM broadcaster Zeb Soanes, with soundtrack by Chris Warner, and brought to life by James Mayhew’s glorious colourful illustrations projected live onto the theatre walls (15 April, 11am & 1.30pm, Britten Studio).

Musicians from the London Symphony Orchestra present two interactive concerts for young audiences (0 – 5 years) based on Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. Early years specialist Vanessa King presents and with the musicians brings the story to life (13 May, 10 & 11.30am).

The Red House, which recently won the 2022 Suffolk family friendly museum of the year, presents family Easter activities including the Easter Audio Trail around The Red House gardens aimed at families with children aged up to 13 (30 March – 12 April) and Easter Craft and Storytelling for 5 – 12-year-olds (5 & 6 April, 11am-3pm). The May half term Nature Trail offers the chance to explore The Red House Garden with free trails, nature hunts and games for children up to 13 (27 May – 4 June, 11am – 3pm).

The Red House

Eavesdropping at The Red House is a new series of informal early evening events in the Library in The Red House, Aldeburgh, curated and presented by soprano Juliet Fraser in association with Eavesdropping, her festival of experimental music. These events are an opportunity to meet artists experimenting at the fringes of various musical genres and to hear what they’re working on at the moment.

  • Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian was raised on the Suffolk coast. The county is at the core of her work, from narratives of the local environment to field recordings captured in the landscape. Along with her voice and harp, she will bring folklore – some old, some freshly invented – and special pieces of visual and conceptual art (14 April, 6pm).
  • InShimatsuRyoko Akamaprojects her ideas with contraptions made out of objects, domestic appliances and heat electronic devices, creating a subtle, sometimes arrestingly silent, listening situation. Her recent performances talk of heat ecosystems and temperature phenomena (19 May, 6pm)

Full listings online at www.brittenpearsarts.org

Tickets go on sale on 26 November at 10am.