Aldeburgh Festival

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The Aldeburgh Festival is an English arts festival devoted mainly to classical music. It takes place each June in the Aldeburgh area of Suffolk, centred on the main concert hall at Snape Maltings. Beginning in 2007, the festival expanded to include the Faster Than Sound event which highlights experimental and electronic music, and 2010 saw the addition of yet another independent music event, TEDx Aldeburgh Music.

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History of the Aldeburgh Festival

The Festival was founded in 1948 by the composer Benjamin Britten, the singer Peter Pears and the librettist Eric Crozier. The original intention was to provide a home for their opera company, the English Opera Group, but the vision was soon widened to include readings of poetry, literature, drama, lectures and exhibitions of art. The first festival was held from the 5 June 1948 to the 13 June 1948 and used the Aldeburgh Jubilee Hall, a few doors away from Britten's house in Crabbe Street, as its main venue. It featured a performance of Albert Herring by the English Opera Group; Britten's newly-written St. Nicolas cantata, op.42; and performances by Clifford Curzon and the Zorian String Quartet.

Over the years the festival grew and took in additional venues such as Aldeburgh's fifteenth-century church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul and venues in nearby Orford, Blythburgh and Framlingham. In the mid-1960s the Festival gained a new and much larger concert hall with the conversion of Snape Maltings, which includes one of the largest mid nineteenth century barley malthouses in East Anglia. Most of the building's original character, such as the distinctive square malthouse roof-vents, was retained. The new concert hall was opened by the Queen on 2 June 1967, at the start of the twentieth Aldeburgh Festival.

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