Rhinegold Photo credit: Matt Jolly

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Aldeburgh Festival 2018 programme revealed

11:05, 9th January 2018

The Aldeburgh Festival will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2018, with a number of events looking back to the year of its launch (1948).

The connections between Britten, America, and Leonard Bernstein will be explored throughout the Festival, which will feature 15 world premieres, six Aldeburgh Festival commissions, five European premieres and five UK premieres, and includes events curated by this year’s artists in residence: violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, conductor John Wilson and flautist Claire Chase.

New works will include the world premiere of Emily Howard’s opera To See The Invisible, based on a short story by Robert Silverberg, as well as works by Vassos Nicolaou, Philip Cashian, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, and featured composers Michael Hersch and Simon Holt.

Hersch is a regular collaborator with Patricia Kopatchinskaja, who has programmed a concert of his works as part of her residency. The composer will perform extracts from his piano work The Vanishing Pavillion, and the centrepiece of the programme will be the European premiere of I hope we get a chance to visit soon: a 60-minute, new chamber cantata based on letters and emails from a now-departed friend as she confronted cancer. Michael Barenboim will give the UK premiere of Michael Hersch’s the weather and landscape are on our side in his UK recital debut.

Simon Holt will celebrate his 60th birthday in 2018 with two Aldeburgh Festival Commissions and world premieres: Llanto, scored for oboe d’amore and string trio, and the String Quartet No. 4 ‘Cloud House’, inspired by the trinkets and artefacts left untouched for decades in an abandoned farmhouse.

As part of her residency, Patricia Kopatchinskaja will present two concerts with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. The first will explore the boundary between fable and reality, memory and modernity, virtuosity and expression, comprising works by Bartók, Stravinsky and Ligeti, and the second will feature orchestral performances and collaborations with video and sound designers. In addition to a programme of works by Michael Hersch, Kopatchinskaja will present a concert in which she will explore her native Moldovan roots in a performance with her musician parents.

John Wilson will make his Aldeburgh Festival debut with two programmes  exploring Britten’s wartime experience of America, the relationships that took him there and echoes of home. The first concert features the premiere of Colin Matthews’ orchestration of Britten’s Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo, and the second will feature Britten’s Four Sea Interludes and Diversions, Bernstein’s Halil, and Copland’s Billy the Kid. For the second concert, Wilson will conduct the John Wilson Orchestra in a programme of Bernstein.

Claire Chase has programmed a Varèse-inspired recital of music commissioned and written for her, including the composer’s Density 21.5 and Poeme electronique, and the UK premiere of Marcos Balter’s Suite from Pan.


Sir Bryn Terfel and Le Concert Spirituel will make their Aldeburgh Festival debuts. The bass-baritone will present a programme of  Schubert, Brahms, Copland and Britten in recital with pianist Malcolm Martineau, and the period instrument ensemble will give three concerts, including the first Aldeburgh Festival performance in Ely Cathedral in over 50 years.

Other highlights include the first concert by the Orsino Ensemble; Bach from Phantasm and Sean Shibe; Mozart, Crumb, Cage and Beethoven from Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien; Ives from Tamara Stefanovich and Pierre-Laurent Aimard; and Mozart and Schubert from Anne Sofie von Otter and fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout.

Priority booking will open from 10 January, and general booking will open on 14 February.


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