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Aimard returns as Artistic Director of Aldeburgh Festival in June

Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival since 2009, Pierre-Laurent Aimard – the Grammy Award-winning French pianist – returns to lead the beloved UK institution in its 66th year, which is also the centenary year of founder Benjamin Britten. The festival’s programming ranges from Bach and Byrd to Stravinsky and Shostakovich and to premieres by Elliott Carter, Jonathan Harvey, Judith Weir, Poul Ruders, Wolfgang Rihm and Magnus Lindberg, among others. Aimard himself will perform a century’s worth of works from Britten to Boulez, and will co-present a tribute to Elliott Carter with composer-conductor Oliver Knussen. Of course, the festival will also feature many signature works by Britten, including a concert performance of his iconic opera Peter Grimes and a host of chamber, instrumental and vocal pieces. Praising Aimard’s directorship of the festival, the Financial Times said: “Quaintness is part of Aldeburgh’s charm, but it gives a misleading impression of the festival, which is as sophisticated and up-to-the-minute as the town is endearingly behind the times. That distinction has become black-and-white since Pierre-Laurent Aimard arrived as Artistic Director two years ago. … Aimard, a French pianist with a gift for creative programming, has virtually turned the festival on its head. Suddenly, Aldeburgh feels less parochial, less precious – and very international.”
Reflecting on his thought process for this summer’s Aldeburgh Festival, Aimard says: “There were two questions about the Britten centenary in Aldeburgh. The first was: How to make a birthday festival that would not just be a collection of pieces by the founder of the festival? The second was: What else, apart from Britten? One answer was to present his operas and other works with new pieces composed as an homage to his music. Another dimension comes with the other events and composers. There is a strong portrait of Jonathan Harvey, who left us so sadly this winter. There is a big homage to Elliott Carter. Since I have arrived at the festival, we have had one major Carter commission or event every season. Also this summer, there will be the strong presences of John Eliot Gardiner with double Bach evenings, the residency of the Quatuor Mosaïques, and so many others.”
As pianist, Aimard will perform in several concerts during the festival, including a duo concert with cellist Valérie Aimard, his sister. On June 8, the two Aimards will perform pieces by Shostakovich and György Kurtág, as well as cello sonatas by Britten and Elliott Carter. On June 11, Pierre-Laurent Aimard will give an epic solo recital titled “Piano Century: 1913-2013,” which will range from Debussy, Stravinsky, Ives and Messiaen to Cage, Ligeti and Helmut Lachenmann, along with pieces by Prokofiev, Schoenberg, Bartók, Cowell, Stockhausen, Carter, Boulez, Harrison Birtwistle, Marco Stroppa, Tristan Murail and George Benjamin. Aimard will also premiere new commissions from young composers in the Britten-Pears Young Artist Program. On June 15, he will perform Stockhausen’s Kontakte, with Samuel Favre on percussion and Marco Stroppa on sound diffusion. On June 22 Aimard will participate in three concerts, first joining pianists Tamara Stefanovich and Nenad Lecic to perform major works from 1913, then presenting a tribute to Elliott Carter with Oliver Knussen, featuring the world premiere of Carter’s Epigrams, a piano trio written for Aimard. Lastly will be a concert of 20th– and 21st-century music with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, including a world premiere by Magnus Lindberg. Full details of Aimard’s programs as a performer are below.
With Aimard as Artistic Director and composer Colin Matthews in the role of Guest Artistic Associate, this summer’s Aldeburgh Festival will present some of the best and brightest from across the globe, along with top artists from the UK. Performers include Britain’s Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra under Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the Latvian Radio Choir, Israeli conductor Ilan Volkov, Swiss pianist Christian Zacharias, English tenors Mark Padmore and Ian Bostridge, the New London Children’s Choir, Norway’s Vertavo String Quartet, the UK’s Ensemble 360, the period-instrument string quartet Quatuor Mosaïques, the Britten Sinfonia, Royal Ballet Flanders, British viol consort Phantasm with countertenor Iestyn Davies, the Arditti Quartet, the BBC Concert Orchestra under Guy Barker, English soprano Emma Bell, the Tokyo String Quartet, New York’s Mivos Quartet and Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra under Sir Mark Elder, among others. For a complete list of artists and repertoire, as well as the films, lectures and masterclasses that round out the festival, go to
In August, Aimard returns to the U.S. as director of Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music. His programming highlights the works of composers Helmut Lachenmann and Marco Stroppa, along with music by György Ligeti, Conlon Nancarrow, and Steve Reich, and Elliott Carter’s Instances, a Tanglewood commission presented in its East Coast premiere. The festival will conclude with the U.S. premiere of George Benjamin’s acclaimed opera Written on Skin in a concert performance.  
Pierre-Laurent Aimard at the Aldeburgh Festival
June 8
“Aimard & Aimard”
Aldeburgh Church, 11am
Valérie Aimard, cello
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
Shostakovich: Aphorisms
Elliott Carter: Cello Sonata
György Kurtág: Jelék for solo cello; Jatékok for solo piano (excerpts)
Britten: Cello Sonata
June 11
“Piano Century: 1913-2013”
Snape, 7:30pm
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
Prokofiev: Sarcasms, op.17 – 2. Allegro rubato, 3. Allegro precipitato
Scriabin: Five Preludes Op.74 – 3. Allegro drammatico, 4. Lent, vague, indécis
Debussy : Étude 3 pour les quartes
Schoenberg: Five Piano Pieces, op. 23 – 2. Sehr rasch, 3. Langsam
Webern: Klavierstück
Stravinsky: Piano-Rag-Music
Bartok: Out of Doors Suite – 1. With Drums and Pipes, 4. The Night’s Music
Ives: 3 Improvisations
Cowell: The Banshee
Messiaen: Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus – 14. Regard des anges
Boulez: Sonata for Piano #1, 1st Movement
Stockhausen: Klavierstück VIII
Cage: 4’33″
Murail: Cloches d’adieu, et un sourire
Lachenmann: Guero
Kurtág: Jatékok for solo piano (excerpts)
Carter: 90+
Birtwistle: Harrison’s Clocks – Clock 2
Stroppa: Miniature Estrose
Stroppa: Passacaglia canonica
Benjamin: Shadowlines – 2. Wild, 3. Scherzando, 4. Tempestoso
Ligeti: Etude No. 6: Automne à Varsovie
June 15
”Stockhausen: Kontakte”
Britten Studio, Snape, 10pm
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
Samuel Favre, percussion
Marco Stroppa, sound diffusion
June 22
“Piano Century: The Year 1913”
Britten Studio, Snape, 11am
Tamara Stefanovich, piano
Nenad Lecic, piano
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
Debussy: Jeux
Zimmermann: Monologues
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring
Pierre Boulez: Structures, Book 2
“Epigrams: Tribute to Elliott Carter”
Britten Studio, Snape, 6pm
Presented by Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Oliver Knussen
Members of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Elliott Carter: Epigrams (world premiere)
Trije glasbeniki (UK premiere)
String Trio (UK premiere)
Rigmarole (UK premiere)
Snape, 7.30pm
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Oliver Knussen, conductor
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
Britten: Sinfonietta
Henze: Des Kaisers Nachtigall
Carter: Dialogues
Carter: Dialogues II (UK premiere)
Magnus Lindberg: new work (world premiere)
Lutoslawski: Venetian Games 
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© 21C Media Group, May 2013

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