Is this new music's Woodstock?
In 1971 the pacifists Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears purchased the Chapel House in Horham, Suffolk because the noise from US fighters flying from the RAF Bentwaters base near Aldeburgh was disturbing Britten's composing. It was in Horham he wrote his late works, Death in Venice, Phaedra and the Third String Quartet. Britten died in 1976, and RAF Bentwaters closed in 1993 at the end of the Cold War, after 43 years with a US presence on the base.
Now, in an inspiring example of 'we have overcome', Britten's Aldeburgh Festival, under the direction of Thomas Adès, is reclaiming RAF Bentwater, and on Saturday the former Cold War base joins Snape Maltings, the Jubillee Hall, and Orford Church as a festival venue. On June 9th the disused military facility hosts 'Faster Than Sound', a six hour sound event which joins the dots between music genres and digital art forms. During the evening artists from a wide range of backgrounds are collaborating and exploring the worlds of electronic music, contemporary classical practice and interactive visual arts.
There will be a range of immersive installations, musical collaborations, a wireless walk in the woods, illuminated cold war military buildings and a large dome filled with contemporary music - all the photos here were taken before the 2006 event. Sonic Arts Network are performing works by Luigi Nono, Iannis Xenakis, and Luc Ferrari, and other performers include Mira Calix and Tansy Davies. More details on the Faster Than Sound website.
On Saturday afternoon we are at Orford Church, where Britten's Curlew River was first performed and recorded by the composer, for a concert by the adventurous Exaudi. Their programme is Gesualdo, a UK premiere by Salvatore Sciarrino, Niccolo Castiglioni, Monteverdi, Giacinto Scelsi, and Luigi Nono. Then, together with many others, we will travel the short distance from the historic church to the Cold War base of RAF Bentwaters for an evening of experimental music. Update - see the 2007 event via this link.
Faster Than Sound has all the excitement of those wonderful 1970s London Roundhouse concerts when Pierre Boulez and William Glock ruled at the BBC, and Classic FM was still two decades away. Could this be new music's Woodstock? Even if it isn't, the 2007 Aldeburgh Festival lays to rest all that nonsense about classical music being dead.
For a photo report on the 2007 Faster Than Sound follow this link, and get into the Woodstock spirit with Benjamin Britten - we shall overcome.
Photos of 2006 Faster Than Sound from FM Buckeymedia. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk