Author Archives: Sam Murray-Sutton


Making your own audition video for the Britten–Pears Programme


All musicians who apply to the Britten–Pears Programme need to make an audition video. If you’re unable to get professional help doing this, and you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, don’t worry – you don’t need lots of specialist equipment to make a decent audition, in fact with a bit of care and planning you can do it with just a couple of smartphones. Here’s a quick list of tips to help you get started:



• Video recording device (phone, tablet, camera, webcam)
• Basic video editing software (iMovie, Windows Moviemaker)


• A seperate device to record audio (microphone, Zoom, phone, tablet)
• Tripod

Making the recording

• Find a friend to be your camera man/button presser
• Find a quiet room that you can use for 30mins – 1 hour
• Tidy up the space behind you if it needs it – clutter can distract visually.
• Think about your lighting – natural light is best, ideally side-on to a window. If you have a lot of light coming from behind you, you’ll be much harder to see in the final recording.
• Setup your video device, making sure you are clearly in shot
• If using an audio device as well, set this up a sensible distance away. Making a couple of test recordings should help you find the right balance of being loud enough without distorting.
• Record your intro, excerpts and pieces. They do not need to be done in one continuous take, you can shoot each seperately and edit together later.
• Stitch together the audio/video (and different takes if needed) in your editing software – simple captions are fine, don’t overshadow your performance with fancy presentation
• Upload your video to Acceptd!
TOP TIP: If recording on two devices, clap your hands before you start to make a clear sound that can be used to sync together the audio and video.

We hope that helps. If there’s anything else you’re stuck with regarding your application, please get in touch –

If you’re interested in applying for the 2017 Britten–Pears Young Artist Programme, there’s still time – find out more about next year’s programme


A few highlights from Aldeburgh Festival 2016 (10-26 June)


As many begin to wind down for Christmas, we are also gearing up to announce the full 2016 Festival programme in January. Here in the meantime, to mull with your wine over the break, is a tempting snippet of what will be on offer…

Catalogue d’Oiseaux

Sunday 19 June


The Festival centrepiece sees Artistic Director and world-renowned pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard bring Olivier Messiaen’s grand evocation of birdsong Catalogue d’Oiseaux to life as never before. He performs four concerts from sunrise to midnight on a single day, set against the panoramic backdrops and teeming wildlife of Snape Maltings and RSPB Minsmere. Hear the 77 birds evoked by the piano alongside the myriad real birds of the Suffolk coast amidst unspoilt expanses of reedbeds, marshy waters and sky.


Friday 10, Sunday 12 & Monday 13 June
For soprano, string orchestra and circus performers

Illuminations image - photo credit Sophie Merlo

photo: Sophie Merlo

We open with a newly-commissioned staging fusing music and contemporary circus performance. Inspired by the surrealism of the poems by Rimbaud set in Britten’s song cycle Les Illuminations, director Struan Leslie creates a piece that brings together soprano Sarah Tynan, a company of international circus performers and Aurora Orchestra in a programme of Britten’s Les Illuminations and Young Apollo, and music by Debussy and John Adams.

Grade 1 Challenge


Aldeburgh Music and the Britten–Pears Foundation invite anyone of any age to join our Grade 1 Challenge. Always wanted to learn the piano? Make it your New Year’s resolution and goal for 2016! Sign up at to join our piano learning group and receive support over the next six months. You could even make your Aldeburgh Festival debut on the main stage at Snape Maltings Concert Hall on the final day of the Festival!

Want to find out more?

The full programme will be announced on 13 January at

Priority Booking will open for Annual Donors on 18 January, for Friends on 1 February, and for Advanced Booking List and e-ABL on 15 February.

General Booking will open on 23 February.

Box Office Christmas closure: Please note that the Box Office will be closed from 24 December, reopening on 4 January.

Book your accommodation

We keep a list of places to stay, so you can start to plan your visit to Suffolk now. See places to stay

Get priority booking

Book up to three weeks ahead of our general booking period with one of our membership schemes. Find Out More

chiel busscher leads our volunteers during Eine Brise in Aldeburgh

The first week of the Aldeburgh Festival

Bicycles, Boulez, Benjamin, Britten & Bach and a whole load of other stuff that doesn’t begin with B featured in our packed first week at the Aldeburgh Festival. Catch up with what happened in our round-up.

The talented students of Andreas Scholl’s masterclass course showed off what they’d learnt in a recital in Aldeburgh Church on Tuesday. Each performed a song from the Baroque era solo, and we were treated to all the singers and harpsichordists together to bring the recital to a close.

828 Singers on the Vocal Masterclass Course performing together at Aldeburgh Festival

After their two exciting concerts as an orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra rounded off their residency with a chamber music concert with two different arrangements of soloists, including   Edward Nesbit’s Aldeburgh Music commissioned premiere Concerto. 

A week of heavy-weight musical performances was punctuated on Wednesday by a simple joyful moment with our band of fantastic volunteers performing Eine Brise by Kagel, a piece for 111 cyclists, to celebrate the arrival of the Women’s Tour cycle race in Aldeburgh. We were also treated to a fantastic set on our Bandstand by Aldeburgh Residency artists Project Jam Sandwich.

Our thread “Boulez at 90”, celebrating the great musician, began on Wednesday evening with the UK premiere of A Pierre Dream. Using video design by Mike Tutaj and choreographed screen moves, and featuring the Royal Academy of Music’s Manson Ensemble under the baton of Susanna Mälkki, the show presented acoustic and theatrical journey through Boulez’s life.

Our focus on Boulez’s music continued with a series of illustrated performances with Julian Anderson delving into detail on two of Boulez’s key pieces Livre pour quatuor and Piano Sonata No.3 with Quatuour Diotima and Florent Boffard playing extracts of both respectively.

Julian Anderson & Quatuor Diotima at Aldeburgh Festival

Julian Anderson & Quatuor Diotima

On Thursday, approaching the midway point of the Festival, Alice Coote and Christian Blackshaw gave a recital of Haydn, Britten, Mozart and Schubert.

Alice Coote & Christian Blackshaw at Aldeburgh Festival

Alice Coote and Christian Blackshaw

Diderot Quartet backstage at Jubilee Halll

What did Diderot do in Aldeburgh?

Diderot Quartet backstage at Jubilee Hall

Diderot Quartet backstage at Jubilee Hall

The Diderot Quartet from New York have spent the last two weeks here in Snape on a chamber music residency. They specialise in period music, and having played together in various other configurations since being students decided in 2012 to come together as a quartet.

We use gut strings of course, but we’re not trying to make big point about playing period music, we’re just trying to bring it alive and have fresh approach to the music itself.

As David Watkins [one of our tutors] said, in an ideal world we won’t have to stand on stage and explain why I don’t have an end-pin or why I have no chin-rest or why we’re playing on gut strings, it’s just another string quartet.

The Diderot Quartet on stage at Jubilee Hall

The Diderot Quartet on stage at Jubilee Hall

Probably more important than the instruments is the stylistic approach, especially for the romantic repertoire – the residency here was very enlightening because we got to work with Clive Brown, who is probably the only person who has done as much research, into playing that kind of repertoire.

They appreciated the opportunity to work with experts in romantic repertoire, who can be hard to find in the states;

The combination of the two coaches we ended up with was ideal – we couldn’t necessarily have known this ahead of time, but they were the perfect balance – they contrasted nicely, but they’ve worked together too, so they knew how to compliment each other.

And other than music, what did they like most about coming to Aldeburgh?

Clotted cream in the café here at Snape,  as well as walking on the beach in the morning – when we had time’ But their favourite part of staying in Aldeburgh was ‘going into a neighbourhood pub, where there’s one guy with his dog and chatting with us and reading our research over a beer next to the fire. That cosy pub feeling that we just don’t have in the states.

About Chamber Music in Residence

Our Chamber Music in Residence programme gives exceptional young chamber ensembles from around the world  space and time to develop style, technique and understanding in short but intensive residencies, mentored by leading UK and international figures. Every Friday lunchtime throughout spring you can see the results of their work at concerts in Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh: More details and tickets are available on our listings pages.

Alinde Quartett in concert at Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

Alinde Quartett on Aldeburgh

Last week’s ensemble in residence were Alinde Quartett. Based in Cologne, Germany, they are Eugenia Ottaviano (Violin), Axel Haase (Violin), Amélie Legrand (Viola), Lukas Wittermann (‘Cello). Established in 2010, they have a growing reputation in Europe, but this is their first visit to the UK and Aldeburgh.

Alinde Quartett in concert at Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

Alinde Quartett in concert at Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

They spent their time here working intensively with leading chamber musician Richard Ireland, an experience they found immensely rewarding, as they explained:

It’s so nice to be here, to enjoy the beauty of the place and to work here, you can really feel the history of all these great musicians who have been here, and we have lots of space and time to do what we want. We spent our time working very intensely with Richard Ireland, it’s so interesting and helped us to create something new in our playing, it’s been a very successful time for us.

What about Aldeburgh itself though? What would they recommend to other visitors?

They loved Sailor’s Path and fish and chips, but like so many visitors their recommendation was the sea view and the view from the sea, as Lukas explained:

not only to the sea, but from the sea to Aldeburgh and the landscape behind – it’s so beautiful, it’s like a painting, I tried to capture it in a photograph, but it’s not possible.

In a moment that Benjamin Britten would surely have approved of, they told me how they had braved the elements one night and journeyed down to the water’s edge –

the best moment was when three of us went to the seaside at night; it was very windy and a little bit scary as we were quite close to the water, but you could feel the strength of nature, it was great!

Alinde Quartett on the beach

About Chamber Music in Residence

Our Chamber Music in Residence programme gives exceptional young chamber ensembles from around the world  space and time to develop style, technique and understanding in short but intensive residencies, mentored by leading UK and international figures. Every Friday lunchtime throughout spring you can see the results of their work in concerts at Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh: More details and tickets are available on our listings pages.


Friday Afternoons 2014 Highlights

Girl singing at Friday Afternoons event at Snape Maltings Concert Hall
Friday 28 November was an amazing day, the culmination of a year’s effort by children around the world in learning the new Friday Afternoons songs with performances in school halls, churches, and in one case the Norway Centre for Rock Music.

Here are some of the highlights of this year’s event:

Thursday 27th

Tom Service previewed the event in The Guardian calling it “a manifestly and undeniably Good Thing”

Queen’s College Preparatory School were lucky enough to be invited onto BBC’s In Tune programme to perform a couple of this year’s songs live on the radio:

If you live in the UK, you can listen back to the whole programme via the BBC Iplayer.

Friday 28th

On the day itself we had choirs all over the UK and abroad taking part, with choirs in Greece, Norway, Brussels and the United States also involved.

Excitingly, several schools agreed to live-stream their events during the day, along with our own event taking place in Snape Maltings Concert Hall.

The first event to stream was the St Catherine’s School in Athens; you can listen back to their performance here:

Meanwhile at Snape, preparations were underway for the event in Snape Maltings Concert Hall:

Just after 12.00pm our live stream here in Snape began

You can watch the Snape Maltings Concert Hall event back here:

Soon after things got underway here in Snape, it was the turn of Brussels to begin:

Watch the live stream of Brussels here:


With Brussels and Snape coming to a close, the next live stream from Queen’s College Preparatory School in London was about to start:

Watch Queen’s College live stream

Soon after Queen’s College finished, St Wilfrids College in Wigan were getting ready to start their stream:

Watch St Wilfrid’s performance:

And we were lucky enough to have a performance from Norway, which you can see here:

Many thanks to all schools and groups who took part. We’re delighted that this brand new set of songs was so enthusiastically taken on and has inspired so many of you to learn more about singing and to sing together which is what Friday Afternoons is all about. If you haven’t yet taken part in Friday Afternoons, all the learning resources for this year’s and last year’s songs are still available on the site; whether or not you are able to take part in our annual day, the songs are fun way to get young people singing together.

Next year

2015 will see a whole new set of songs, and the return of our annual singing day in November. Look out for an announcement early in the new year – to keep updated on new developments, you can follow us on twitter or just sign up for an account on our website.

Until next year, keep on singing!

Festival update

It’s been a busy and exciting time over the last few days of the festival, with not only the massive musicircus, but outstanding orchestral music from the CBSO with Thomas Adès, sublime Schubert with the classic pairing of Bostridge and Adès, Pierre-Laurent’s stunning tour of the Etude, as well as amazing performances from young gifted musicians like Mahan Esfahani delivering a funny, informative and dazzling tour of 300 years of harpsicord music and our Ligeti masterclass students wrapping their heads and hands around the complete series of Ligeti’s études.

Silent Opera’s Live | Revive | Lament presented a series of linked operatic installations in different locations around the Snape Maltings, developed during an Aldeburgh Residency.

Another Aldeburgh Residency artist, Mahan Esfahani displayed ‘virtousity’ and ‘extraordinary technique’ (according to the Guardian) in a recital of 300 years of harpsicord music.

Thomas Adès and Ian Bostridge gave a recital of Schubert’s Winterreise song cycle, their first performance together in the concert hall since 2005.

Our Ligeti masterclasses with Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich have been in progress since Wednesday 18, culminating in a fantastic final recital earlier today:

On Sunday, An Aldeburgh Musicircus brought 1,000 musicians to Crag Path in Aldeburgh, from pianists and guitarists to bellydancers and stilt walkers, and also featuring Festival artists from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the whole of the CBSO!

A panoramic view of An Aldeburgh Musicircus

An Aldeburgh Musicircus – live updates

Phew, what a day! A massive thanks to everyone who came and took part, from our lovely performers to the wonderful crowds who really got into the spirit of the event. We’ve compiled images and videos of the event in our storify feed here. If you’ve any great pictures and videos of the event, tag your tweets and facebook updates with #musicircus and we’ll add them here too.

James Weeks and Russell Haswell on Faster Than Sound: Earthquake Mass

Earthquake MassFor the first time, this year’s Aldeburgh Festival features a Faster Than Sound event, Earthquake Mass, on Saturday 14 June. Faster Than Sound is Aldeburgh Music’s series of innovative and experimental collaborations, with new work devised and performed all in the space of a week-long residency. 

For Earthquake Mass the brilliant vocal ensemble EXAUDI and noise musician Russell Haswell collaborate to transform Brumel’s renaissance masterpiece ‘Et ecce terre motus’ or ‘Earthquake Mass’. Here EXAUDI’s director James Weeks shares his perspective on the piece and discusses with Russell how it will be performed at Snape.

All of us have pieces of music that quicken our pulse whenever their name is mentioned, or when we find that our brain has deposited them back into the flow of our thoughts. For me, even a passing reference to Antoine Brumel’s Missa Et ecce terrae motus is enough to tie a knot in my stomach and leave me short of breath: it is a work that delivers an impact so visceral, on a scale so majestic, that the listener is left reeling from its audacity. Continue reading

Contemporary Music at the 2014 Aldeburgh FestivalThe Aldeburgh Festival has contemporary music written into its DNA. The line-up at the 2014 Festival (13-29 June) includes featured composer Tristan Murail, the CBSO + Thomas Adès, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Klangforum Wien, Arcanto Quartet, Russell Haswell + EXAUDI, Jem Finer, Lavinia Greenlaw, Ben Rivers and Anya Gallaccio. Browse all contemporary events at the 2014 Aldeburgh Festival