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13 November 2014

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You are in: Suffolk > Entertainment > Music > Features > More malted music

Sam Wilson and Oscar Charlton

Sam Wilson and Oscar Charlton

More malted music

£16m has been spent creating a new centre for musicians from Suffolk and, indeed, the rest of the world. More of the former maltings buildings at Snape have been turned into a 350-seat theatre with practise rooms.

"Firstly, it's not just for classical music, it's about music of all kinds. One of this country's most important industries is music," said Jonathan Reekie, who's the Chief Executive of Aldeburgh Productions, as he surveyed the 350-seat Britten Studio at the converted maltings buildings.

"This centre, which is a national centre, is where we can make our best musicians better. The number of Suffolk youngsters and community groups who can make use of this space is great.

Inside the Britten Studio

Jonathan Reekie in the Britten Studio

"It's creating a lot of jobs at a time when we need jobs."

Public money has come from the Arts Council, Suffolk County Council and the East of England Development Agency. But Aldeburgh Productions, which runs Snape, said £8m has been raised from private donors.

The new Hoffman Building also consists of several smaller studios which can be used for rehearsals, practise and small-scale performances. It's named after André and Rosalie Hoffman in recognition of their generosity to the project.

In the pink

Aldeburgh Young Musicians is a project run at Snape which aims to give 'exceptionally talented' children (aged 8-16) a chance to improve their talents alongside professionals - often for free.

Two such musicians are 17 year old Sam Wilson who's a percussionist from Ipswich and 15 year old Oscar Charlton from Felixstowe. Sam goes to Junior Trinity College of Music in London and he's a member of their Symphony Orchestra, Big Band and Percussion Ensemble:

The Britten Studio, Snape Maltings

The new buildings

"I think they've done a really lovely job and it's going to be really exciting using the different spaces. Every single time I come up here, you never know what to expect.

"It's really nice having it so close to Ipswich. There are the special music schools in London and Manchester - this is a nice alternative to that. To have a place that gets these internationally known artists in every month who encourage you to branch out is something really new and amazing."

Oscar's background is perhaps far removed from the popular perception of what Snape and Aldeburgh is all about. He plays in a rock band in Felixstowe called Silk & Steel:

Oscar Charlton

Oscar Charlton

"The musicians are mostly classically or jazz-influenced which is interesting for me because I'm not around that scene. I've always have a wide range of music but this helps me explore each genre.

"Some electric guitarists come in, but also cellists etc. - it's different every time. We all connect together and the guitar is seen as just another instrument. I think we incorporate the classical and rock guitar pretty well."

Architect's vision

The Maltings have been converted by Steve Tompkins of Haworth Tompkins Architects: "I've known the Maltings for decades, so it's very much part of my history and somewhere I've always loved.

Architect Steve Tompkins

Steve Tompkins in the foyer

"These buildings were effectively part of a production line for turning barley into malt for the brewing industry. They're very robust and there's a lot of texture and history built into the walls.

"There's a most extraordinary sense of place with the marshes and these beautiful, austere, simple industrial buildings. It's a place that artists seem to enjoy coming to and making work."

Britten's dream

Snape Maltings was converted to a concert hall for the Aldeburgh Festival in 1967. Composer Benjamin Britten's dream was to support young artists and musicians and educate them in his native Suffolk. Aldeburgh Productions say the new buildings are a continuation of the vision which created the Britten-Pears Foundation.

Jonathan Reekie said it's not about putting bums on seats: "It's about a place where people can work and try new things. The main concert hall instills a certain sense of awe in the youngsters, where this is somewhere where we hope they can relax. We'll be setting up a new youth group and media project for instance."

last updated: 09/07/2009 at 15:43
created: 07/05/2009

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