Just in: Aldeburgh beats Proms to world premieres

Just in: Aldeburgh beats Proms to world premieres


norman lebrecht

May 06, 2021

While the BBC has yet to roll out its summer plans, Britten Pears Arts has replaced its regular festival with a welter of new music delivered in short weekend concerts over May, June and July, with more to follow. Here are the headline acts:

– First performances of Britten Pears Arts commissions, including music by featured composer Tansy Davies and Mark Anthony Turnage
– World premieres by John Tavener, John Woolrich and Stephen Hough
– New versions of Britten‘s music by Robin Holloway and Colin Matthews in world premiere performances
– First performances of Nadine Benjamin’s multi-media music theatre piece BEAM
– Juliet Fraser presents to and fro in shadow, an evening of Samuel Beckett and Morton Feldman

That’s some summer.


  • Eric says:

    It’s not a race though, is it? And the Proms season typically starts 2 months later than Aldeburgh anyway, so this is hardly surprising that they would announce theirs first…

  • John Borstlap says:

    Very interesting & laudable.

    But Becket and Feldman are very much last century postwar nihilism and existential despair. Needs some warning: ‘approved for appropriate audiences, parental advice is recommended’. And a number of stretchers in the pathways.

    Turnage is gutter music, needs equal warning. Hough is mild recollection of music heard from something far-away, cannot do much harm.

    Tansy Davies, a female hornplayer who also composes, goes Nature, so that should be interesting, as we know, those patriarchal authoritarian composers of old never had much interest in Nature. So that is something new:


    John Woolrich writes beautiful music:


    Nadine Benjamin is a beautiful neurodiverse opera singer:


    …. so, of course she must be equally brilliant at composing since there is not much difference, is there? and, there’s a lot waiting to be liberated:


    ‘BEAM’ does not seem to have much to do with music, but who cares? It’s about trauma and liberation and diversity and being socially inclusive, so perfectly suited to Aldeburgh.


    • Gary says:

      Why point out that musicians are female, or beautiful?

      • John Borstlap says:

        1) When composers, or would-be composers, are female, that is something to notice since they have been suppressed all along since the 9th century when music began to be written down. It’s a noticable tendency of historical significance.
        2) When singers are called ‘beautiful’, professionals mean the voice. When von Karajan exclaimed enthusiastically: ‘Oh, SOOO ein schöner Baritone!’ it was easily misunderstood by nonprofessionals.

  • yujafan says:

    wtf is a “neurodiverse opera singer”?

    • Marfisa says:

      An opera singer who is somewhere on the autistic spectrum (probably).

    • John Borstlap says:

      It’s what she says herself in the video. I have no idea what it means but it sounds socially justified, so it should be OK.

  • Maria says:

    The Proms is logistically much more complicated to organise, and much larger and international. Getting to London’s Albert or Cardogan Halls is a doddle from any part of the country woth a train station whereas getting to Aldeburgh is the Styx in comparison and only a car to get you there. Hardly like for like!

  • Bass One says:

    That should get bums on seats.