Love classical music? Or just want to try something different? Not only is the Suffolk music scene bursting with life in the genres of pop, rock, jazz and more, it’s also a hub for classical music – and arts complex Snape Maltings is the number one place in the county to get your fill.
The history of Snape Maltings
Built in the 19th century by entrepreneur Newson Garrett, the maltings were originally intended for converting barley into malt for beer production. Snape, the village in which the maltings are situated, although small, had a bustling inland port in the 1800s. Through this port, malted barley, fertiliser and sugar beet were exported to London and the rest of the UK. However, as production in other towns grew, output in Snape declined and the maltings closed in 1960 as a result.
Luckily, for us and many other music and art lovers out there, legendary British composer Benjamin Britten was on the lookout for the perfect location for a concert hall. Britten had already established the Aldeburgh Music Festival in 1948 in collaboration with singer Peter Pears and writer Eric Crozier; however, its new 832-seat home in the largest malthouse at Snape Maltings was far more suitable than the various churches and town halls in which it was previously hosted.
The concert hall was officially opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1967. Its popularity with both the public and renowned and aspiring musicians prompted Britten and Pears to convert further disused buildings on the site into rehearsal spaces and teaching rooms, cementing Snape Maltings as a centre for music on the Suffolk coast.
The next big revamp came in 2006, when Aldeburgh Music purchased a 999 year lease on the Snape Maltings Concert Hall. The organisation invested around £14m into the venue, which, three years later, became the ‘Creative Campus’ with four performance venues and many rehearsal and public spaces.
The Aldeburgh Music Festival
Despite its name, Aldeburgh Music Festival’s permanent location is Snape Maltings, which is a 5-mile drive from Aldeburgh town centre. The festival takes place over two weeks in June each year, and hosts dozens of classical musical acts from around the world.
During this time, there are also various art exhibitions taking place in the galleries around the maltings. These exhibitions showcase a range of artists working in an assortment of mediums, from photography to moving images, to paintings and sculpture.
Snape Proms takes place each August and welcomes musicians from around the world, from solo artists to orchestras. Make sure you get tickets early to this intimate event, which offers floor seating (bring a comfy pillow!) to provide a close-up view of the action.
Don’t think that all the classical music fun takes place in summer! Britten Weekend happens over a weekend in autumn, and celebrates Snape Maltings’ founder and his impact on the world of music.
Visit Snape Maltings’ website to find out more about these events, including dates, dress code, ticket prices and more.
Staying in Snape
Snape is such a unique and inspiring part of the country (which is one of the reasons why Britten wanted to move the Aldeburgh Festival here!), so why not stay inspired by booking accommodation right outside Snape Maltings on a historic Dutch barge? Our spacious Onderneming barge is no more than a two minute’s walk from the concert halls, and we provide all the luxuries that you might need to enjoy a culturally fulfilling stay in Suffolk. Find more about Onderneming here.