Mixing it up at Snape Proms

TONY COOPER If you think Snape Proms are all about classical music, think again. As TONY COOPER reports, the August favourite works hard at offering something for everyone.

TONY COOPER

Following the 60th Aldeburgh Festival, the magical Snape Maltings concert hall hosts the Snape Proms running throughout August.

While the June festival probes the depths of classical, contemporary and experimental music, the Proms offers a more eclectic choice featuring music from a myriad of traditions and genres performed by musicians of varied backgrounds and nationalities.

The offerings include world music, folk, jazz, poetry readings, comedy, piano recitals, chamber music, symphony orchestras and other unclassifiable ensembles such as the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (August 19).

An electrifying evening of Caribbean-influenced jazz by Jazz Jamaica, one of Britain's finest big bands, get things under way on Wednesday August 1 while jazz diva, Claire Martin, homes in on Suffolk on August 7. A regular visitor to Snape, her latest project pays tribute to the grand lady of American jazz, Shirley Horn.

One of the giants of the jazz world, Jacques Loussier, take over the stage on August 12, reworking some of classical music's best-known works to bring out the innate swing and syncopation while the unorthodox Scottish-based ensemble, Mr McFall's Chamber, presents crossover classics on August 14 in a similar manner, but including elements of tango and rock as well as the world premiere of a brand new piece by Gavin Bryars.

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The previous day, Back to Basie: Live at the Sands returns with vocalist Matthew Ford for a memorable portrayal of the Live at the Sands concert featuring all those Count Basie classics, plus songs from the Rat Pack-era Sinatra.

In addition to the jazz offerings, the Proms also includes five folk music concerts featuring traditional music from Northumbria, Scotland and Eastern Europe.

On August 5 the Kathryn Tickell Band features the award-winning artist who has done so much to bring the music of her native Northumberland to an international audience.

Kate Rusby brings her winning mix of traditional folk ballads and original songs to the Maltings on August 30 and in contrast to her gentle take on English folk, the son of the “king of skiffle”, Lonnie Donegan, 24-year-old Peter Donegan (who appeared at the Norfolk Country Music Festival last weekend) performs his “electric skiffle” on August 28 comprising a mix of folk, blues and rock and roll.

Rounding off the folk music theme is Swiss-based band Kolsimcha. Having made their Snape debut in 2005 as the World Quintet, the “fantastic five”, as titled by the LA Times, are back on August 21.

At the heart of any Aldeburgh experience is its commitment to classical music and the Proms is no exception. Serious classical music comes with a couple of pianist/directors: Piotr Anderszewski leads the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (August 2) and Pierre-Laurent Aimard takes charge of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (August 23).

More piano music can be heard by Christian Blackshaw playing Schubert, Schumann and Liszt (August 10) while Paul Lewis continues his Beethoven marathon on August 16.

More chamber music is represented by the dazzling and inventive Leopold String Trio (August 24) showing off their new member, the Dutch violinist, Isabelle van Keulen.

Sir Edward Elgar is being feted on his 150th anniversary in the Philharmonia Orchestra's concert (August 25) with two of his best-loved works - Serenade for Strings and Enigma Variations - conducted by one of his foremost interpreters, Andrew Davis.

There'll also be plenty of opportunities for audiences to participate in the Proms, with everything from salsa lessons, a family percussion day and a gospel workshop to the 65th Aldeburgh Carnival Parade on August 20. Don't miss it!

t Snape Maltings, box office 01728 687110, www.aldeburgh.co.uk

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