Aldeburgh World Orchestra

This year, the AWO project brought 120 emerging professional musicians from 35 different countries to Suffolk; to inspire, engage and perform; raise ambition and celebrate talent on a local to international level, as part of the London 2012 Festival (which is a culmination of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. 


'Thank you for nurturing this AWO seed to full bloom. The course, tour and music moved us all beyond this world and because it was placed within your positive energy and unbounded love for music and friendship; the whole experience couldn't have been better!'
Aldeburgh World Orchestra member, 2012 

Aldeburgh World Orchestra

4 years of planning, 600 applicants, 120 musicians from 35 different countries, in residence for 3 weeks performing a total of 5 concerts. The Aldeburgh World Orchestra project came to a close on the 29 July in a spectacular performance at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms following concerts at Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Audi Ingolstadt festival and Amsterdam Concertgebouw.

Working under the acclaimed British conductor, Sir Mark Elder, the orchestra were led in performances of: Britten – Sinfonia de Requiem; Mahler – Symphony No.10 (Adagio); Shostakovich – Symphony No.5; Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring; Fanfares by two Aldeburgh Young Musicians’ composers; and a brand new BBC commission by young composer Charlotte Bray with At the Speed of Stillness.


The Journey

During the latter months of 2011, 600 applicants from over 50 countries applied and auditioned through a new process that we developed to broaden our reach of young talent. Formal auditions were out and applicants were invited to create an audition video, upload it to YouTube and, along with their CV and application form, send it to the Aldeburgh World Orchestra panel for review. Following days of watching each audition meticulously, the panel selected and informed 120 musicians from across the world that they were going to be a part of this exciting new orchestral venture.

Arriving at the beginning of July 2012, members of the Brass section of the orchestra were invited to perform two fanfares written by Alex Woolf (16) and William Harmer (12), two Aldeburgh Young Musicians, as the Olympic torch relay passed through the town of Aldeburgh on Thursday 5 July.

From there, the Aldeburgh World Orchestra was in full swing and the hard work with Sir Mark Elder began. During downtime, the multi-culturalism of this fascinating group shone through which included Salsa dancing held by the Colombian contingent in The Pumphouse. On Friday 20 July, the Aldeburgh World Orchestra made their premiere at Snape Maltings Concert Hall. From there, the orchestra embarked on a short European tour at Audi Ingolstadt and Amsterdam Concertgebouw before their finale, and the premiere of Bray’s work at the BBC Proms on Sunday 29 July.

Supported by a generous gift from General Electric on behalf of Sir William Castell



Exchanging Worlds

Exchanging Worlds is a large-scale digital project that connects the AWO to Suffolk and the region, through the creation of audio/visual installations and an elite performance ensemble of under 18’s.

Using the AWO members’ digital audition material, Suffolk based groups have created a series of audio/visual installations that are open to the public around the Snape Maltings site until the end of August. For more information about the installations, visit the Aldeburgh Education page.

Aldeburgh Education's AWO activity

As part of Exchanging Worlds we will also establish a creative performance ensemble made up of exceptional young musical talent (under 18’s) through Aldeburgh Young Musicians (AYM). This commissioning ensemble will be cross cultural and cross genre in content. Through collaborative working and the exchange of global musical conversations, new works will be created for performance at Snape Maltings Concert Hall and regional touring. For more information about the Exchanging Worlds ensemble, click the link below.

Exchanging Worlds Ensemble 


Main Exchanging Worlds dates:

  • 5 July Olympic Torch Relay contribution [AYM Composer’s Fanfare]
  • 12 July Exchanging Worlds Ensemble debut at Latitude Festival
  • 20/22 July AYM Composer’s Fanfare for Brass & Percussion [as part of AWO Concert)
  • 22 July - 31 August  Exchanging Worlds Installations go live
  • 22 July Exchanging Worlds Installations with Live Performance
  • 22 July Exchanging Worlds Ensemble in Britten Studio

Exchanging Worlds has been funded by Legacy Trust UK, creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK.