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Aldeburgh Music

Aldeburgh Music

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Centenary News

14 December 2012

PLACE WEEKEND: Britten and Suffolk

Friday 1 - Sunday 3 February 2013

A weekend of cross arts exploration featuring the world première of ‘In Britten’s Footsteps’ by Chris Watson


'Even when I visit countries as glorious as Italy, as friendly as Denmark or Holland—I am always homesick, and glad to get back to Suffolk. I treasure these roots, my Suffolk roots; roots are especially valuable nowadays, when so much we love is disappearing or being threatened, when there is so little to cling to.' - Benjamin Britten (1951)

With the Britten centenary celebrations in full-swing, Aldeburgh Music’s annual cross arts weekend PLACE curated by Gareth Evans, draws its inspiration from the life and travels of Benjamin Britten and, in the company of award-winning writers, thinkers, artists, musicians and film-makers, explores what home means in an age of globalisation. From the considerations of domestic architecture to the psychology of unsettlement, and from the lure of the local to our place in the cosmos, Roots – Journeying Home features discussions and talks, including Britten expert Paul Kildea, prize-winning authors Geoff Dyer and Marina Warner, and architectural historian Ken Worpole, as well as walks, exhibitions, films and performances.

In Britten’s Footsteps, which opens the weekend, is a commission from Chris Watson, which retraces Britten’s daily composing walks around Aldeburgh. Each morning after composing, Britten walked from the Red House reviewing what he had just written and planning ahead, all the while absorbing the natural sounds around him, especially birdsong. Chris Watson’s work is based on sounds that he has recorded in Aldeburgh during the course of the year, played back on an ambisonic sound system and combined with some of Britten’s cello music performed live by Oliver Coates.

Chris Watson is one of the world’s leading wildlife sound recordists who, as well as making performances and live installations, is responsible for the sound in many BBC wildlife documentaries. Chris, together with RSPB volunteers, will also guide walks literally ‘in’ Britten’s footsteps on Sunday 3 February.

As well as launching his new biography of Britten over the weekend, on Saturday 2 February Paul Kildea kicks off a day- long enquiry by authors, novelists and editors into the meanings of home in all its aspects. Featuring  Marina Warner, Ali Smith, Ronald Blythe, and East Anglian art press Full Circle Editions, the discussion will be followed by a screening of Ben Rivers’ film, Two Years at Sea, with the world premiere of a new score performed live by Mercury Prize-winning composer and tabla player Talvin Singh.

The investigations continue on Sunday 3 February with talks by architectural historian, Ken Worpole. Worpole delves into the utopian promise of social housing with colleagues from the Estate Film Project, while renowned poet and essayist Ruth Padel considers the universal impulse towards migration. Cultural historian Patrick Wright explores the exile localism of forgotten writer Uwe Johnson and Blake Morrison reads remarkable first-hand accounts of the Great Flood of 31 January 1953. 

Meanwhile, throughout the weekend, PLACE invites further explorations with a sound and image installation by Mikhail Karikis at Dovecote studio; images of the 1953 flood, arranged in the Hoffmann Building by Hugh Pilkington; film screenings; a newly commissioned sculpture from Giles Round; and a fully stocked bookstall exploring the weekend themes, with author book signings.

A Weekend Pass is available from the Box Office at £50, covering all events throught the weekend except In Britten's Footsteps - a walk

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