Brighton Festival 2017Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

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In photos: Week 3

Brighton Festival 2017 is over! We can't believe what a fantastic month it has been – here's a few photos from events in the last week

Photos by Vic Frankowski and Adam Weatherley

In photos: Week 2

Another amazing week of Brighton Festival 2017 has passed already! Check out these photos from some of the incredible events over the last week.

Photos by Vic Frankowski, Caitlin Mogridge and Lucy Brooks.

In photos: Week 1

The first week of Brighton Festival 2017 has come and gone! We've been really enjoying all the shows, events and happenings – here's a few pictures of what's been going on

Photos by Victor Frankowski and Adam Weatherley.

Belem: a lyrical melange of merriment & melancholy through interwoven folk, tango & classical traditions

Joe Fuller previews the pioneering spirit of the cello-accordion duo ahead of their Brighton Festival debut

The rhythmic momentum of Didier Laloy's accordion and Kathy Adam's cello in Belem should make for a rousing late night gig. The duo performed together in European folk band Panta Rhei, so this concert is of interest to those interested in world music, folk and tango as well as classical music fans, and the unique interplay of the two musicians should flourish in a live setting. I'll highlight some of the best moments from Belem's music below to explore the musical possibilities in this idiosyncratic fusion of poignant jollity.

The video below highlights the differences between the two musicians' styles. Kathy Adam is mostly classical focused in her recordings and performances, although she has also worked in theatre, dance and song. Adam often seems to provide the classical heart of the works, whereas Didier can come across as almost mischievous at times, the jester to Adam's bard. Personally, I like it when the two meet in a more plaintive mode, such as the ponderous playing around the three minute mark in this clip of Le puits, romaniste.

The melodic lines are closer to pop than classical in their occasional major resolutions, such as in album highlight Scampavita, the track which comes closest to traditional chamber music. The rhythms in their work are often folky however, conjuring images of storytelling, ales, jaunts, and energy to me, with a tinge of role playing video games fantasy about them too. There is also a tango lilt to proceedings that the more lithe in the audience might enjoy, and some parts even sound like sea shanties (such as parts of Le puits, romaniste) so there is certainly a wide spectrum of moods to absorb in the show. 

Belem should be praised for trying something new in the context of chamber music, which often focuses on string quartets. More attention is inevitably directed towards individual melodies and performing styles in chamber music, as opposed to the kaleidoscope of an orchestral concert, which can result in more moving, intimate concerts. One of my most memorable classical shows was Huw Wiggin's saxophone and James Sherlock's piano in a 2015 lunchtime Festival concert, when technically challenging pieces and virtuoso playing took my breath away. Belem's show therefore might be a good choice for classical fans who might want to hear different tones, moods and colours in a concert than what they might be used to.

Live reviews have been positive, noting that the audience has responded to melancholic elements, and the vocal quality of the cello playing. The terms poetic and tender have also been used, suggesting that years of playing together have ensured that Laloy and Adam know how to grab an audience's attention in a delicate, emotive way, which is an impressive achievement considering how loud the accordion can be. It's a novel proposition to explore the tender qualities of the accordion in fact, such as in the more downbeat track Valse Noire where Laloy provides a soft, mournful underpinning to Adam's pining cello, resulting in a brighter Max Richter-type drone around the 2 minute mark.

I wouldn't be surprised to find such a duo at a smaller, rowdier venue such as The Bee's Mouth or Komedia's Studio Bar, but the picturesque All Saints Church could emphasise the more poetic aspects of the duo's refreshing collaboration. The charismatic and energetic performers should find a receptive audience in the artful, bawdy eclecticism of a Brighton Festival crowd keen to hear something new.   

Belem performs on Fri 19 May at All Saints Church, Hove. Click for more info and tickets >

5 mins with...Ocean Wisdom

Brighton-based rapper Ocean Wisdom, who has moved up the ranks over the last 12 months with his album chaos 93, answers our quick-fire questions before his Festival event.

The band / artist that made me want to be a musician was…

Eminem / Dizzee Rascal.

My first public performance took place at…

The Dorchester Hotel.

The first gig I went to was…

Lee “Scratch” Perry.

The first album I ever bought was…

Gorillaz and The Marshall Mathers LP.

My favourite part of touring is…

Trying different food and seeing fans.

My favourite song to perform live is…

High Street.

The last song I listened to was…

Mama Said Knock You Out by LL Cool J.

The proudest moment of my career to date was when…

I completed my debut album.

The best show I ever performed was…

Paleo 16 /Thekla, Bristol 15.

If I wasn’t performing, I’d probably be…

A humble farmer tending to his cattle.

People would be surprised to learn that…

I’m fully Japanese.

Ocean Wisdom appears with The Four Owls and Jam Baxter at the High Focus Records Special at Brighton Dome on Friday 12 May.

An exclusive concert celebrates the luminous music of Monteverdi for voice and orchestra

Hearing a sublime singer has always been one of the most thrilling live experiences, in both popular and classical music. The concert with Les Talens Lyriques with Christophe Rousset at this year's Festival, showcasing works by Monteverdi, is a fine opportunity to hear the musical voice as pioneered by the highly influential 17th century composer.

Les Talens Lyriques will have just performed the works in Holland with the Dutch National Opera in the week preceding this concert, so a lot of thought will have gone into the action and drama of the pieces. This show is the only time to hear them perform this work in the UK this year: this is therefore an exciting gig on many levels, be it for the chance to see an in-demand conductor in Brighton, to celebrate the work of a magnificent composer in his 450th birthday year, to hear a rare combination of Monteverdi's works, or to see an internationally lauded ensemble in Brighton Dome's Concert Hall perform some stunning music.

The concert will feature a combination of singers and musicians without any operatic staging, which gives a clear musical focus to the performance and gives you the chance to hear some superb singers without the often intimidating cost of the opera hall. The bill is a selection of madrigals, which is a fascinating form in musical history. A madrigal is a secular vocal composition for a number of different voices, and Monteverdi strove to illuminate every shade of emotion in the poetic works by introducing music to the form (early madrigals were a capella).

You don't have to be a historian or musicologist to appreciate the concert however, just try any of my Spotify playlist to sample some of the beautiful music you'll get to hear. I've selected a punchy, fast-paced Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, because I love how the pace can hurtle along (like it does around the 6.50 mark) and then crawl down into mournful tones with a drone-like backing. It's irresistibly gorgeous, but the riveting twists and turns might take a few listens to unpack for anyone unfamiliar with early music.

You can then switch from the tragic tale of Tancredi mistakenly killing his lover Clorinda in Il combattimento to the more danceable, sprightly Il ballo delle Ingrate, which shimmers with a prominent harpsichord and decadent orchestration. Il ballo is beautiful in a more lustrous, languid and opulent manner to Il combattimento, and I've included a link to a sharply recorded version that handily breaks up all of the smaller movements to give you a taste of the diverse short bursts of the whole piece. The Overture alone is expansive and enveloping, and directly melodic in the bold way that early music can be: immerse yourself in it now to reap the musical rewards on the evening.

Lamento d'Arianna meanwhile sounds more aria-like than the other works, rendered all the more sparsely striking in Anne Sofie von Otter's performance on the playlist. The fragment from a lost opera is imbued with the grief of Arianna who longs for death in words non-Italian speakers might not understand, but the powerful, emotive vocal part is devastatingly moving regardless.

Musical Director Christophe Rousset is a renowned harpsichordist and conductor, who will conduct the upcoming production of early Mozart opera Mitridate, re di Ponto at the Royal Opera House in the summer. You can hear him conduct Les Talens Lyriques performing the work via this Spotify link if you want to hear if Rousset and his ensemble play to your liking!

Whether you're a classical muso or a music lover of any stripe, this concert presents a highly affordable opportunity to hear some of the earliest, most moving writing for voices ever composed, performed by some of the world's best singers and musicians. The works will have been carefully honed over six performances with the Dutch National Opera in the week before the Brighton gig, and it will be thrilling to hear the fresh interpretations that Les Talens Lyriques will bring to the Concert Hall.

Words by Joe Fuller 

5 minutes with... Mica Levi

Brighton Festival 2017 is hosting three events with Mica Levi: a film screening of Under The Skin accompanied by a live orchestra performing Mica Levi's intoxicating and beautiful music; Kate Tempest with Mica Levi & Orchestrate - Let Them Eat Chaos: Rearranged and The Unfilmables. Here, Mica faces a quickfire Q&A and tells us about her musical style, her fears and her best musical joke...

What do you regard as your greatest artistic achievement?

I broke in and climbed up a city building under construction with my friends as a teen, to the scaffolding’s 11th floor – that was freedom. I could tell you my worst more easily.

What do you fear?

Boredom, constant sadness, arthritis (fear itself).

What’s the most unusual performance you’ve been a part of?

My band and I played a song of ours with about 40 school kids in a church once – that was insane, it was way better than the original.

What was the first recording you ever bought?

Probably the Beatles second hand <3. But new music was 'Comin’ Atcha!' by Cleopatra (an all girl group from Birmingham, 1998).

Describe your compositional style in three words.

Bored, sad, arthritis.

If you could have any other profession, what would it be?

A pro-footballer, pro-racing driver or pro-jungle trawler. Sorry that’s three!

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

My Dad probably.

Tell us your best musical joke.

What’s the difference between the first desk of the violas and the second? A semi tone.

To read the full story please visit the London Sinfonietta’s blog.

Festival Hot Seat… Songs for the End of the World

Dom Coyote gives us an insight into a show that mixes music gig and epic theatre, inspired by Philip K Dick’s post-apocalyptic novel Dr Bloodmoney, the star-gazing world of Ziggy Stardust, and the age of austerity Britain

Can you tell us what your show is about?

Songs for the End of the World is a high-octane rock n' roll, gig-theatre show about the end of the World. It's an eccentric, angry, messy, epic, ridiculous sci-fi explosion and a good old fashioned love story. It is set in New Albion - a near-future post-brexit, austerity Britain, owned and controlled by mega-corporation New Global.

Jim Walters, a totally unprepared and hapless astronaut is shot into space to become the first man on Mars. On the day of the launch, armageddon hits and Jim’s rocket gets trapped in orbit around the dying earth. With an ever decreasing amount of Oxygen, all he can do is broadcast his songs for the end of the world in the hope that someone might here…

How and where will the work be staged?

The show is performed by a five piece band of multi-instrumentalists, Dom Coyote & The Bloodmoneys, who all transform into bizarre, comic-book like characters at the drop of a hat. You experience an eclectic, ‘50s infused music gig, at the exact same time as an eccentric, theatrical story about a dystopian future England. It will be performed at the Theatre Royal on May 16th.

Why should someone come and see your show?

If you are enraged by the dystopian world we live in right now, come and see our show.

If you want to shout at the Gods, and shake our sleeping leaders awake, come and see our show.

If you love amazing, imaginative science fiction, like Terry Gilliam's Brazil and authors like Philip K.Dick, China Mieville, Ursula Leguin, Margaret Attwood and John Wyndham, come and see our show!

If you love music, but want something more than just an ordinary gig set up, where a band of awesome musicians create a whole world in front of your eyes, come and see our show.

If you love eccentric, surrealist comedy, come and see our show.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Ten years ago, I read the most bizarre and brilliant science fiction novel, Dr Bloodmoney, by Philip K. Dick, a post-apocalyptic masterpiece with mutating animals, telepathic handymen and a man stranded in orbit, the last DJ of Earth. When the National Theatre asked me what story I wanted to tell, I said it was that one. And then I completely re-wrote it.

Also, I've worked a lot with Kneehigh Theatre. They inspired me to put live music right at the heart of storytelling, and to fill the stage with fire and anarchy. We made this show at the Kneehigh Barns on the cliffs of Cornwall and we let the wild in. Songs for the End of the World revels in it. The unkempt. The wild. The uncontrolled. The stuff of life.

It also came from listening to Ziggy Stardust on repeat.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

This story is vital. It's really all about us. Now. England. Little England, with its inflated ego, narcoleptic leaders, isolating itself from the world around it. It's about the last days of man. It's time to wake up.

This is a show for everyone. It is not hi-brow or elitist. Far from it. It's radical, provocative, and utterly accessible.

It's time to reclaim the word Populist. Populism has been claimed by the far-right, suggesting that left to their own devices, the masses want to close the doors to the world and be controlled by fear and hate.

Songs for the End of the World suggests the opposite. That people, left to our own devices, have a huge capacity for love, community, survival, and hope.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

People who love science fiction and comic books! Geeks get especially excited about this show. It's full of references from David Bowie, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut and (spoiler alert) the last line is sort of taken from a famous film about a planet ruled by apes....

Music lovers, love this show. It is really eclectic, genre wise. You can hear shades of ‘50s rock n' roll, blues, early soul, but with crunky analogue synths and a punk rock spirit. It's really contemporary, catchy and a bit twisted and inspired by mid-20th century pop music.

Also, fans of quirky alternative theatre love this show. There are artists from Kneehigh and Little Bulb in the show and it definitely has a ridiculous, epic, story based eccentricity about it.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

Well there's an apocalyptic preacher who transforms into a hideous mutant, telepathically connected to God. That's pretty surprising...

It also manages to make you laugh and cry at the same time, if we do it right...

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? Do you have a favourite Festival moment?

This is our first time playing at Brighton festival and we are ridiculously excited about it. My favourite festival always has to be Glastonbury. It is sprawling and epic and there are still dirty dark secrets in the cracks....

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?

It's obvious. Kate Tempest! I've been following her work for 10 years now, right from the early shows at Shambala and SGP. She blows my mind, every time.

Also, I am really excited about Mica Levi's live soundtrack for Under the Skin, such a gem of a soundtrack. I'm a big fan of the film and also the book it was inspired by, by Michael Faber. Creepy and unnerving, the best kind of sci-fi...

Songs for the End of the World is at Theatre Royal Brighton on Tue 16 May

In Pictures: Brighton Festival 2016

The 50th Brighton Festival is almost over, so we're taking a look back at the pictures from some of the shows and events we've loved the most. 

Picking out these images put a grin on our faces, and we hope it makes you smile too! 

Why not have a look through some more photos from this year's festival and re-live something special?

Photo credits: Victor Frankowski, Adam Weatherley, John Hunter

In Pictures: Week 2

The second week of Brighton Festival 2016 saw two performances from our Guest Director Laurie Anderson: the spellbinding Song Conversation, where she performed with fellow musician-composers Nik Bärtsch and Eivind Aarset, and Slideshow, a sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant journey touching on projects, memories and adventures from her past. 

On top of this, there were blockbuster performances from Duke Garwood and Haçienda Classical, Children's Laureate Chris Riddell answering questions and illustrating the answers live, the sonically spiritual Lou Reed Drones, and much more besides. 

Find out what's going on in the third and final week of Brighton Festival 2016. 

Photo credits Adam Weatherley, Vic Frankowski