Sounding out a world of talent in Aldeburgh

PUBLISHED: 01:54 09 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:36 20 February 2013

Suffolk is going global this summer with the creation of the Aldeburgh World Orchestra. Andrew Clarke met Aldeburgh Music's Jonathan Reekie to talk about the Olympic ideal

Suffolk is going global this summer with the
creation of the Aldeburgh World Orchestra.
Andrew Clarke met Aldeburgh Musics
Jonathan Reekie to talk about the Olympic ideal

Some of the best young musicians from across the globe will be performing at Snape and at the Royal Albert Hall as part of Suffolks contribution to the nations Olympic celebrations.

Aldeburgh Music have put together the Aldeburgh World Orchestra drawn from players from all over the world and from Aldeburghs own Britten-Pears Orchestra and Aldeburgh Young Musicians.

Auditions for the orchestra took place late last year by YouTube. Young professional players from across the globe uploaded footage of their playing and were judged by Aldeburgh World Orchestra co-ordinator Marie Bennell.

She said they were asked by the Arts Council to represent Suffolk in the London 2012 celebrations and to create a musical experience that reflected the Olympic ideals.

"It seemed to us that we could assemble an orchestra that reflected youth, aspiration, global co-operation and the desire to work hard to become the best that you can be. These are not only the Olympic ideals but also what Aldeburgh is about."

Chief executive Jonathan Reekie said that the Aldeburgh World Orchestra (AWO) was conceived to dovetail into Aldeburghs education programme and to a new digital performance project Exchanging Worlds which would tie into Suffolks own Olympic celebrations and the arrival of the Olympic torch in the county.

"The Aldeburgh World Orchestra cant be about just one or two performances, its about re-shaping Aldeburgh for the future.

"It reaches out to the best young talent in the East of England and goes beyond that, reaching down to the real grass roots and working with very young children in primary school. And that is what Aldeburgh is, its making that connection, its working with very young children and providing a connection to the way to the top."

He said that it was important that the Aldeburgh World Orchestra fed into every level of their work with young musicians in East Anglia providing aspirational figures at every stage of a youngsters development.

"Its a microcosm of what Aldeburgh is. It provides a link for this journey and the Olympic ideals of inspiration and aspiration have always been part of the Britten-Pears ethos."

Phillipa Reive, head of education, said that the AWO audition videos were used to inspire the youngsters taking part in the Exchanging Worlds project which will be unveiled with performances at Snape between July 20-22.

Aldeburghs Young Musicians Ensemble will be providing specially composed fanfares for the Olympic flame as it arrives in Aldeburgh and will be on hand again to send it on its way again from Ipswich. They will also be playing at Latitude and with DanceEast in a couple of Spiegeltent performances.

Meanwhile, the Aldeburgh World Orchestra featuring 120 players drawn from 34 countries will be performing two concerts at Snape before moving on to Amsterdam and then ending up at the Royal Albert Hall for the London 2012 concert on July 29.

Jonathan said the two programmes were designed to reposition Snapes artist development programme and keep it relevant for the 21st century.

"The Britten-Pears young artists programme has been here for 40 years, it was the first of its type in the UK and it is still the biggest but the world has changed around it.

"Aldeburgh has always had a global view but I suppose it has been pretty much a western view as far as young talent was concerned its view was focused on the western world but now that maps changing. Thats incredibly exciting and therefore we need to change with it and this project is a great catalyst to allow us to do that.

"What has started to happen in the last 10-15 years, which is really exciting, is that classical music talent has started to appear in all corners of the world places where you wouldnt have necessarily expected it South America, South Africa, The Far East and we realised that if we were going to continued to attract the best talent here then we were going to need a different network."

He said that the advent of YouTube meant that anyone from anywhere in the world had had the chance to audition. It had been a wonderful opportunity to gather the best young players together in one place to celebrate the Olympic ideal.

"We have people from all over the world here, from all sorts of cultural backgrounds, speaking all sorts of languages but they have all been brought together by the universal language of music."

Interestingly though, the language of music still needs an interpreter on occasions. "Although they play the same pieces of music, the approach and the technique varies from country to country, culture to culture and it is fascinating for them to discover that.

"For example tuning is different between countries. For example an A in one country is not the same as an A in another country. Its amazing. Sometimes you find that absolutes are not that absolute.

"You would have thought that middle C is middle C where ever you are, but it isnt. The tuning in the UK is different to that in Europe even. In an orchestra like this the differences get ironed out very quickly but then we brought together a baroque orchestra from this country and a baroque orchestra from Germany and they spent the first half-a-day deciding what pitch to play in."

He added that one of the joys of the programme is that Charlotte Bray, one of the alumni of the Aldeburgh Young Musicians, has been commissioned by the BBC to write a new work for the concert and the world premiere will be at the Snape Maltings Concert Hall.

"Charlotte, like Britten before her, was inspired by the Suffolk landscape around Snape and along the Suffolk coastal strip and so it is very fitting that the work should receive its first performance in the place that inspired it."

The Aldeburgh World Orchestra and the Exchanging Worlds performances will be at Snape between July 20-22.

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