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Chris Watson At Place: Roots Weekend
Laurie Tuffrey , January 25th, 2013 13:07

Aldeburgh Music event to feature new commission inspired by Benjamin Britten as part of brilliant weekend programme

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You might have noticed at the end of our Chris Watson interview yesterday a plug for the PLACE: Roots - Journeying Home event, taking place next weekend, February 1-3.

Hosted by Aldeburgh Music, the festival established by Benjamin Britten in 1948, the annual weekend of events this year celebrates the centenary of the composer's birth, and takes its titular theme from a passage Britten wrote in 1951: “Even when I visit countries as glorious as Italy, as friendly as Denmark or Holland - I am always homesick, and glad to get back to Suffolk. I treasure these roots, my Suffolk roots; roots are especially valuable nowadays, when so much we love is disappearing or being threatened, when there is so little to cling to.”

The first night of the festival will premiere a new commission by Chris Watson, 'In Britten's Footsetps'. Every morning after composing, Britten would set off for a walk around his home, Red House, a wandering that Watson has retraced by recording sounds in Aldeburgh throughout the year, which are assembled in this new piece, accompanied by some of Britten's music performed live by cellist Oliver Coates.

Watson will also be guiding people on the routes that Britten walked, along with RSPB volunteers, to try and catch some of the birdsong that the composer would have heard.

Elsewhere, the weekend is filled with some excellent events, with a discussion on the meanings of home anchored by Britten biographer Paul Kildea, who'll be launching his new book over the weekend, taking place on Saturday, with Geoff Dyer, Marina Warner, Ali Smith, Ronald Blythe and East Anglian art press Full Circle Editions all joining the debate. There will also be a screening of Ben Rivers's film 'Two Years At Sea' accompanied by music from tabla player Talvin Singh, while on Sunday architectural historian Ken Worpole will be talking about "the utopian promise of social housing", Ruth Padel on the idea of migration, Patrick Wright will reflect on the "exile localism" of Uwe Johnson and Blake Morrison will read first-hand accounts of the Great Flood of January 1953.

Tickets are £50, cut to £25 for under-27s; to get hold of them, and for more details, head here.