Snape Maltings, UK
Snape Maltings is a magical place on the banks of the River Alde in Suffolk. The main venue is amazing; although it is not a huge concert hall, the acoustics are fantastic. It’s a very special place in a beautiful area surrounded by reed beds and an ocean view. The composer Benjamin Britten was inspired so much by Snape Maltings that he founded the Aldeburgh Festival of music – a wonderful celebration of music in such a special place.
New York City, USA
From a small town in England to one of the liveliest cities in the world – my second suggestion is a polar opposite. New York City is home to some of the world’s most incredible venues, including Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Everything you can think of, you can find here. It’s a melting pot of music, cultures and sounds, from musicals on Broadway to jazz in underground bars to operas on the stage. It’s a stunning place and if you have the time, you can experience so much here.
My third choice is a little off the map but deserves to be recognised more for its classical music scene. The Canary Islands Music Festival takes place each year in January/February (perfect timing to get away from cold winters and catch some sun!). They have a top orchestra – the Gran Canaria Philharmonic Orchestra – who can easily match the likes of the Berlin Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, who have performed at the festival. This is the only place in my list that I have not performed with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in 2015. I have been fortunate enough to visit all of the other locations on tour this year. Gran Canaria is, however, very close to my heart as it is where I am now based and I also play in the orchestra there.
Berlin is a city buzzing with life and music, there is something very special about the vibe there. I travel a lot with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and I am always very happy to visit Berlin. The people there are super friendly, the costs are much lower than other European cities and it has an incredible amount to offer. The culture is amazingly intense and full of life. The Berlin Philharmonic, consistently one of the highest-ranking orchestras in the world, is based there, as well as other incredibly high-level ensembles.
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
My final choice is another unusual one. Colombia has suffered a bad reputation in past years, yet its classical music scene continues to thrive. The Festival Internacional de Música de Cartagena is a fantastic celebration of music, taking place each January – another musical getaway for those cold winter months! The people of the region are very friendly and welcoming. It’s a bit different from the usual musical destinations but definitely worth considering.
Mark Hampson is a Trombonist and Founding Member of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra