Brighton Festival 2018Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

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Kate Tempest debuts new album at secret Your Place gig

2017’s Guest Director Kate Tempest made a surprise return to the city on Sat 19 May for a secret gig as part of our Your Place initiative, performing an exclusive rendition of her unreleased new album in full at Hangleton Community Centre

Billed only as a ‘special guest’ at 5pm, the sold-out show rounded off a glorious sunny day of free entertainment for residents of the Hangleton area, presented by Brighton Festival and Brighton People’s Theatre. Tempest told the crowd that she was “thrilled to be back” and asked for no filming of the work from her upcoming third solo album. Tempest’s exclusive performance of the brand new work came after a barnstorming performance from Culture Clash, a training area for young writers and performers in the Brighton area, who performed a three way-battle of spoken artforms in Poets vs. Rappers vs. Comedians.

Kate Tempest commented: “This year I’ve come back to play a little unannounced gig at Hangleton Community Centre, which is one of my favourite places ever to play a gig, to be honest. I had this idea as part of my Guest Directorship that what would be the most exciting way to use that opportunity would be to bring some of what was happening in the Festival out to the communities around. And one of the most important things about that idea was that it had life after our year. It was such an exciting time for everyone, for the people that run the Festival to meet the community steering groups, and everyone was so blown away by how much enthusiasm and excitement there was. And now I’ve come back and it’s popping off basically, there’s a massive bandstand, everyone’s dancing, it feels really good here. I feel really chuffed and really happy to be back.”

Saturday’s line-up at Hangleton included a popular dance-a-thon through the decades from the Charleston to the Macarena with The Ragroof Players’ Happy Feet, as well as an interactive game zone for all ages with The Actual Reality Arcade. Brighton & Hove Music and Arts (who united with Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival last year) presented performances by inclusive music group Orchestra 360 and the dustbin-utilising Percussion Ensemble at Morag Myerscough’s touring Belonging Bandstand, and the Brighton-based all-female group Qukulele and Brighthun Voices’ showcase of the rich musical heritage of Hungary were other highlights on the day.

Hosted by local community centres, and programmed in collaboration with local residents and artists, Your Place brings a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. Reflecting Tempest’s belief that “the arts should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes”, the inaugural project in 2017 was a resounding success. Over 2,000 people took part in Your Place across the two weekends, and participants describing the experience as 'inspiring' and 'energising'.

Brighton Festival 2017 also heralded the Pay-It-Forward initiative (which continued this year), offering the chance to donate £5 on top of ticket prices which was match-funded to create a £10 Festival ticket voucher for someone unable to afford the opportunity. The response was phenomenal with over a thousand people choosing to pay tickets forward in the lead up to the Festival.

The East Brighton-based second Your Place weekend runs over Sat 26 & Sun 27 May and will see The Ragroof Players and Culture Clash return, along with free football sessions from Albion in the Community, a singing workshop with Banyan Tree Theatre Group, comedian Jo Neary’s new children’s show Peg in the Gallery, and much more. Go to brightonfestival.org/yourplace to find out more.

Festival Hot Seat: Tangomotan

The passion and the power of Tango are given an audacious new dimension by Tangomotán, a dynamic quartet that is weaving new musical sounds into the Tango tradition. We caught up with the quartet to find out more.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Hola, we are Tangomotán. During a concert, we, the 4 musicians (2 women and 2 men), bring the audience into pure tango music sensations. Our show is about tango: how the traditional music sounds today, and how the new compositions describe modern life. We are trying to lead our music into the biggest vertigos.

Why should someone come and see your show?
Our music talks about the struggle in life, as it was in Argentina in the 19th century (birthplace of the tango). Along our multiple concerts, we experimented how this music expresses a universal feeling of human condition and its dilemmas, that reaches everybody's heart.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The idea was to pursue the tango's story by adding new interpretations and new compositions. It was also the idea to mix people from different musical background having a common language of music in one band. Some musicians come from the tango, others from the classical music education and our roads cross a few years ago. The inspiration of this special sound mixes traditional tango music and uses the contemporary environment of each of us that come from France, Armenia, Finland and Argentina. Our music has no borders, and talks about everything.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
We believe that it is important to touch people's heart and soul and give them energy, but we don't deliver any message. Our purpose is to give people energy by the vertigos. We want that our music gives them strength to dance with the life.
We play instrumental tango, far from traditional milongas, and we claim our affiliation to the modern instrumental music, which is something rare today, because we want to popularize and defend the sensation that comes out of pure music.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I think we get too wrapped up in the mundane bricks and mortar of the world, we forget
the possibility of the unexpected, the slightly out of the ordinary. Not the through-the-back-of-the-wardrobe fantasy of a children’s story, but the excitement of finding a spiralstaircase that leads down into the dark… and the ability to go have a look at what’s down there.

What sort of person is going to love this show?
All the music lovers (we hope)!!!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?
What's surprising nowadays is the universality of the tango and the energy of this music.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
It's a great opportunity to share our music in your festival. We are very eager to live our first favourite moments in Brighton Festival. Furthermore, Brighton is a cost and sea-side like Buenos Aires!

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
We are excited to see a modern English production and to see Brighton for the very first time.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Brighton Festival Live: Ezra Furman

Ezra Furman will be live streamed from Sat 26 May at 8pm


Plus support from Du Blonde & Honey Harper
‘The kind of performer that makes you feel like a teenager all over again’ The Guardian

Tears. Heartbreak. Unbridled joy. Ezra Furman is the real deal.

Fans of Chicago’s rock’n’roll hero will testify as to the electric energy of his live shows that teeter on the edge of hysteria.

His onstage presence, hook-laden garage-punk (think Jonathan Richman meets Spector-era Ramones meets the E Street Band), and confessional lyrics about sexuality, depression, faith and politics, have all earned him a legion of followers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Back with his newly re-christened band The Visions, and hot on the heels of the release of latest album Transangelic Exodus, this is a performer that must be seen to be believed.

Du Blonde
Du Blonde, AKA Beth Jeans Houghton, is a multidisciplinary artist and musician, working with animation, illustration, sculpture, video editing, songwriting and music production.

Honey Harper
Honey Harper is both an old and a new project. The songs were written in the past three years but they’ve been around for much longer. They resist temporality and eschew spatial specificity. Whether they were written on a lake in northern Ontario, a haunted hotel room in Atlanta, or in a car at 5AM in east London makes little difference as they all reside within. Honey Harper is intrinsically honest, pure, universal country.

Festival show harnesses the power of the Tesla coil in electrifying multi-sensory performance

In XFRMR, Robbie Thomson uses the power of the Tesla coil to create a unique sensory phenomenon in a gig-cum-visual art performance as lively as electricity itself. Accompanied by live soundscapes inspired by the sounds of space weather and percussive sections rooted in industrial music and techno, XFRMR will be on at The Spire until Sunday 20th.

XFRMR is a live audio-visual performance which explores the creative possibilities of the Tesla Coil as a musical instrument. The technology is based on Nikola Tesla's 1891 design which was originally developed for long range power transmission. Tesla tamed lightning with his Tesla coil, a device that renders electricity visible. Now, more than a century later, Glasgow-based artist Robbie Thomson utilises the coil in a wholly unique way. By synthesizing the ever-changing sonic geometries of the apparatus to produce distorted tones and percussive stabs, XFRMR offers a glimpse into the subatomic relationships that govern the universe.

Housed in an imposing steel Faraday cage and accompanied by audio-reactive projections, the Tesla coil itself is a physical assault on the senses. The grid of the cage displays ever-changing geometries, as light seems to fuse with sound to make synesthetic patterns, in a unique sensory phenomenon.

This is Glasgow based artist, Robbie Thomson’s first ever Brighton Festival. He says: “I think people will be surprised by how musical the Tesla Coil can be, you can make it really expressive and create quite delicate timbres as well as distorted tones and harsh percussive stabs. I was interested in high voltage devices and so was drawn to using the Tesla coil on a visual level and from a historical perspective before I was really aware of its musical potential. The direct correlation of the sonic and visual elements and the real physicality of the coil as an electro-acoustic instrument (the air ionising to create sound and light) made it ideal to use in an artistic context.”

“The ways in which technology is being used to synthesise natural phenomena relates to so many aspects of where the frontier of science is at today. The boundaries between synthetic and natural worlds are constantly being tested (whether that be in artificial intelligence or nanotechnology) so it's interesting to consider the nature of electricity and invisible wavelengths within this context, as it is something that we usually either ignore or take for granted”

XFRMR is a Cryptic commission for Sonica in association with Cove Park. As an Associate Artist for Sonica, Robbie has toured worldwide with his kinetic sculpture, music and lighting design. XFRMR has toured extensively including sell out performances at Melbourne Festival and was selected for the Made in Scotland showcase during the 2017 Edinburgh Festival. His Cryptic projects have also been presented in Australia, France, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands and widely around the UK. 

You can see XFRMR at the Spire until Sunday.

Spotlight on Contemporary Music at Brighton Festival: Part Two

From jazz to alt-rock to folk, we've got some epic gigs coming up this May. We shine a light on just a few of the many amazing contemporary music events at this year’s Festival.

Deerhoof + s t a r g a z e

Deerhoof, an american experimental rock group, was formed in San Francisco in 1994. In a career that has spanned nearly 25 years and showing no signs of letting up, these revered rockers seem to change course on every album they release, displaying breathtaking originality, and creating a genre all of their own.

In an exclusive performance from Brighton Festival, they will be collaborating with orchestral collective S t a r g a z e. In the first half, Deerhoof’s founding member and drummer Greg Saunier presents special compositions for individual musicians based on tracks from the seminal 1993 album In on the Kill Taler by post-hardcore band Fugazi. The second half sees Deerhoof perform songs from their extensive back catalogue, before members of S t a r g a z e rejoin the band onstage for a stunning finale. Take a look at ticket availability for Deerhoof. 

Xylouris White


Xylouris White is firmly rooted in the past and future. Playing Cretan music of original and traditional composition, the band consists of Georgios Xylouris on Cretan laouto and vocals and Jim White on drum kit. Xylouris is known and loved by Cretans and Greeks at home and abroad and has been playing professionally from age 12. Jim White is an Australian drummer known and loved throughout the world as the drummer of Dirty Three, Venom P Stinger and now Xylouris White. For the last four years these two men have been performing as Xylouris White, the culmination of 25 years of friendship forged through music and place. Now they’re back with their third album Mother, more elegant and thoughtful than its predecessors yet still retaining a palpable spirit of adventure. Take a look at ticket availability for Xylouris White.

This Is the Kit

This Is The Kit is the musical project of Kate Stables, one of the most thrilling voices in contemporary folk, and whoever joins her!  In a special one-off event for Brighton Festival - Kate joins forces with multi-talented orchestral collective S t a r g a z e - one of today’s most adventurous ensembles. Retaining the intimacy of its well-loved predecessor 2015’s Bashed Out, This is the Kit and S t a r g a z e will perform a specially re-imagined version of Kate’s latest 2017 album Moonshine Freeze, the paris-based songwriter’s loosest, wildest music to date.Take a look at ticket availability for This is the Kit.

Played Twice: Miles Davis Kind of Blue and Electric Miles: Miles Davis through the ‘70s

If you haven’t been to east London’s joyous concept night Played Twice, now's your chance. The concept is simple: take a landmark album, listen to it all the way through, then hear a top-notch band reinterpret that same recording live on stage. And if this is your first time, they don’t come more masterly than Miles Davis’s pioneering jazz fusion . The band will be led by David Okumu of The Invisible and features Byron Wallen on trumpet. Take a look at ticket availability for Played Twice's performances.

Problem in Brighton 


First there was a Problem in Toulouse, then there was a Problem in New York, and now that problem is coming to Brighton. Well, Hove actually. Problem in Brighton is an alt-rock/pop pantomime written and directed by Guest Director David Shrigley exclusively for Brighton Festival. Shrigley's artwork is brought to life by the Problem Band (led by Brighton musician Lee Baker) using instruments created from his illustrations. Take a look at ticket availability for Problem in Brighton.

Discover more information on the many other amazing performances including Amanda Palmer, Nakhane and Lankum.

 You can also explore more great gigs in the first part of our Brighton Festival Music blogs.

Spotlight on Contemporary Music at Brighton Festival: Part One

From Jungle to John Surman, we've got some epic gigs to go to this May. We shine a light on just a few of the many amazing contemporary music events at this year’s Festival. 

Jungle


Jungle were one of 2014's most explosive newcomers, with their joyous funk pop seducing crowds across the globe. After releasing their massive break-out single Busy Earning, London-based soul/funk outfit Jungle flew right onto the radar in 2014 with this instant classic. Their joyous menagerie of past and future styles immediately put these hardworking musicians on ‘band to watch’ lists worldwide and sent their debut self-titled album into charts worldwide (eventually going Gold in the UK). Formed in 2013 by childhood friends J and T, they have expanded to a powerhouse seven-piece band to perform the music live, creating a spectacular on-stage effect.
Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Mon 7 May, 7.00pm. Book now on the event page. 

John Surman


Chris Jones, reviewing for the BBC, has called John Surman “one of the foremost innovators when it comes to defining the saxophone's place in modern music” and The Times said of him: “In his ability to blend some of the methods and textures of modern jazz with a wholly English sensibility, Surman is a true original.”

John Douglas Surman is an English jazz saxophone, bass clarinet, and synthesizer player, and composer of free jazz and modal jazz, often using themes from folk music. He has composed and performed music for dance performances and film soundtracks, and worked with a huge variety of musicians.
St George's Church, Thu 10 May, 8.00pm. Book now on the event page. 

Nakhane


Despite being a relative newcomer to the global music stage, Nakhane is an LGBTQ trailblazer with a powerful voice. One of South Africa’s most exciting talents as an award-winning singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, he is a truly unique voice in modern pop. Listen to his beautiful rendition of You Will Not Die from his album of the same name above.
St George's Church, Sat 19 May, 2.30pm. Book now on the event page

Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita


Between two world class virtuosos, comes a  meeting of harp and kora. Leading classical harpist Catrin Finch and inspired kora player Seckou Keita combine forces to explore the traditions of Wales and Senegal. Both nations share a centuries old bardic-griot tradition of intricate oral history expressed through music, song and verse. The harp and the kora, instruments from the same family, occupy a vital place in these rich cultures. Catrin and Seckou dig deep into Manding and Celtic roots whilst adding a fresh sound of their own. They will be performing music from their long-awaited second album Soar, inspired by the migration of the osprey.
St George's Church, Sat 26 May, 2.30pm. Book now on the event page. 

Les Amazones d’Afrique

West Africa's first all-female super group has formed in the fight against violence towards women. This incredible collective of female stars are singing out against gender inequality over a soundtrack of funk, blues and dub. Inspired by the formidable warriors of Dahomey, Les Amazones d’Afrique elegantly combine the Mandingo tradition with the power of today’s African megacities. The women of Les Amazones d'Afrique have decided to use music as their weapon in an attempt to address the mentalities that continue to perpetuate disempowerment.

This collective features some of the greatest Malian musicians of the moment: Mamani Keita, Rokia Koné, Mariam Doumbia, Awa Singho and Mariam Koné. Between them they have years of charitable work supporting other women, alongside personal struggles of illness and disability that have been overcome.
Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Thu 24 May, 7.30pm. Book now on the event page. 

For more information on the many other amazing performances including Amanda PalmerXylouris White and Lankum, see the full Contemporary Music Programme. You can discover more about the great gigs coming up this May in the second part of our Brighton Festival Music blog.

Grime, art and science collide to re-imagine culture for Brighton Festival

Last Dance: The Wave Epoch is a unique collaboration between grime DJ and producer Elijah, musician GAIKA and visual artists Haroon Mirza and Jack Jelfs that imagines what culture will be like in 2000 years time.

Devised and created at the world’s largest scientific experiment – the Large Hadron Collider at CERN – the immersive club experience imagines a scenario where the collider has been rediscovered by a future civilisation and turned into a ceremonial site, similar to Stonehenge.

Elijah, whose label, Butterz, has made him a leading name in grime, has been Artistic Director at Lighthouse developing the Last Dance programme for the past year. Last Dance is a series of events that look at the changing nature of club culture, of which The Wave Epoch is the great crescendo.

Elijah says: Last Dance: The Wave Epoch [is] a club experience with a deeper layer, full of sound, music, and colour. The ecosystem of club culture is breaking down. Clubs are shutting down; music ownership is going over to streaming services. Because of that, the spaces where young musicians and artists collaborate are changing.

“I’ve been playing in clubs all over the world for ten years, and I’ve seen culture changing right in front of me. Technology plays a big part of that change – camera phones have now become a big part of a club experience – images and video are part of the dance floor. So, social platforms like Instagram, Instagram stories and Snapchat become an immediate contact to a different audience. Whatever new technology comes in, people won’t stop gathering together for a shared experience. Last Dance: The Wave Epoch is a physical manifestation of all these ideas.”

Collaborating on Last Dance: The Wave Epoch are internationally acclaimed visual artists Haroon Mirza and Jack Jelfs who are renowned for creating immersive environments by connecting light, sound, music, video, text and performance and building on a mutual fascination with media, time and transmission. GAIKA is an artist and musician whose expansive, experimental sound blends the sonic textures of the streets, influenced by Brixton, Jamaica and Grenada.

Also performing at Last Dance: The Wave Epoch are two Brighton based DJ collectives: all-female DJ collective Shook, who specialise in Jersey club, footwork, hip-hop and trap, and Off-Peak, an underground club night run by a collective of artists and producers specialising in grime, dubstep and UK garage.

For more information visit lighthouse.org.uk, or the event page on the Brighton Festival website.

Folk group Lankum score a double win at the 2018 Folk Awards

The self-called "Dublin folk miscreants", Lankum, were big winners at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards at Belfast's Waterfront Hall on Wednesday, winning two awards on the night.

Combining distinctive four-part vocal harmonies with arrangements of uilleann pipes, concertina, Russian accordion, fiddle and guitar, and with a repertoire spanning music-hall ditties and street-songs, classic to their own original material, this Dublin four-piece are at the forefront of bringing traditional song to a new generation. Mark Radcliffe calls them ‘a turning point in folk… [the] authentic voice of the streets’. 

‘There is folk that wants to whisper in your ear, and then there is the music of Lankum: urgent, desperate and detonating.’ So wrote The Guardian’s in its five-star review of Lankum’s latest album, Between the Earth and Sky. No wonder then, that Lankum were named Best Group, beating Elephant Sessions, Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band and Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys to picking up the covetable award.

 
The quartet also won Best Original Track for their song The Granite Gaze, receiving the award from folk music great Ralph McTell.

Lankum will be playing on Friday the 18th of May at St George's Church. For more information, see the event page. 

Festival Hot Seat: The Boy, The Piano and The Beach

The Boy, The Piano and The Beach is a lovingly created show by Lewes based Slot Machine Theatre. It is a story about adventure and transformation, full of warmth, music and surprises. We talked to artistic directors Nick Tigg and Nicola Blackwell to find out more.

Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Our show is called The Boy, The Piano and The Beach, and it’s an epic adventure told through puppetry, projection, dance, with the whole story set to live piano music. Turn it inside out and it’s a piano recital with an amazing visual story. It opens with a young boy waking on a beach - and the tide coming in fast. Before he can escape, the world of the beach begins to shift, objects start to take on a life of their own, and an unearthly sound lures him into a big adventure - into another dimension.

How and where will the work be staged?
The show is on at the Brighthelm Centre on North Road, from the 5th-7th May. Brighthelm itself is a really family-friendly venue, in central Brighton near to the station, with a great cafe and plenty of space for buggies, wheelchairs etc. 

Why should someone come and see your show?
Whole families can come and see The Boy, The Piano and The Beach together: it's not just for kids, there's something for all ages, which is how we make all of our family shows. If you like live music and a richly imaginative visual world, then this is for you.

As a show with no spoken word, it’s highly accessible for families, including those with SEN children and adults. There is a relaxed performance on the 6th of May, and bespoke touch tours available on request from box office for those with impaired sight, or those on the autistic spectrum.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
We took a lot of inspiration from Selkie myths - selkies are seal-like beings that emerge from the sea. When they take off their special coats, they can become human. There's a lot of selkie myths from around the north coast of Scotland, they're sort of like mermaids, but a bit more scary and interesting! We are also inspired by the work of our award-winning projection artist, Will Monks. Will makes amazing textural projections for theatre, dance and bands, and we’re hugely excited to be working with him.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
It’s important because it’s a story about adventure and transformation and finding your way back home. It’s also important because of it’s elements: Dance, beguiling visuals, puppetry and the incredibly varied world of piano repertoire. We are really passionate as a company about making world-class work accessible to the most diverse audiences we are able to reach. And we love work that is relevant across generations and abilities.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Cutting-edge, international work and world class performances, all brought to our city.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
We love David Shrigley so we’re looking forward to his exhibition, and the music made from his writing. Brownton Abbey looks brilliant too. Also, Hofesch Shechter, that’s exciting, No Fit State are great, Kneehigh and their Chagal show we really want to see, Blaas looks interesting, Malcolm Middleton’s versions of David Shrigley works are funny and interestingThe Wave Epoch looks good - too much, too much.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability.

Five of the Best…Feminist Festival events

To coincide with International Women’s Day - a global celebration of the economic, cultural, social and political achievements of women that takes place on 8 March each year - we shine a light on just a few of the many amazing female fronted events at this year’s Festival.

Les Amazones d’Afrique 
Les Amazones d'Afrique is a supergroup of 10 incredible West African female performers, both international stars and local musicians. Members include Mariam Doumbia, part of Amadou & Mariam, Nneka, Mariam Koné, Mouneissa Tandina, Rokia Koné, Kandia Kouyaté, Mamani Keita, Massan Coulibaly, and Grammy winner Angélique Kidjo. Using music as a weapon, the group fight against gender inequality. For example, money earned from their single ‘I play the Kora’ provided extra funding for the Panzi Foundation, a service that supports and treats survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As sung in ‘I play the Kora’, Les Amazones d'Afrique encourage their listeners to "rise up and fight injustice because we're all equal”.
Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Thu 24 May, 7.30pm. Book now on the event page. 

Bridget Christie
Bridget Christie is an English stand-up, actor and writer, often acclaimed for her feminist material. This May she is here with her latest show What Now?. Christie burst onto the Comedy scene with A Bic for her (named after the pen manufacturer who released a biro with a “slimmer barrel designed to fit more comfortably in women’s hands” and available in a range of “pretty pastel colours”) in 2013. Not only is Christie a proud human rights campaigner, but she also worked closely with Leyla Hussein - a psychotherapist and female genital mutilation survivor and campaigner. The pair made a short film for the 2017 Stand Up for FGM benefit in London. Since its production the film has been used to educate police officers, GPs and children.
Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Fri 18 May, 8pm. Book now on the event page

Viv Albertine
Viv Albertine is not only former lead guitarist of iconic riot grrrl female trio The Slits, but she’s also a celebrated writer. The Slits defied expectation, becoming a strong figurehead for young and empowered women at the time. Albertine's memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. is a brutally honest portrayal of growing up in the Thatcher years. It was a Sunday Times, Mojo, Rough Trade, and NME Book of the Year in 2014, as well as being shortlisted for the National Book Awards. 
Brighton and Hove High School, Tue 22 May, 8pm. Book now on the event page.

Shami Chakrabarti
Shami Chakrabarti is a British Labour Party politician and member of the House of Lords. She is a barrister, and was the director of Liberty, an advocacy group which promotes civil liberties and human rights. Chakrabarti describes inequality as ‘the greatest human rights abuse on the planet’, and in her new book, On Women, she lays out the huge challenges women still face with honesty and clarity. Gender injustice, Shami Chakrabarti shows, is an ancient and continuing wrong that is millennial in duration and global in reach.
Brighton and Hove High School, Sat 26 May, 8pm. Book now on the event page.


Ursula Martinez: Free Admission
Ursula Martinez is a London-based Anglo-Spanish British writer, performer, and cult cabaret diva noted for her use of nudity and non-actors. Martinez fuses theatrical concepts, personal experience and popular forms to create innovative, challenging, experimental theatre that is highly entertaining and reflective of our contemporary, post-modern world. She will be bringing Free Admission to Brighton Festival, a one-women play about absurdity of modern living.
The Old Market, Mon 14 May, 8pm. Book now on the event page.

Tenor and Bass singers sought for Brighton Festival’s unique choral project

Brighton Festival & The Voice Project seek extra male voices (16+) to perform as part of a unique new choral project, The Arms of Sleep.

Set to be one of the highlights of the Brighton Festival programme, The Arms of Sleep is an unforgettable overnight sleepover experience created by directors Sian Croose and Jonathan Baker in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like and immersive night of music and stories, sound and images. 

Choir members will need to be available for up to three performances from Fri 11 May to Tue 15 May (approximately 7pm - 11pm, and returning at 6 - 8am the following morning). Brighton’s own Kirsty Martin – Choral Conductor for Brighton Festival 2018’s Depart and Musical Director for several Brighton choirs will be co-running some of the rehearsals.

Rehearsals have been underway for the last two months and are going really well. However, The Arms of Sleep Choir is still in need of male voices. If you're a Tenor or Bass and would like to be a part of our unique project, join us at one of our rehearsals below at The Basement;

Rehearsal dates for 2018 (later dates and times subject to change):

Sat 3 March - 10.30am - 4.00pm
Tue 6 March - 7.30pm - 9.45pm
Wed 21 March- 7.30pm - 9.45pm
Sat 24 March – 10.30am - 4.00pm
Tue 10 April- 7.30pm - 9.45pm
Sat 14 April 10.30am - 4.00pm
Sun 15 April- 10.30am - 4.00pm
Wed 25 April - 7.30 - 9.45pm
Tues 1 May - 7.30pm - 9.45pm

Rehearsals on site from 8th May - exact dates and times TBC

Should you decide that you would like to partake in this very exciting project, a member's fee of £20 will be required. (Please speak to the Voice Project administrators for bursary solutions).

For more information please contact info@voiceproject.co.uk

LOOK AT THIS! David Shrigley Brighton Festival Tips

Under David Shrigley's directorship, we are going to have an amazing Brighton Festival 2018 - he’s pretty good at picking and making great shows and events. Obviously, we’ve loved a lot of his work, but here are some of his picks…

Brett Goodroad
Brett and I met in 2013 when we were both on an artist-in-residency programme in Headlands Centre for the Arts which is near San Francisco. We became good friends, and he’s just a really interesting visual artist: an amazing painter, print-maker and he also make great drawings. Brett has never exhibited his work in UK: I thought it would be a great opportunity to have his work shown here.

Brett is also a truck driver because lower-income artists don’t seem to be well supported in the United States. Most people there who are visual artists have another job as well. Oddly Brett is a truck driver which is not an easy thing to do. He drives organic vegetables from northern California to southern Texas once a week. It’s an interesting job for a visual artist to do and he’s an unusual truck driver.

Shrigley Talk & Big Book Group
I’m doing a talk about my work, which is something I do periodically. I show images of my work, and I waffle on about it and try not to make it boring! Big Book Group is an event which Craig Melvin is hosting. Craig has hosted it quite several times, and this year Matt Haig – who’s Brighton based - and Jess Kid are speaking. I think that it will be a really interesting event because they’re both really fantastic writers… and then there’s me who isn’t really.

Deerhoof 
Deerhoof are a rock band from San Francisco who I made a record cover for about ten years ago. We’ve stayed in touch ever since. They’re a fantastic band, and a band whose music is not just great on record, but also really makes sense live. So, as the Guest Director, I, they were near the top of my list for bands I wanted to bring. Whenever anyone sees them play a live show, they’re always blown away by them. They’re also going to be doing a collaboration with Stargaze which is going to be well worth seeing.

Life Drawing II
Life Model II is the second incarnation of the life model piece that I made for the Turner prize show. The first one was a male, whilst this one is a female figure. Everybody who visits the exhibition is invited to make a drawing of the life model, and all the drawings will form part of the exhibition. 

Those drawings will form the two-dimensional aspect to the exhibition. It’s a piece about drawing, it’s a piece about everybody being included, about participating and making an exhibition yourself. I suppose that the arts – visual art particularly – is often seen as elitist and inaccessible. I suppose that’s what the piece is about; that art is for everybody, and that making art is for everybody too. It’s an artwork that begets other artworks and invites you to think about who’s the artist and who’s the subject.


Iain Shaw
Iain Shaw is also a friend of mine, from Glasgow. He’s a singer-songwriter in the tradition of Elliott Smith or Jackson C Frank. I wrote a lot of silly lyrics and he made them into some really wonderful songs, quite wistful, pop, folky type songs that he’s done largely with acoustic guitar. It’s a great collaboration.

A Shit Odyssey
A Shit Odyssey is a fly on the wall documentary about the making of Pass the Spoon, an opera I made in Glasgow in 2011. A Shit Odyssey was made by Cara Connolly and Martin Clark who are friends of mine. They are documentary film makers from the fine art world in Glasgow. It’s a project that’s taken around seven years to finally be shown! I think that will be a voyage of discovery to see a slightly younger version of myself, making a fool of myself. It is really a very interesting documentary because it’s a really, really strange project. So that will be fantastic.


Ezra Furman
Ezra Furman is, I think, one of the best writers of pop songs around today. He’s somebody I haven’t seen play, but I’ve got all his records. I’ve always managed to be out of town when he’s visited before, so this is just a great opportunity. I’m really looking forward to it.

Bridget Christie
Bridget Christie is a brilliant comedian from London. Again, she’s a person whose proper show I’ve always managed to miss. I’ve seen her in a small vignette of her acts that she did at an event, but I wanted to see the full show. Fortunately, she said yes to performing at the Festival – so I’m really looking forward to that!


Malcom Middleton
Malcom Middleton is well known as a solo artist; however, he is also part of the influential indie rock band Arab Strap. Malcom and I made a spoken word record together a couple years ago and I’ve also made some artwork for album covers for him. I’m a big fan of his music. I think he’s one of the best singer-songwriters in the country at the moment, or at least of his generation.

The Problem in Brighton
The main project that I’m bringing to the festival is called Problem in Brighton and it’s a new musical theatre piece. It’s a bizarre rock and roll opera in collaboration with Lee Baker, a visual artist and a talented musician. I’m not really a writer as such, but I thought it was an opportunity to make something in Brighton, sort of my first project that’s made here – the first big project – outside my studio. It’s an opportunity to get to work with people, with a venue and it’s part funded by the festival which is really great! Lee’s writing the music and then some other people I’ve met will be playing the music on instruments I’ve created. 

Spotlight: The Arms of Sleep

Discover more about The Arms of Sleep, a Brighton Festival Co-commission with Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

In one of its most ambitious and magical productions to date, The Voice Project takes us on an epic 10-hour immersive overnight experience of choral music, film and animation set in the beautiful grounds of historic stately home Firle Place.

Through dusk and darkness to dawn, drift and dream with The Voice Project Brighton Choir as you travel into the space of sleep.

Head to our event page to find out more about ticket availability
Video produced by echovideo.co.uk
Stills by JMA Photography

Spotlight: Your Place

Your Place returns to the Brighton Festival with another exciting programme of free theatre, art, dance, music, outdoor games and workshops. For the past year, the community steering committees of East Brighton & Hangleton have been working together to create a vibrant weekend of arts and activities for their local communities.

Brighton Festival, Brighton People’s Theatre and the community steering groups are proud to bring back Your Place for a second year following its wonderful success in 2017. Expect new and exciting additions including bouncy castles, delicious food and more activities for people of all ages.

Artists joining us this year include David Shrigley, The Ragroof Players, The Future is Unwritten Theatre Company, Herringbone Arts, Joanna Neary, Kate McCoy, Culture Clash, Touched Theatre, Dundu and Worldbeaters, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and many more.

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk

Spotlight: Your Place

Your Place returns for a second year with another exciting programme of free theatre, dance, music, art, outdoor games and workshops. For the past year, the community steering committees of East Brighton & Hangleton have been working together to conjure up a weekend of adventure for the people of their local areas.

Now, Brighton Festival, Brighton People’s Theatre and the community steering groups are proud to bring back Your Place following its wonderful success in 2017.This year will feature lots more exciting additions including bouncy castles, delicious food and more activities for people of all ages.

Artists joining us this year include David Shrigley, The Ragroof Players, The Future is Unwritten Theatre Company, Herringbone Arts, Joanna Neary, Kate McCoy, Culture Clash, Touched Theatre, Dundu and Worldbeaters, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and many more.

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk

Singers sought for Brighton Festival 2018's ‘The Arms of Sleep’

Brighton Festival & The Voice Project seek to form a new choir to perform as part of a unique audience sleepover project and invites people over 16, who enjoy singing, to join a new choral project The Arms of Sleep, for Brighton Festival in May 2018.

The Arms of Sleep is an overnight experience for the audience, where the choir provide music in both the morning and evening. The Arms of Sleep is a large-scale choral music-theatre piece devised and directed by Jonathan Baker and Sian Croose from the acclaimed Voice Project.

The Arms of Sleep will be presented on the Firle Place estate, near Glyndebourne, where audiences of up to 50 people will each be given a comfortable bed, to experience a dreamlike night of music and stories, sound and images.

There will be a preview on Fri 11 May, followed by performances beginning on the evenings of Sat 12 May to Tue 15th May and concluding the following mornings (full details to be confirmed).

Voice Project Co-Director Sian Croose said ‘We’d like to welcome absolutely anyone over 16 with a desire to sing to join the choir. There are no auditions and all rehearsals are conducted in such a way that no previous experience of singing or music is required.’

For performances, choir members will be performing between approximately 9pm - 11pm, and 7am - 8am the following morning. Rehearsal dates are below and each choir member would need to be available for up to 3 performances.

The Arms of Sleep is a co-production between The Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Brighton Festival, and the Voice Project and was a huge critical success in May 2017 in Norwich. The music for The Arms of Sleep has been specially written by Brighton-based composer Orlando Gough, Jonathan Baker and Helen Chadwick.

There is a no-obligation taster session for anyone who thinks they may be interested in joining the choir at The Basement, 24 Kensington Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 4AJ on Sunday 7th January 2018, 10.30am-1pm. 

Should you decide that you would like to partake in this very exciting project, a members fee of £60 will be required.
(Please speak to the Voice Project administrators for bursary solutions).

The Voice Project’s Sian Croose and Jon Baker will be joined by Brighton’s own Kirsty Martin who will be co-running some of the rehearsals. 

For more information please contact info@thevoiceproject.co.uk
To book on to the taster session and express your interest in the project follow the link below. 


Fill out this form to register your interest

The Voice Project are based in Norfolk and were founded by joint artistic directors Sian Croose and Jonathan Baker in 2008. They have taken their unique vision of what a community choir can be to international jazz festivals in mainland Europe, appeared on prime time French TV and had one of their London concerts broadcast on BBC Radio 3. The Voice Project Choir is now one of the best-known choirs in the East of England, having given many hundreds of singers the opportunity to take part in unique creative performances of high quality new vocal music.

Listings info: The Arms of Sleep Taster session
Sun 7 Jan 2018, 10.30am-1pm
Location: The Basement. 24 Kensington Street. Brighton. East Sussex. BN1 4AJ
No obligation taster session, everyone welcome, no experience needed.

Rehearsal dates for 2018 (later dates and times subject to change):

Sunday 7th January 10.30am-1.00pm
Tuesday 23rd January 7.30pm-9.45pm
Wednesday 7th February 7.30pm-9.45pm
Wednesday 21st February 7.30pm-9.45pm
Saturday 3rd March- 10.30am-4.00pm
Tuesday 6th March- 7.30pm-9.45pm
Wednesday 21st March- 7.30pm-9.45pm
Saturday 24th March – 10.30am-4.00pm
Tuesday 10th April- 7.30pm-9.45pm
Saturday 14th April 10.30am-4.00pm
Sunday 15th April- 10.30am-4.00pm
Wednesday 25th April- 7.30-9.45pm
Tuesday 1st May- 7.30pm-9.45pm

Rehearsals on site from 8th May- exact dates and times TBC
Fill out this form to register your interest

Your Place returns for Brighton Festival 2018

Brighton Festival’s Your Place - two weekends of free entertainment in Hangleton and East Brighton, delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre - is set to return for 2018 following last year’s inaugural programme.

Hosted by local community centres, and programmed in collaboration with local residents and artists, Your Place brought a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. A resounding success, over 2000 people took part in Your Place across the two weekends, with participants describing the experience as 'inspiring' and 'energising'.

Brighton Festival 2017 Guest Director Kate Tempest said of the thinking behind the initiative: “We thought it was important that as well as having this very exciting, cosmopolitan festival happening in the city centre, with all this buzz and hype and all this energy that gets built up from people seeing something, spilling out on to the street, it also represented the wider population of Brighton who maybe can’t afford to get in to the city centre. We wanted to bring a bit of what was happening in the Brighton Festival out to a bit more of Brighton.”

2017 highlights included workshops and performances from Kate Tempest, acclaimed photographer Eddie Otchere, award-winning poetry slam champion Tommy Sissons, Appalachian folk artists Anna and Elizabeth and a new Brighton Festival commission from Three Score Dance and Ceyda Tanc Youth Dance company. Discover more about this year's Your Place:



Valerie Foucher, Hangleton Community Centre Manager and a member of the Steering Group said: “When we were told our premises had been chosen for Your Place it was fantastic news yet we were so far from imagining that it would be such a collaborative process. Bringing an entire weekend of workshops and performances with so many talented artists and a technical and front house back up of such high standard, not to mention having Kate Tempest perform her Let Them Eat Chaos album was so amazing we still haven’t fully recovered from it. Most importantly it has inspired us. Your Place has opened a door that we do not want to close again.”

Brighton Festival and Brighton People’s Theatre are currently looking for small-scale performances, workshops or exhibitions by local community groups, schools, youth groups and local artists living in Hangleton or East Brighton, as well as professional artists to be a part of Your Place 2018.

Naomi Alexander, Artistic Director of Brighton People’s Theatre said: “Having amazing artists like Kate Tempest performing in community centres in the city created a fantastic buzz. We'll be building on what worked so well and are also introducing two new elements to Your Place in 2018. One is a co-commission between Brighton Festival and Brighton People's Theatre to put an artist in residence into community centres in East Brighton and Hangleton who will collaborate with local people to create a new performance for Your Place. The second is programming art made by the local community. We know there is a lot of creativity in Hangleton and East Brighton and we hope to hear from local choirs, school shows, youth music groups, knitting or crafting groups who would like to be part of the Your Place programme."

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “Bringing Brighton Festival together each year is a great privilege, but it is vital to us that the Festival continues to reflect and involve the whole city. One of the key things about Your Place is that the communities have been really engaged in the overall planning and management of the project and it felt really important to be able to build on this work and the relationships we have developed again this year. Our hope is that this project will continue to expand and grow and become something that everyone looks forward to as part of Brighton Festival each year.”

Your Place 2018 will take place in Hangleton Community Centre and Hangleton Park (19-20 May 2018) and Manor Gym, basketball court and playing fields in East Brighton (26-27 May). 

If you would like to find out more about how to get involved in Your Place 2018 please visit our webpage

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 

Interview: Stewart Hurwood on Lou Reed Drones

'I like to think of it as a sonic massage…'

As we host the UK premiere of Lou Reed Drones, an installation of guitars in feedback mode, Lou Reed’s long-time guitar tech and right-hand man Stewart Hurwood tells us about what it was like to work with a music legend, how the piece came about and exactly what he hopes audiences will get out of it…

How did you meet Lou Reed and how long did you work with him?

I worked with Lou Reed for the last ten years of his life. I became his right-hand man handling many more things than just his guitars, equipment and managing the stages he played on.

What was Lou like to work with?

Lou was very demanding on everyone including himself. He was always pushing his art and didn't want to stand still or rest on his laurels. This made the work extremely challenging and very rewarding.

How did Lou Reed: Drones come about? Was it something you discussed directly with Lou?

In 1975 Lou Reed released Metal Machine Music. This was a noise album featuring a constant drone of guitar feedback from start to finish, in fact, the album was made so the end would continually repeat until you lifted the needle from the record.

Around 2008 Lou wanted to tour and perform a noise type improv similar to Metal Machine Music. We did extensive testing of guitar feedback and ultimately Lou decided that we would use four guitars and amplifiers feeding back as the foundation of the Metal Machine Trio Tour. It was during this testing that Lou Reed gave the title ‘The Drones’ to the four guitar, amp wall of feedback.

During that tour in Sydney, while setting the feedback Lou shouted to me: "I feel healed in The Drones"! He was ill at the time and I fully acknowledged the gravity of his statement.

What was Laurie Anderson’s role?

After Lou passed there was a meeting at his house. People were discussing what should happen to Lou Reed's guitars and equipment. Many said the equipment should be in a museum. I spoke up and said, "Lou would hate his instruments gathering dust, he was about moving forward and creating". I told Laurie Anderson about my experiences with Lou Reed and The Drones, how I wanted to use them as therapy for Lou and the idea of a feedback wall. Laurie Anderson said: "The feedback wall is a great idea...and YOU must do it"!

Laurie set things in motion and I performed a three hour (MM3) session at The Steven Kasher Gallery on 23rd Street in Chelsea, NYC. Laurie Anderson and Antony Hegarty were deeply moved by the tribute and a second session was scheduled...this time at The Kitchen in NYC.

Laurie was invited to perform in a tribute show for Ornette Coleman at The Bandshell in Brooklyn. She had The Drones as part of the performance. I set a soundscape foundation and Master Ren Guang- Yi (Tai Chi teacher to Lou Reed) performed The 21 a movement created for Lou Reed.

Laurie came out on stage with John Zorn and Bill Laswell and all three improvised over The Drones. ...it was beautiful!

What exactly will the audience be able to see/hear/do?

Ideally the room will be pretty dark with some slow moving lights generated from a mirror ball. The idea is to instigate a little disorientation and second guessing about the space you're in. I will set soundscapes in motion these will encourage the listeners' imagination to open.

They can sit, lay, listen, meditate, sleep, cry, dance, chant, perform Tai Chi - whatever they get emotionally from the sounds they can react to. I would encourage people to drone along, making their own drone resonating inside their chest cavity. The sound is interactive changing with the movement of people within the space, other sound sources (musicians and instruments, or chants etc.).

How many guitars are there in the installation? Were they all owned by Lou?

I tour with seven guitars, six are leaning against the amps ready to be included in the soundscape, I can use the extra guitar to swap out a guitar and alter the tunings available to me. All the guitars and amplifiers were owned by Lou Reed...many of which people have seen Lou play live, or in videos of live gigs.

How has the installation been received to date?

The Drones fall between an installation and performance art as I manipulate and interact with them. People, even musicians as usually surprised by how musical and moving it can be.

What do you hope audiences will get out of it?

I hope that they experience the gateway of their imagination to be opened! The Drones generate so many harmonics in the air that people hear different things within the drones; some hear birds, or horns, brass bands, others hear strings, or voices. In addition the sound waves hit the body perhaps penetrating and shaking internal organs, releasing endorphins etc. I like to think of it as a sonic massage!

I had one person tell me, amazingly he slept during parts of the performance. He went on to say he suffers with insomnia and the vibration had made him feel incredibly relaxed... he had a great nap and vivid dreams. I see this as a success!

And finally…. Exactly how loud is the feedback?

Not as loud as Metallica...louder than a string quartet...at times approaching the sound and volume of Lancaster bomber but more musical!


Head this way for more info on free event Lou Reed Drones


The Brighton Commissions

For our milestone 50th Festival, we have commissioned more new works than ever before, including many by Brighton artists or about Brighton itself. Wildly different and each fascinating, the 'Brighton Commissions' below are presented as a tribute to our home and the talent within it.

Brighton: Symphony of a City
One of the Brighton Festival events people still talk about is the screening of Battleship Potemkin (2005) with Ed Hughes’s new score in the Hove Engineerium. When Ed and Brighton based filmmaker Lizzie Thynne proposed a Brighton homage to Walther Ruttmann’s 1927 silent classic Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, we grabbed the opportunity to celebrate Brighton in all its festive, bohemian, campaigning, fun-filled glory.

Charles Linehan Company
Loved by dancers and dance audiences, Brighton-based choreographer Charles Linehan (The Fault Index/ The Clearing, 2011), brings us a contrasting double bill of new works including one with William Trevitt and Michael Nunn (BalletBoyz). Described by The Guardian as ’one of our classiest choreographers’ Charles’s return to Brighton Festival in our 50th year feels especially appropriate. 

The Complete Deaths
Another match made in Brighton. Leading physical comedy company Spymonkey (Oedipussy, 2012 and Cooped, 2006) and award winning playwright and performer Tim Crouch (I, Caliban, 2003, I, Peaseblossom, 2004, I, Banquo, 2005, An Oak Tree 2006, I, Malvolio, 2010 and what happens to the hope at the end of the evening, 2014) come together to re-enact every onstage death from the works of William Shakespeare in a sublimely funny tribute to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. We’re holding onto our hats. 

Digging for Shakespeare
Marc Rees studied in Brighton with Liz Aggiss and has gone on to make wonderful work with communities and for specific sites, most notably with National Theatre Wales. He brought us the captivating story of James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps who was a world-renowned Shakespearean scholar in the 19th Century and an eccentric recluse. When Marc suggested making this piece on the Roedale allotments where Halliwell-Phillipps lived it was too beguiling an idea to pass up. 

Dr Blighty
One of the most affecting and complex stories of the Royal Pavilion Estate is its use as a military hospital for wounded Indian soldiers in World War I. As we work towards reunifying the Royal Pavilion Estate to bring collections, heritage and the arts together to create compelling new work for the Estate, the opportunity was ripe for Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove and ourselves to work with British Asian performance company Nutkhut and with 14-18 NOW to commemorate this special chapter in Brighton’s history.

The Last Resort
Using binaural technology to create a shifting world of sound, Brighton-based artists Rachel Champion and Tristan Shorr (who worked with Charlotte Spencer on Walking Stories, 2013), working as Art Of Disappearing, have created an immersive work set on Portslade beach that takes a wry look at science fiction traditions and dystopian societies. 

Operation Black Antler
Two Brighton Festival Associate Companies come together in an exciting new collaboration. Blast Theory (Rider Spoke, 2008; Fixing Point 2013) are celebrated for their inventive use of technology and their thought-provoking subject matter. Hydrocracker have delighted and terrified audiences with Shakespeare á la Carte (2008), the uproarious The Erpingham Camp (2009), and the chilling production of Pinter plays The New World Order (2007 & 2011). Having these two companies working together has been on all our wish lists for a number of years. 

Stella
Veteran Brighton artist Neil Bartlett (Oliver Twist, 2004, The Maids, 2007; For Alfonso, 2011; What Can You Do?, 2012; Britten: The Canticles, 2013) is one of Britain’s most individual theatre makers and a generous friend of Brighton Festival. We’re honoured that Neil’s wonderful, intense and distilled new play, inspired by the life and death of Ernest Boulton, can open in Theatre Royal Brighton before going on to performances at London International Festival of Theatre and Holland Festival.