Get ready for TEDx Aldeburgh Music on Nov 6th

On November 6th I’ll be hosting an exciting TEDxAldeburghMusic event at the Snape Maltings in Suffolk, UK, home of the Aldeburgh Music festival, featuring an excellent lineup of performers including Imogen Heap, William Orbit, Martyn Ware, Tim Exile and Tod Machover.

I’ve written a lot about the TED Conference here over the last few years, but in case you didn’t know, I’m TED’s music director, which means I help select and book the musical performers for the events, as well as providing the House Band. TED now has two regular annual events, the main one in Long Beach in Feb/March, and TEDGlobal in Oxford in July. A year ago we launched TEDx, ‘an independently organised TED event’, which enables any community or venue to stage their own mini-TED conference, within certain guidelines. TEDx events must be not-for-profit, and can use a quota of pre-recorded TED talks; but you must bring in your own speakers, video their talks, and send the results back to for possible inclusion on the main site. There has been an astonishing response to TEDx program over the last year with over 1500 events taking place all around the world.

Aldeburgh Music is an organisation that hosts the Aldeburgh Festival of mainly classical music. It was set up in the 1950s by composer Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears. My mother was the first secretary of the Festival, when the audience was about 100 people and it took place in the Jubillee Hall in Aldeburgh. As it grew, a new venue was selected: The Maltings at Snape, a beautiful disused industrial building complex set in the reed marshes on the upper reaches of the Alde river. I have a family connection there too—my great-great-grandfather was the brewer Newson Garrett who built the Maltings in the mid-nineteenth century where his company loaded malt onto Thames sailing barges bound for London and the Continent. So I’ve been going there for as long as I can remember, and Kathleen and I got married there in 1988. I even remember watching its huge roof burn in a terrible accident one night in 1968. It was subsequently rebuilt, and is now better than ever, housing the Britten-Pears Music School, as well as several peripheral buildings including the newly completed Hoffman Building which is used for extra activities such as Faster Than Sound, a series of experimental electronic music events, performances and installations. The expansion has been brilliantly masterminded by Aldebugh Music’s dynamic CEO Jonathan Reekie.

As I’m now living close to Snape again with my family, Jonathan and I had been thinking it would be nice if I could get involved in Aldeburgh Music in some way. Keen to grow Aldeburgh’s scope beyond just performance of music, he was very interested in TED, and when the TEDx program started up it seemed like an ideal opportunity to put together something that might even turn into an annual event. So the idea for TEDxAldeburghMusic came about. Joana Seguro, who produces the Faster Than Sound series and runs multimedia company Lumin, was engaged as Producer, and the three of us began lining up speakers and refining the theme. After a few months of planning we settled on a date and a speaker lineup.

So I’m pleased to announce that on Nov 6th TEDxAldeburghMusic will take place at the Snape Maltings, Suffolk. It will be a day-long, all-music themed event, featuring live talks and performances by Imogen Heap, William Orbit, Tod Machover, Louis Lortie, Martyn Ware, Tim Exile, United Visual Artists, David Toop and others. You can read their biogs here. As is always the case with TED events, speakers have a maximum of 18 minutes onstage, which means that during the course of the day the audience will witness a rapid-fire succession of brilliant speakers and performers, with a diverse range of wild ideas that will hopefully blend into a coherent theme. The main areas covered will be the creative process; music software and hardware tools and techniques; music in the community; and the future of the music business itself. Mixing up talks, live music, demos and video, along with some of the musical higlights from the last few years of the main TED Conference, I’ll be introducing the program and (hopefully) tying it all together. It promises to be a great day.

The proceedings kick off at 10am and last until 5pm or later. TED events are very interactive, so bring your friends or make new ones. It’s perfectly ok at TED to continue and expand the ideas presented onstage via conversations with complete strangers in the foyer or in the lunch break. Tickets are a very reasonable £20  (£15 if you’re under 27) and you can buy them here.

More information at:

5 Responses to “Get ready for TEDx Aldeburgh Music on Nov 6th”

  1. robertbest says:

    This is such an excellent development Thomas. I can only sit back here in Canada and kick my own arse that I am not in a position financially to attend this terribly attractive event. It truly grieves me, seriously! Just capping off some DMA music composition studies at University of Toronto and have to keep shoulder to plough for at least another year (going to Snapes Malt would be such an inspiration right now for my thesis composition process!!). I can only hope that the TEDxAldeburghMusic is a huge success and really there should be NO empty seats for something this artistically dynamic and important. If it is as successful as I hope, I will be able to make it the following year and will start putting aside some resources for it. I just wrote a composition that reflects some of the cross-over academic, global-trends of music media themes that seem to be part of the goal of TEDx. I wrote a piece for string orchestra, 2 flutes, percussion, celesta and looping processed vocals. It is a tribute to another tribute of Benjamin Britten! I essentially explored some alternative modalities and textures as a creative response to Arvo Part’s “In Memory of Benjamin Britten”. That is very moving work for me. Britten has an outstanding catalogue of great music and I had no idea that he had this connection to the Aldeburgh music festival. Fascinating your own family ties to this really lovely part of England too, very nice. So hope its an amazing day on NOV.6th and I will be there in spirit at least. Thank you Thomas for continuing to pioneer so many excellent artistic dialogues and innovations throughout your career. Be well! RB

  2. Doc Jon says:

    This sounds absolutely fascinating, and thanks for providing such an interesting background commentary to both the event and the venue.

    Every year I try to attend at least one non medical conference as part of my official professional development in an attempt to maintain some semblance of work/life balance – and this ticks all the right boxes on a scale I could never have imagined!

    Ticket booked, see you there!

  3. astronaut says:

    we have many innovative folk around here – i will look into starting one.


    Two additional EPs are to follow during 2010, culminating in a physical CD release that will add additional songs and complete the set. A multi-city live tour is likely for 2011.

  4. cyberyukon says:

    William Orbit is one of those guys with whom I would love to spend an afternoon. The guy is just the best when it comes time to painting with synth patches. He’s to sythns what Monet was to painting. And producing? He’s got it down. Anyone remember his old website with the trippy music and the water-wave patterns that would ripple across his photo?

  5. [...] Thomas writes more about the event on his own blog >> var [...]