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  • Snape Maltings concert hall

    © Britten Pears Arts

  • Sumidagawa

    © Britten Pears Arts

  • Interior of the Red House

    by Philip Vile © Britten Pears Arts

  • Roderick Cox

    © Britten Pears Arts

  • The Nash Ensemble

    © Britten Pears Arts

  • Kathryn Stott

    © Britten Pears Arts

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Tour Director

  • Experience the classic Japanese Noh play Sumidagawa and the work it inspired, Britten’s Curlew River, sung by an outstanding cast including Ian Bostridge and Willard White

  • The Kanneh-Masons and friends bring us their first ever performance of Schubert’s ‘Trout’ Quintet alongside works by Mendelssohn and Brahms

  • Delve into the beautiful Suffolk countryside on a specially arranged private excursion to Orford Ness

“A magical tour”

“Brilliantly led and organised”

– ACE customers on the 2023 Aldeburgh Festival tour with Nicholas Wearne

Stirred by the vast skies and moody seas of Suffolk, Benjamin Britten was inspired to launch a festival that has since blossomed into a year-round concert venue at Snape Maltings. In June each year, established solo artists assemble alongside up-and-coming musicians and internationally acclaimed orchestras to bring us works both old and new, grand and small-scale, performed in Snape Maltings’ world-famous Concert Hall as well as the venue’s newer buildings and local churches. 


2024 marks 75 years since the birth of the festival, and to make the most of the exceptional programming we are offering two departures covering both the early and later stages.


A river weaves its dramatic course through our second tour. We begin with one of the most famous and inspirational Japanese Noh plays, the traditional masked dance-drama Sumida River. Written in the 15th century by Kanze Motomasa – and preceded in this instance by a new English re-telling of the story – the tale of a mother crossing the river in search of her lost son will be performed by acclaimed Japanese artists, including Shizuka Mikata as the mother and Seigo Mikuriya as the ferryman.


The play’s modern mirror image – Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River, written following the composer’s visit to Japan – awaits us at the tour’s end; performed in the evocative surroundings of Blythburgh Church, a first-rate cast including Ian Bostridge (tenor), Peter Braithwaite (baritone) and Willard White (bass baritone) will transport us to the banks of a fictional Fenland river as a mother once again goes in search of her son.


The musical highlights continue as we hear from two world class orchestras: the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, who will perform Britten’s Violin Concerto, Bruckner’s Symphony No 7 and Mahler’s Symphony No 4; and the Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra, who bring us works by Unsuk Chin and Shostakovich. Stand-out chamber concerts, meanwhile, will happen courtesy of the renowned Nash Ensemble with British soprano Claire Booth; the multi-award-winning Czech piano trio Trio Bohémo; and the Kanneh-Masons and friends, who will perform Schubert’s ‘Trout’ Quintet for the first time. Distinguished pianist Kathryn Stott, meanwhile, will give one of her final concerts as a professional performer with a series of ‘musical postcards’ including works by Bach, Ravel and Grieg.


Taking advantage of our stay in Suffolk, the tour will offer the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere and heritage of the local area. With the memory of Sumidagawa still in our minds, we will make our own ferry journey across the Ore to Orford Ness, and enjoy a guided tour on a day when the site is closed to the general public. This fascinating and internationally important coastal reserve was once a prohibited secret military site until its acquisition by the National Trust, and today it is home to an impressive diversity of wildlife – from wetland and wading birds to Chinese water deer and a rare breed flock of sheep – as well as former military labs and an ‘Island of Secrets’ exhibition based in an old WWI building.  


In addition to Orford Ness, we will learn about the life and legacy of Britten with a visit to The Red House, the composer’s former home, and also make an excursion to Sutton Hoo, site of the famous Anglo Saxon ship burial, the discovery of which was dramatised in British film The Dig


Our base for the tour will be the characterful four-star Brudenell Hotel, situated a stone’s throw from Aldeburgh’s beachfront. The rooms, which have been sympathetically decorated, command beautiful views of the sea or Suffolk countryside. Rooms with a sea view are available at a supplement – please contact the ACE office for more details. 


Tour Director Nicholas Wearne, BA, MPhil, is a former ACE Bursary student and Senior Tutor at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. His career as a solo organist has taken him all over the world and he is a previous winner of the Poul Ruders Prize at the Odense International Organ Competition. Nicholas has held a number of prestigious positions as Organist; he was an Organ Scholar and then Assistant Organist at New College Oxford, and was Organist at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square.


Tour Director Nicholas Wearne writes:


“One of the highlights of my year is spending time staring at the sea in Aldeburgh. The 2024 festival is particularly special as we celebrate the 75th year in the organisation's history, and the programme is extremely strong. To do it justice we are offering two departures, both of which provide ample opportunity to hear the amazing sound of a big symphony orchestra in the sought-after acoustic of Snape Maltings. The second departure contains some exceptional programming; I am particularly looking forward to starting the tour with one of the most famous Noh plays, Sumidagawa, and ending it with the work by Britten it inspired: Curlew River. This will be sung at Blythburgh Church with an outstanding cast of soloists: Ian Bostridge, Peter Braithwaite and Willard White.”

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