Benjamin Britten ticket sales slow in Lowestoft hometown

Benjamin Britten at the Red House, Aldeburgh
Image caption Britten spent the latter part of his life at Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast

Only a fifth of tickets have sold for a concert to mark the centenary of Benjamin Britten's birth in Suffolk.

The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft said only 20% of seats had sold for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) concert on 29 November.

Martin Halliday, the venue's chief executive, said he was "struggling" to understand why.

"It is one of our slowest-selling events in the last decade - they just don't seem to like Britten," he said.

The RPO has had a residency at the Marina for a decade and its (non-Britten) Prom concert in June was sold out.

Mr Halliday said: "We have a lot of people who are fans of classical music, but we don't know if it's because they don't know [Britten's] music that well or whether they've been brought up to believe they won't like it or won't enjoy it."

The Marina is also showing the film version of the sell-out Aldeburgh beach production of Britten's opera Peter Grimes, which was staged in June, but only one ticket has been sold for the 8 September screening.

Image caption The opera Peter Grimes drew thousands to the beach in Aldeburgh in June

Britten was born in Lowestoft in 1913, but spent a period before and during World War II in the USA before returning to Suffolk to live in Snape and Aldeburgh, where he founded the Aldeburgh Festival in 1948.

In contrast to the Marina, Aldeburgh Music, which runs the Aldeburgh Festival, said it had sold half of the tickets for the Britten opera it is staging in Lowestoft with three months to go.

Spokesperson Shoël Stadlen, said: "People have come to associate Britten with Aldeburgh, because that's where he spent the majority of his later life, but he was born in Lowestoft, wrote his first music there as a young boy and it's where he acquired his love of the sea.

"An important part of our Britten Centenary Weekend in November is to raise awareness of Britten's rootedness in Lowestoft as well as Aldeburgh and we intend to hold more projects there beyond this year."

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