Brighton Festival 2019Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

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What's On: Must-see Events This Weekend at Brighton Festival

We’ve had an incredible few weeks at Brighton Festival. With a jam-packed closing weekend, here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening…


Cooped
Wed 22-Sun 26 May

As Spymonkey celebrate its 20th anniversary, don’t miss the opportunity to catch the show which made them an international comedy sensation. Cooped, a deliciously demented take on the pulp gothic romance – think Hitchcock’s Rebecca meets The Pink Panther

Read our interview with Spymonkey to find out more


Silence

Wed 22-Sat 25 May

Poland’s Teatr Biuro Podrozy make their Brighton debut with this extraordinary large-scale spectacle, a moving insight into the lives of ordinary citizens trapped by war. Using light, sound and pyrotechnics to conjure the visceral reality of war.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Thu 23-Sat 25 May

Shakespeare’s magic-filled comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream is performed in the open air by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Bring a chair or a rug to enjoy a glorious May’s evening watching one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays. Experience this enchanting performance, overflowing with Elizabethan costumes, fairies, sprites, dukes, confused lovers and music and dance.

True Copy
Thu 23-Sun 16

Based on the true story of possibly the most successful art forger in the world, BERLIN uses its genre-curious style to expose the hypocrisy of the art world.


SESSION
Thu 23-Sun 26 may

Part gig, part social and part dance party, the show is led by an ensemble of young dances who move across hip hop, contemporary folk and Afrobeats – celebrating community, youth and belonging. Join us for a high-energy night of dance and live music!


Peter Sellars and Rokia Traoré
Fri 24 May

Join our Guest Director, Rokia Traoré and Peter Sellars as they explore our world through the lens of humanity, compassion and art. Warm and intimate, this is a conversation not to be missed.

New Daughters of Africa
Fri 24 May

In 1992, Margaret Busby edited what Carol Boyce Davis described as ‘one of the most significant assemblages of writers across the diaspora’, effectively collating oral and written work from women of African descent.. A quarter of a century later, Margaret Busby has edited New Daughters of Africa, with over 200 writers and a much greater focus on the contemporary. Experience the newest new daughters first hand as Margaret Busby introduces three exciting UK contributors - Candice Carty-Williams, Irenosen Okojie and Catherine Johnson.

Varhung: Heart to heart
Sat 25 May

Taiwanese Tjimur Dance Theatre presents a richly patterned performance that shows how the Paiwan people, not used to discussing private feelings, use artforms to bring them to the surface. Experience a deeply emotional and open-hearted performance.


Our Place – Hangleton Community Centre
Sat 25 May

For the third year running we’ve been working in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, Due East, Hangleton and Knoll Project, and the community steering committee to enable local residents to make their vision come to life. This year the communities have taken control of the event, bringing more free family-friendly theatre, dance, music, games, activities and workshops to Hangleton and East Brighton. View the full programme here.


A Jar of Pickles & a Pinch of Justice with Chinta Soundar
Sat 25 May

Chitra Soundar has collected and retold some ancient trickster tales from India in which young Prince Veera and his friend Suku get into a pickle or two. The king is away, and they have the power to run his kingdom! What will they do? Come and listen to Chitra bring these stories alive in Brighton.

Another Star to Steer By
Sat 25-Sun 26 May

Another Star to Steer By is a magical 45-minute play (for audiences of 6+) celebrating the special power of storytelling, using drama, humour, audience participation and singing.

Read our interview with writer Andrew McCaldon


BOYS
Sat 25-Sun 26 May

The PappyShow celebrates male tenderness, silliness, vulnerability and community with a cast of young men of colour from England, BOYS gives us a window to share their experiences, their hopes, families and globe-spanning heritage.

Read our interview with The PappyShow to find out more about BOYS


Neneh Cherry + Celeste
Sat 25 May

Join iconic Swedish singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry for an evening as she shares her new album 'Broken Politics' along with Brighton native, Celeste.

Neneh Cherry at Brighton Festival

Acts of Care
Sat 25 May

Author of Distortion and Financial Times journalist Gautam Malkani joins author of Hold Michael Donkor at Brighton Festival this May. Discussing the 'Acts of Care' and their novels along with Naana Orleans-Amissah, a counsellor and literary enthusiast.

Safe
Sun 26 May

Derek Owusu, Mostly Lit podcast host and editor of SAFE: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space, is joined by Okechukwu Nzelu and Stephen Morrison-Burke as he leads a conversation that embraces family, mental health, the LGBT community and grime music.

A Child of our Time
Sun 26 May

This special concert is performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra alongside Brighton Festival Chorus and a cast of world-class soloists and promises a deeply emotional journey and particularly poignant end to our 2019 Festival programme.

Don’t miss out – it’s your last chance to check out Iron Men and Current Affairs

Everything You Need to Know About 'FREE': Our Place's New Musical Inclusivity Project

If you haven't yet heard of Our Place, Brighton Festival's community outreach programme that became a community-run mini festival of its own, you're missing out on a load of fantastic and totally free events taking place over two weekends in Hangleton and Whitehawk. Even more exciting - this year, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts have announced that a number of young musicians from their free drop-in sessions are performing as 'FREE', an eclectic, diverse range of musical styles from this generation's budding talents. 

Sat 18 May

Young musicians aged 13-19 from SoundCity Drop-in sessions are performing as part of The East Brighton Our Place community takeover event held at Manor Gym. Catch the group performing a live ‘SoundCity Drop-in showcase‘ onstage from 3:30 – 4:30pm in the Green Space. Artists will be performing a diverse mix of incredible music including original material and covers from rap and rock through to acoustic solo, electronic beats and beyond!

Sat 25 May 

Members from ‘U Studios 2’ drop-in sessions will be performing at the West Brighton Our Place community takeover event from 6:30 – 7:30pm. Artists will be showcasing the amazing music they have created including Hip-Hop, Grime and Trap beats, plus live rapping and a young women’s vocal group!


(Above: Laura Grunwald)

The SoundCity Drop-in and U Studios 2 are free music sessions for young people. Established in 2018, they are part of a four-year programme fully funded by Youth Music and as part of the national initiative Alliance for a Musically Inclusive England. The programme aims to offer 13-19 year olds living in the East and West Brighton areas greater inclusion & access to music making activities that are responsive to their unique interests and needs.

East Brighton’s SoundCity Drop-ins, held at Greater Brighton Metropolitan College’s Wilson Avenue site, are delivered by a creative team of Music leaders from Brighton & Hove’s Music Education Hub SoundCity, local charity AudioActive, and The Brighton Metropolitan College.

West Brighton’s U Studios 2 sessions held at Hangleton Community Centre & Knoll Park pavilion are delivered by music leaders from Brighton & Hove’s Music Education Hub SoundCity, local charity AudioActive & youth workers from The Hangleton & Knoll Project.

Our Place

To read more about Our Place's journey since its beginning in 2017, see our blog post 'From Your Place to Our Place', featuring a great video of past years' events. 

For information on how to attend Our Place, see the Hangleton Our Place event page, or the Whitehawk Our Place event page

What's On: Must-see Events This Weekend at Brighton Festival

We’ve got an exciting weekend ahead! From free community events, classical music to theatre and dance – we’ve got it all. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening…

Flight
Sat 4-Thu 23 May

Flight brings you up close and intimate to this heart-breaking story in a unique, deeply individual experience. Seated in your own personal booth, you will watch the action unfold on images and models slowly moving in front of you, with speech and music conveyed through your own individual headphones.


My Left Right Foot: The Musical
Tue 14-Sat 18 May

After sell out success at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe, My Left Right Foot makes a visit to Brighton Festival. Irreverent, uplifting and provocative, it is a must-see for lovers of humorous musicals.


Backbone

Wed 14-Fri 17 May

The internationally renowned circus company, Gravity and Other Myths, takes the concept and perception of strength and (literally) tosses it into the air. In this ‘dazzling and warm hearted’ performance (The Independent), individual and collective resilience is tested as the company tumble, backflip and walk across each other’s heads – Backbone explores the limits of emotional and physical endurance.


Séancers

Thu 16-Fri 17 May

Join performance artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts  as he explores black identities through a piece that brings together movement, song, spoken word and a live score.

Learn more about Jaamil's inspiration behind the show 


Young Glyndebourne Young Artists

Fri 17 May

As part of Glyndebourne’s commitment to supporting the development of young singers, the international opera company works with Jerwood Arts to provide innovative training and performance opportunities for selected members of the acclaimed Glyndebourne Chorus. This special concert from this year’s Jerwood Young Artists features excerpts from across the operatic repertoire.

Chamber Music Will Ashon with Kevin Le Gendre
Fri 17 May

A conversation on a new biography of the Wu-Tang Clan’s iconic hip hop album with Will Ashon and music journalist Kevin Le Gendre

Brighton Festival Youth Choir Under the Moon
Fri 17 May

Inspired by the Museum of the Moon, our choir have assembled an eclectic songbook of moon music ranging from classical to jazz.


Museum of the Moon
Fri 17-Mon 20 May

Hanging in Queens Park, Museum of the Moon will offer a unique experience free for all. Whether you plan to explore the surface with your family, or enjoy a lunar picnic, don’t miss your chance to be beneath the moon.

Learn more about the inspiration behind Museum of the Moon

credit Ed Simmons and Visit Greenwich

Flavour Migrations
Fri 17 May

Masterchef winner, Shelina Permalloo joins us to discuss how heritage, family and travel has shaped her cooking

Songs of Longing and Exile
Fri 17 May

Award-winning early music vocal ensemble Stile Antico joins with remarkable Syrian oud performer Rihab Azar for a unique collaboration inspired by the challenges faced by today’s refugees and migrants.

Find out more about Stile Antico's creative process and inspiration 


Our Place – Manor Gym
Sat 18 May

In partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, Due East, Hangleton and Knoll Project and the community steering committee to create a community takeover. This year the communities are bringing FREE family-friendly theatre, dance, music, games, activities and workshops to East Brighton. View the full programme here.


Giraffes Can’t Dance 20th Anniversary Dance Party
Sat 18 May

Join illustrator Guy Park-rees, as we celebrate 30 years of the classical picture book Giraffes Can’t Dance. There will be drawing, reading and, of course dancing!

Bad Nana with Sophy Henn
Sat 18 May

Come and met the creator of Bad Nana, author and illustrators Sophy Henn. There will be laughs, live drawing and lots of opportunity to join in.

Nick Sharratt: The Cat and the King
Sat 18 May

Meet the hilarious heroes of Nick Sharratt’s first-ever chapter book, The Cat and the King. Nick will be telling all, and drawing lots of funny picture too!

Ghost Caribou
Sat 18 May

Thingumajig Theatre’s new night-time street act, giant illuminated creatures. As they gather a crowd, they clear a space to perform their otherworldly ceremony. Using music, song and shadow puppets, they tell stories of lost homes, impossible migrations and seeds of hope before continuing the journey into their hauntingly beautiful dreamworld of the night.


Little Green Pig AMPLIFIED
Sat 18 May

Young people from Brighton & Hove take to the stage with unique tales to tell, the performers inhabit public space and amplify their words as never before. AMPLIFIED is part TED Talk, part YouTube confessional, but ultimately a celebration of the human story.

Dream Mande: Bamanan Djourou
Sat 18 May

Our Guest Director, Rokia Traoré joins us again to present emerging Malian musicians with a new take on traditional music. Prepare to hear five musicians and six female singers, led by Rokia, deliver adaptations of traditional Bambara songs, popular Fresh and international tunes as you’ve never heard them before.


Groove Under the Sea
Sun 19 May

Structured around movement and adventure and played by professional jazz musicians, Groove Baby is not your average kiddie jam! Created by Cameron Reynolds as a special hybrid performance for 3 to 7 year-olds and their carers, it incorporates appropriately themed storytelling that engages kids.

Joseph Coelho
Sun 19 May

Join children's author and poet Joseph Coelho as he shares from two of his picture books: Luna Loves Library Day about a young girl's magical experience reading books in her local library with her father; and IF ALL THE WORLD WERE…, a story about a girl’s love for her storytelling grandfather. Joseph will also help you create a whole new poem!


Groove Into Space
Sun 19 May

Designed to give parents an opportunity to get out and see a top concert while entertaining the little ones, Groove Baby avoids dumbing down and instead focuses on making each themed live gig as fun, engaging and exciting as possible for children. 


Cerrie Burnell – The Girl with the Shark’s Teeth
Sun 19 May

Join former CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell as she presents her magical novel The Girl with the Shark’s Teeth. Cerrie will share her top storytelling tips, and inspire children to go on their own creative writing adventures.

Superhoe
Sun 19-Tue 21 May

Following its sold-out run in London, Superhoe comes to Brighton Festival. A one-woman show by Nicôle Lecky in collaboration with Royal Court Theatre and the first black-led theatre company Talawa Theatre Company.


The Storytelling Army – Worthing
Sun 19 May

Join people from all walks of life in an intimate setting overlooking the beach to enjoy a simple meal together and listen to stories surrounding the theme of food and flavours that people have experienced; stories of where they come from; places they have been; or the places they dream to taste.

Find out more about The Storytelling Army and what they do 


Writing Big Themes for Small People
Sun 19 May

Writers who have taken on these themes – Sita Brahmachari, Joseph Coelho and Alan Durant – discuss with author Giles Paley Phillips why they did, the way children have responded and how stories and poems can help them and their grown-ups through difficult times.

Ruby Wax
Sun 19 May

Writer, comedian and mental health activist Ruby Wax takes a look at How To Be Human in an increasingly automated world. In this follow-up to her sell-out shows Sane New World and Frazzled, Wax is joined by a monk, Gelong Thubten and a neuroscientist Ash Ranpura who help us understand the mind and how our brains make us, well, us. 

If you fancy exploring art across the city- don’t forget that Distorted Constellations, Iron Men and Current Affairs are on all festival-long!



Brighton Festival Live Streams: Incredible Events to Watch Wherever You Are

You can’t always make it to all the events you’d like to go to – but with Brighton Festival Live Stream we’ve got you covered.

In partnership with Greater Brighton Metropolitan College and their incredible staff and students, we stream some of our exciting events so you can watch them live from wherever you are, or later in your own time. Click on the ‘Get Notified’ button on the events you want to watch. Here’s a quick rundown…


Backbone
Wed 15 May 7.30pm
Backbone explores the limits of emotional and physical endurance. A stripped-back, raw showcase of human ability and connection. With a powerful live soundtrack and beautiful lighting design.


Flavour Migrations
Fri 17 May 8pm

Get some cooking inspiration from Masterchef winner Shelina Permalloo. She’ll be discussing how her culture, heritage and loved ones have shaped her cooking.


Dream Mandé: Bamanan Djourou
Sat 18 May 8pm

Once again Rokia Traoré will be performing at Brighton Dome’s Concert Hall. Prepare to hear adaptations of traditional Bambara songs, popular French and international tunes as you’ve never heard them before.



Malian Dance Night

Mon 20 May 7.30pm

This is an evening of dance you will not want to miss. Enjoy a special presentation of three new dance pieces by Mali’s next generation of extraordinary choreographers.


Ariwo and Resonators
Wed 22 May 8pm

Take your ears on a musical adventure. You’ll be listening to rural west African heritage with the energy of the vibrant city of Bamako with a mix of other genres such as jazz, electronic and Cuban rhythms.


Chineke!
Thu 23 May 7.30pm

Chineke! bring their extraordinary energy and enthusiasm to this evening’s performance, taking us on a journey through the 1920s from New York to Weill’s Vienna.


Varhung: Heart to Heart

Fri 24 May 8pm

Experience Ancient Taiwanese culture traditions brought up to date by one of the Pacific Island’s premier indigenous dance-theatre companies Tijmur.


BOYS

Sun 26 May 7.30pm

Celebrating male tenderness, silliness, vulnerability and community with a cast of young men of colour from England, BOYS is a joyful and tender dance that hopes to unravel preconceptions and uncover the endless possibilities that can make up a man.


Né So - Rokia Traoré

Malian musician and Brighton Festival Guest Director, Rokia Traoré shares her highly personal sixth album, Né So, an unmissable experience. 


Five Minutes: Stile Antico: Songs of Longing and Exile

Award-winning early music vocal ensemble Stile Antico joins with remarkable Syrian oud performer Rihab Azar for a unique collaboration inspired by the challenges faced by today’s refugees and migrants. We learn more about the creative process and inspiration behind Songs of Longing and Exile

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

The programme focuses on the theme of exile and displacement. We have used 16th century music to create a new work of art by adding texts based on first-hand accounts by contemporary migrants. These will be interspersed with music from Syrian-born Oud player Rihab Azar. The programme will be accompanied by projections and specially designed lighting, to give a unique and immersive experience, culminating in a work written specially for Stile Antico and Rihab Azar by the legendary composer Giles Swayne.

Why should someone come and see your show?

This show will be a unique fusion of old and new music, a conversation between Eastern and Western cultures, exploring one of the most urgent issues of our times.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

We were researching a programme of a capella 16th century music on the theme of exile. John Dowland was famous for his expressive and ‘melancholy’ music, and spent much of his life in exile from his homeland. We opened that programme with the first of his seven Lacrimae pavans, the famous song ‘Flow my tears’. It got us wondering about the possibility of adding texts to the other six pieces in Dowland’s collection and that lead us to the poet Peter Oswald. He created some extraordinary lyrics using first-hand accounts of modern-day migrants. We were keen to intersperse the Dowland works with music from the Middle-East and were thrilled to be able to collaborate with virtuoso Oud player Rihab Azar.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Lovers of music of all types, people interested in issues around migration, anyone with a social conscience!

What sort of person is going to love this show?

I think people will be surprised by the beauty and emotion of Dowland’s music, the way old music and new lyrics can work together whilst also challenging each other, and the virtuosity and expressiveness of Rihab Azar’s Oud playing!

Watch our interview with Gill Kay to learn more about our classical music programme 

Five Minutes with Sheila Hill: Eye to Eye

Writer and theatre-maker Sheila Hill was intrigued to find herself craving music during her pregnancy in 1998. That experience, and the rollercoaster of the first seven years of her son’s life, became the foundation for Eye to Eye: an extraordinary musical collaboration about motherhood.


Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Eye to Eye is an autobiographical chorus-based work about motherhood and childhood – based on two real-time voices, mine and my son’s, spanning seven years from mid-pregnancy, to the start of school, and a little beyond. The text is an edit of my notes and writing from that time, set to music by Howard Skempton with jazz interludes by Byron Wallen.

Why should someone come and see your show?

To see an interesting new performance work. To see the combination of two polar opposite music worlds. To see one of our most dazzling soloists and performers: Melanie Pappenheim. To see a chorus of mothers and children – a lovely thing in itself. To reflect on and connect with a work about the most primal of relationships.


Eye to Eye's chorus of local women and children rehearse at Glyndebourne

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Being pregnant, and finding, weirdly, that I was craving music.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

I hope everyone. High end music, arts and performance audiences. Followers of new work. Music-lovers. Local people. Friends and families of the singers.

What will surprise people about this show?

It’s about all of us. ‘You know, everybody in the world used to be a child, or is a child.’

Eye to Eye takes place Sat 11 May, 7.30pm and Sun 12 May, 2.30pm at Brighton Dome Concert Hall. Book tickets for this very special event here.

Discover more Contemporary Music events happening at Brighton Festival this May.

Who are The Storytelling Army?

Ahead of this year's intimate storytelling events in Queen's Park and Worthing Pavilion Cafe, Stef O’Driscoll from nabokov tells us more about these special events that join people from all walks of life in enjoying a simple meal together and hearing each others stories

Who are you and what is Storytelling Army?
I am Stef O’Driscoll a theatre director and the Artistic Director of nabokov. nabokov is a theatre company that celebrates the infinite array of lives and stories of our nation. nabokov locate and collaborate with a diverse range of exceptional voices across artforms including music, spoken word and theatre reinventing the theatrical experience so anyone can enjoy live performance and tell stories.

We believe that everyone has a story and everyone deserves a platform for theirs to be heard. The Storytelling Army is a community initiative, a collective of people from all walks of life who create and perform their own stories in the hope that by doing so we will cultivate more empathy and understanding for each other. The participants we are working with have come through the Cascade Creative Recovery and AudioActive.

Cascade Creative Recovery is a not-for-profit community centre and café for Brighton & Hove. Run by, and for, people with experience of active recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, the charity provides a supportive peer-led space, informal access to information, and a range of creative courses, workshops and social activities and AudioActive is a ground-breaking music organisation that works with young people at the meeting point of technology and contemporary urban culture. It sees music as a tool for social change, education and personal development.

Check out these organisations they are doing AMAZING things.


Where did the idea for Storytelling Army come from?
The Storytelling Army was created by nabokov in 2017 to fulfil Guest Director Kate Tempest’s vision of a more inclusive Brighton Festival. Myself and Kate bashed out some initial ideas over a cuppa and then nabokov evolved them into the Storytelling Army that stormed the streets of Brighton with pop up performances that took place all over town including at the train station, bus stops, pavilion gardens and on the pier. 

This year we were inspired by the Guest Director Rokia Traoré’s commitment to stripping storytelling back to its bare essentials which sees people gather in an intimate setting—outdoors around a fire in a Brighton park, or indoors in Worthing overlooking the beach—enjoying a simple meal together and hearing each others’ stories.

What work has been going on with Cascade Creative Recovery and AudioActive?
Through a series of workshops we have been working with incredible guest storytellers whether they are singer songwriters, MC’s, rappers, poets or playwrights to support the groups to create and tell their own stories.

Guest Storytellers include Deefa MC, Brodie McBride, Cecilia Knapp, Paul Cree, Sophie Ellerby, Simon Longman, Yomi Sode and Adam Kammerling.

The workshops consist of creative writing, storytelling and performance exercises. Some of the participants have never done anything like this before. Some have written but never performed and some are Brighton and Worthing based artists. It is a real diverse bunch of humans showing up and getting honest and speaking their truth. You are in for a treat.


What can audiences expect to experience at the Storytelling Army performances?
You can expect true stories being performed. You can expect to experience stories through spoken word, rap and songs, and to enjoy a meal that is cooked in front of you whilst all of this is happening. You can expect a community for one night whose foundations are built on sharing. Sharing food and sharing stories. You can expect to either be in an outdoors setting around a fire in Queens Park, Brighton on the 18th May or overlooking the sea at the Worthing Pavilion Cafe Bar on the 19th May.

And in return we expect a supportive kind audience.

Tell us a little about the theme of food and its link with the Storytelling Army event? What makes this event unique?
Chef and storyteller Omar Jowar helped nabokov realise this year’s food-themed event. Our relationship to food tells us so much about our roots and heritage, our health awareness, our politics and our relationships with people.

'When my parents came to Britain they brought very little with them, three children and a better life ambition. My mother carried the stories passed to her in a pink exercise book, with loose, turmeric stained pages, so that they slightly resembled those treasure maps we made at school. Tea stained, like the pages of the empire we read about the history books. In them she brought cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, allspice, turmeric, dried limes, she carried cinnamon in sticks and ground so we as children would never be ground, so we might remember the places we had never been old enough to live. A borrowed heritage. That would help bridge us being somewhere in between Palestinian and British. To then go on and share the story of how green our falafel is. This was our gift to tell this new world where we had been' Omar Jowar

We have partnered with Brighton and Hove Food Partnership and the Kitchen Academy who are incredible organisations who help people learn to cook, grow their own fruit and veg and connect over shared meals, and they tackle critical issues such as food waste and food poverty. The Food Partnership also run the new Community Kitchen, a cookery school on Queens Road. Classes cover everything from patisserie to fermentation, Indian street food to dim sum, including sessions with Jethro from Kitchen Academy who is cooking the events' delicious food. All profits from the Kitchen support cookery activities for vulnerable people in the community.


What's included in the ticket?
An experience of stories from people from all walks of life, a simple tasty meal and beautiful music.

Who should I bring along?
Your friends, partner and family members. Anyone who loves stories. Anyone who loves food. Apart from younger humans below 14+ as the content of the stories can be of an adult nature or may go over their heads.

Do you have to participate or can I sat back and watch others?
You can participate as you wish but I hope when the audience are given the opportunity to connect with someone they don’t know they take it and share a part of them, just as the storytellers have so generously shared with them. What if the worse thing that could happen? On the 18th we are outdoors so please bring a blanket to sit on. 

Tickets are still available for The Storytelling Army at Worthing Pavilion Café Bar on Sun 19 May, 4pm, with the £4 ticket proceeds go to AudioActive and Cascade Creative Recovery. 
Book now via Worthing Theatres Box Office



Co-presented with Worthing Theatres
Supported by Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, and Higgidy

Must-See Events at Brighton Festival’s Opening Weekend

At last, Brighton Festival is just around the corner! With a jam-packed opening weekend – here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening...

Saturday 4 May

Né So

By now you should be aware of our incredible festival guest director Rokia Traoré, but if you are not, here’s a brief rundown: Rokia is a world-famous Malian musician, known for her incredible range and innovation, as well as her ability to transcend borders with her musical ability. This year, Brighton Festival is honoured to welcome Rokia into the creative cockpit to curate and weave her culture and style into every event. Rokia will be opening the Festival with Né So – it is sure to be a transcendent experience, and a chance to get up close with the star of the Festival – and a star in her own right. 


Children’s Parade

As always, the beloved Children’s Parade will be kicking off Brighton Festival with a dazzling display of energy and creativity.

This year, the theme of the parade is Folk Tales from Around the World, led by Same Sky. Taking over the streets of Brighton will be folk tales from Africa, Europe, the Artic, the Americas, Asia and Oceania. Open to everyone, come and join in the fun!


Pitch Perfect

Join Brighton & Hove Music & Arts for an afternoon with the city’s best young musicals talent performing at some of the city’s best locations. Free for all, just follow the trail! 


Current Affairs
Thu 18 Apr-Mon 27 May

Taking over Fabrica’s Regency chapel, the Incredibly beautiful, yet politically charged, Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey’s large-scale Afrogallonism pieces are constructed using discarded 20-25 litre yellow jarry cans. The use of these cans touches on global issues of plastic waste, but also explores his personal and political narratives rooted in histories of colonialism, trader and migration. 


Writers at Risk Gallery
Sat 4 – Sun 26 May

A rare exhibition of just a handful of the 700-900 authors around the world that risk persecution, exile, imprisonment and even murder just by writing their truth.


Iron Men
Sat 4- Sun 26 May

Fotatala King Massassy’s artistic mission is to shine a light on the extraordinary talent and strength of working-class citizens engaged in everyday activities. His photographs are an intriguing mixture of spontaneity and staged composition, each taken with the intention of prompting curiosity from the spectator. This exhibition, titled Iron Men, focuses on Bamako’s iron workers, showcasing the amazing feats they perform daily, without recognition, and giving them a new brand as true ‘magicians of metal’. 


Distorted Constellations
Sat 4 - Sun 19 May

Distorted Constellations is an exhibition that uses sound, projections and holograms to immerse the audience in the imagined landscape of the artist’s brain. The work is inspired by Ebizie’s rare neurological disorder Visual Snow, which causes visual distortions such as flickering dots, auras and glowing lines. The audience will experience a mythical version of how Ebizie sees the world, entering an alternate Afrofuturist (a black perspective on the politics and culture of science fiction and technology) reality, inspired by research into the neuroscience of perception and drawing on rituals of African origin.


Sunday 5 May

Creative Writing Workshop with Miriam Halamy

Do you have a story inside, waiting to spill out? Here to coax the words from the tip of your pen is acclaimed young person’s author Miriam Halahmy. Using two of her popular novels as a guide, she will lead you through a one-hour workshop, encouraging budding writers to consider the world from an alternate perspective, ask themselves some tough questions, and hopefully be inspired to write new stories. 


30 Years of Mr Bongo

30 Years of Mr Bongo celebrates the wonderful history of Mr Bongo with a unique line-up: The Skints, Jungle Brown, Hollie Cook plus UK jazz favourites Moses Boyd Exodus in the main room; and in our foyer, two legendary UK turntablists, Mr Thing & DJ Format, plus Huw Bowles, spinning all night long. . You may want to clear your Monday morning, as your Sunday night with Mr Bongo is bound to keep you dancing late into the night.

Mr Bongo at Brighton Festival
Flight
Sat 4 - Thu 23 May

‘Extraordinary, paradoxical, an epic in miniature.’ – The Observer.

In the unusual form of a miniature diorama, audiences are invited to immerse themselves in a modern tale of two orphaned brothers on an epic journey in search of safety and belonging. With a set of headphones over your ears, and within the secluded comfort of your own personal booth, you are freed from distraction, able to focus totally on the heart-wrenching story thanks to the beguiling creative design from Jamie Harrison, the magic effects and illusions designer from the sold-out stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.    

Read our interview with Artistic Director Candice Edmunds 

Flight by Vox Motus at Brighton Festival
Ensemble Correspondances

For a high brow cultural experience, we implore you to consider the brilliant musical stylings of Sébastien Daucé and Ensemble Correspondances, a group of vocalists and instrumentalists who have put together an astounding score of music to emulate what one might have heard in the court of French King Louis XIII. Without leaving your plush seat in the spectacular venue of Glyndebourne Opera House, you can travel back to the 1600’s, buffeted on the waves of a glorious repertoire provided by a group of highly talented musicians. 

Read our interview with Sébastien Daucé to find out more 


Some Small Isle

Together with poet-musician Roger Robinson and publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove, Zena Edwards and Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff discuss how Black people document their histories and how they respond to injustice as artists – whether beautifully or brutally.


Dream Horse

A true story about a bartender-turned-racehorse-breeder, who abandoned her life in pursuit of a far-fetched dream. Janet Vokes, the star of Dream Horse, the autobiographical story of one woman’s amazing success in the face of adversity, will be in conversation with author Colin Grant to discuss her new book. 


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Five Minutes with: Soumik Datta - King of Ghosts

King of Ghosts is an atmospheric soundscape for two films from early India by sarod star Soumik Datta and City of London Sinfonia.

In the first half of this double bill, Around India with a Movie Camera presents some of the earliest surviving footage from India, then Oscar-winning director Satyajit Ray’s cult and off-beat film Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne will be projected on a large screen. A reimagined live cinematic score (King of Ghosts) accompanies the screening, featuring the haunting sounds of Soumik's sarod, Cormac Byrne’s Irish folk rhythms and City of London Sinfonia.

We spoke to virtuoso sarod player Soumik Datta ahead of the show.

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Vintage Indian cinema, a world class orchestra and a Sarod player to link them all: King of Ghosts is a powerhouse cine-concert bridging the worlds of film and music, India and Britain, past and present. Where else will you find such elements uniting to uplift, challenge and entertain?

In an unprecedented collaboration, Shakespeare’s Globe, BFI, City of London Sinfonia and Soumik Datta Arts unite to showcase an extraordinary multi-arts presentation in two halves. In the first half, Soumik Datta performs his specially commissioned score for sarod, piano and bodhran to the BFI film Around India with a Movie Camera, showcasing some of India’s earliest footage. In the second half, he is joined on stage by City of London Sinfonia to play his reimagined score for Satyajit Ray’s cult classic Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (which marks its 50th year in 2019).

Why should someone come and see your show?

Our cine-concert show immerses the viewer in visuals and sounds from rural and ancient India, factual and fictional characters that will fascinate children and adults alike. Connecting film and music in the most special way, this is a real treat for all music and film lovers.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

My mum is a film maker and singer and in many ways, my first inspiration. She opened my eyes to the links between sound and visuals and the powerful human emotions that lie between. I wanted to pay tribute to that and bring audiences a new kind of show, bridging India and Britain, cinema and live music and instruments from across the world. The elements of this show may seem farfetched, but they are the very ingredients of my identity as a Londoner, a desi boy and as an artist.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

If you like music and cinema, you’re going to love this show! It will transport you through rural India, introduce you to kings and queens, Gandhi, wizards, soldiers and two village heroes bringing you face to face with a mighty, strapping band that will break your perception of what is Western and Indian music.

What will surprise people about this show?

Showcasing some of the earliest ever footage of colonial India accompanied live by energetic live music, this double bill show will move you, make you laugh and question your understanding of what it means to be British today.

King of Ghosts takes place at Brighton Dome Concert Hall on Wed 8 May, 7.30pm.

Five Minutes with Marcus Farnsworth

In the hypnotic performance titled Lines from a Wanderer, internationally acclaimed baritone Marcus Farnsworth and pianist Libby Burgess perform a collection of songs that explore places, journeys and wanderings. Marcus spoke with us about what audiences can expect from the piece.

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

It’s a recital that explores songs about travel, including a new song cycle that was written for me by John Casken.

Why would someone come and see your show?

It’s packed with beautiful music, new and old, and it would be a great introduction for anyone new to the world of song.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The programme is based around the cycle that John Casken wrote for me. All the songs chosen are on the theme of 'wandering' or travel.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone who loves poetry, beautiful music or intimate concerts.

What will surprise people about this show?

How accessible John’s music is. For anyone who is wary of new music, this cycle is really lyrical. Also, the texts he has chosen are stunning – poems by Hardy, Keats and Browning, to mention a few. 

For more information about dates, tickets, and more, see our event page Lines from a Wanderer.

Five Minutes with Moses Boyd: Mr Bongo

30 Years of Mr Bongo is the highly anticipated multi-cultural musical event, three decades in the making. With a range of sounds including Brazilian, Latin, African, Jazz, Soul, Reggae from some of the world's most well-loved DJ's, this is one event that any music-lover won't want to miss. To find out a bit more about what we can expect, we spoke to drummer, composer and producer Moses Boyd.

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what its about? 

My name is Moses Boyd and I’m the leader of the Exodus. Exodus is my journey in sound, sounds I’ve been crafting and perfecting over the years.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because the music will transport you from your current reality into unknown dimensions.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

From my heroes Wayne Shorter, Duke Ellington, Wiley, The Outkast, as well as all the sounds and communities I’ve been around.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Hopefully those that were there during the rave scene years. Also lovers of deep groove and jazz.

What will surprise people about this show?

I have some new young talent in my band, so lots of new energy, a new musical set up and new music. 

Get your tickets for 30 Years of Mr Bongo now to see Moses Boyd and more

Chineke! / Philharmonia Orchestra / Brighton Festival Chorus

Our Classical Music Producer, Gill Kay discusses two shows coming to Brighton this May featuring Chineke!Philharmonia Orchestra and Brighton Festival Chorus.

Five Minutes with Ensemble Variances

Founded in 2009 by Martiniquan-French composer and pianist Thierry Pécou, Ensemble Variances seeks to link contemporary music to the humanitarian and environmental concerns of our time. Outre Mémoire (Outside Memory) is a 70-minute, 12 movement work scored for solo piano, flute, clarinet and cello that commemorates the impact of the transatlantic slave trade. We sat down for a five minute interview with the group to learn more. 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Outre Mémoire takes audiences on an aural travelogue of the transatlantic slave trade of the eighteenth century. Pécou will take the audience on a voyage of rhythms, colours and themes combining Afro-American work songs, the Brazilian Candomble and jazz.

Why should someone come and see your show?

It’s Thierry Pécou’s signature piece and most personal work. During the performance, the musicians encircle the audience offering an immersive experience - which is uncommon for audiences these days!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Inspired by his own Martinique heritage, Thierry Pécou’s compositions reflect the words of Martinique poet and essayist Edouard Glissant, as well as novelist Patrick Chamoiseau. The essays of anthropologist Martin Lienhard were Pécou’s second source of ideas and inspirations. Lienhard studied the point of view of the slaves and the Africans at the time of the slave trade, by looking at historical elements such as the words of the chants in Afro-Brazilian rituals, or court rulings. Pécou invents his own rite, as powerful by its organic violence as by the melodic bitterness which infuses his work.

What will surprise people about this show?

Whilst dealing with the dark chapter of French history - slave trade - the composer avoids pathos or romanticism. Also, audiences will listen to a night in the rain forest with rustling sounds of insects, musically transposed by chimes; the chimes, as it turns out, represent the little bell attached to the captive’s ankle. 

For more information about this haunting performance, visit the Outre Mémoire page. 

Five Minutes with Graham Luckhurst: Mr Bongo

Three decades in the making, featuring Brazilian, Latin, African, Jazz, Soul and Reggae sounds from some of the world's most well-loved DJ's, 30 Years of Mr Bongo is one event that any music-lover won't want to miss. To find out a bit more about what we can expect, we spoke to Graham Luckhurst, director of operations at Mr Bongo

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

The show celebrates 30 years of Mr Bongo – the record label, record shop and a huge passion for eclectic, unexpected music from around the world.

Why should someone come and see your show?

They would be very hard pushed this line up anywhere else in the world, especially at that ticket price ;)

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Myself and David at Mr Bongo were talking to Lucy Monkman (Brighton Festival) and formed the idea, then worked with Danni (Brighton Festival) to develop it. It represents past, present and future aspects of Mr Bongo across hip hop reggae dub jazz DJ’ing and a love of records.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

It has both specialist and broad appeal. The line up as a whole feels like a mini festival, especially given that it is on May Bank Holiday Sunday. Each band will have its own appeal but there is significant crossover between The Skints and Hollie Cook for the reggae/dub/punk-heads, and between Moses Boyd and Jungle Brown for the new UK music and jazz heads. DJ Format and Mr Thing very rarely play on the same bill let alone all night together. So we would be hitting the new younger UK Jazz demographic with Moses Boyd, and both 18-25 and 35+/6Music demographics for The Skints, Jungle Brown, Hollie Cook, Mr Thing and DJ Format. Alongside this, Huw Bowles obviously represents the Mr Bongo hip hop shop legacy.

What will surprise people about this show?

This line up is a real bargain for the ticket price. It’s a mini festival line up for a standard price and it will be a brilliant celebration of music in general.

To snatch your ticket for this bargain event, visit our Mr Bongo page!

Five Minutes with Sébastien Daucé: Ensemble Correspondances

Founded a decade ago in Lyon by the organist and harpsichordist Sébastien Daucé, this ensemble of specialist vocalists and instrumentalists is passionate about rediscovering musical forms and composers now almost forgotten.

Ensemble Correspondances are simply unrivalled in this repertoire and bring their spine-tingling talents to Brighton Festival for the first time, Sébastien had a chat with us to tell us more…

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

This concert recreates life in the salons of Louis XIII’s court with vocal music reflecting themes of night, love and poetry. The first gentleman of France, Louis XIII was a great dancer, musician and even composer; music certainly was one of his main interests – probably before politics!

The French court during his reign reflected his desire for a flourishing artistic life in the salons. He surrounded himself with the greatest artists of the time to compose and play music for his evenings. This programme reveals pieces about love, night and mysteries of passion: typical themes for the poetic airs de cour that we could have heard at the end of the winter at the Louvre court, or in the intimacy of the salons to create small and intimate ceremonies whose intensity and passion remained a blazing fire burning through the night…

Why would someone come and see your show?

This concert is a unique opportunity to dive into the musical life of the 17th century and the close circle of musicians around King Louis XIII. The audience will be able to discover what he liked to hear in the privacy of his Chamber; confidential music by Boësset, Moulinié, Couperin for polyphonic voices, delicate lute and languorous gambas.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The music featured in this programme has hardly been explored or played since its creation and it is absolutely full of musical treasures. When we talk about Louis XIII, we usually think of the Louvre and the court, but a lot of the music of this era is very mysterious to us, and that is what I wanted to explore here.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

This concert will be ravished by curious people who would like to hear music they have never been able to experience before, like some kind of ancient poetry magnified by a small-scale ensemble of musicians.

What will surprise people about this show?

I think that people will come to the show without knowing any of the pieces announced in the programme but this music is so powerful and intense that they will definitely leave the concert humming the airs that they have just discovered!

If you're as intrigued as we are to hear this once-in-a-lifetime performance, discover more about Ensemble Correspondances.

Five Minutes with Saxophonist Jonathan Radford

This May, Saxophonist Jonathan Radford and pianist Ashley Fripp present a heady mixture of eras and musical styles.

Ahead of their show in May, we caught up with Jonathan to find out more...

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Our programme showcases the saxophone and piano in an exciting mixture of eras and styles. We’ll be presenting familiar transcriptions for the combination alongside newer works such as a world premiere by Cheryl Frances Hoad, there’s really something to suit all tastes.

Why would someone come and see your show?

The show will be an opportunity to hear some well-known works such as Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Albeniz’s Suite Española alongside new works and a world premiere!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

We wanted to build a programme that would show many different styles, that would be engaging from start to finish and really relate to audiences.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

There’s really something for everyone in this concert, the repertoire spans from Baroque through to Jazz and modern day with familiar pieces as well as new ones to discover.

What will surprise people about this show?

Audiences are always surprised by the variety of styles and sounds the saxophone can produce. Often only viewed as a jazz instrument the concert really showcases the diversity of the saxophone and its possibilities as a classical instrument.

Discover more Classical Music events happening this May 

From Your Place to Our Place

Back in 2017, Brighton Festival Guest Director Kate Tempest was inspired to initiate Your Place, a project with the aim of taking the Festival out to the communities of Brighton & Hove who might not be able to participate in cultural and artistic events. For Brighton Festival 2019, Your Place will transition to Our Place - a nation-funded initiative that provides free or subsidised tickets for residents to attend Festival events.


Over the last two years, a collaboration has formed between the Festival, Brighton People’s Theatre and a dedicated team of volunteers who formed steering groups across Hangleton and East Brighton. Helped along by community development charities Hangleton & Knoll Project and Due East, the passion and enthusiasm amongst the communities has motivated them to adopt the project and re-brand it as Our Place.

Rhianydd from Hangleton Our Place steering group spoke about how families can get involved:

'The best way I can describe the benefits is to talk about the experiences of two groups I’m involved with. The first is Pebbles, a group for parents and carers of children with severe disabilities. In 2017, we worked with the Festival to put on a show especially for the children – we’ve never had the chance to do that before and it was a massive success.

The other group, Hangleton Fun for Families - a support group for families on low income – were able to take a group of 50 to see the No Fit State circus thanks to the Pay It Forward ticket scheme. Everyone had the time of their lives and I was able to take my son who has severe autism and learning difficulties, he was completely relaxed throughout the show and for those who know him, that’s not often the case! It really energised the group and gave them a taste for doing so much more.'


Over in East Brighton, Chris described how the partnership has inspired Whitehawk residents to get involved:

'In the first year I remember Kate Tempest mentioned how much she was looking forward to coming out to perform in Whitehawk and Hangleton. That had an amazing effect on us, because we so rarely hear the names of our communities in such a positive way. Last year, through the Pay It Forward scheme, a group of us went to see Adam, the story of a young person transitioning in Egypt. It wasn’t the sort of show I would normally go to but it was the most moving thing I have ever seen.'

Nicole Monney, from the community development charity Hangleton & Knoll Project, gives a hint of what we can expect to see at Our Place this May:

'This year the steering groups have been working on even bigger programmes in each area. We’re working with more artists, with schools, community groups, GP practices, health centres, libraries, and so many others. The arts do so much for wellbeing and happiness and are giving a real sense of community in Hangleton and Whitehawk.'

Our Place is a free event and takes place over two weekends during the Festival: 

Saturday 18th May at Manor Gym, Whitehawk 

Saturday 25th May at Hangleton Community Centre

The full programme will be announced soon; in the meantime, look out for these exciting outdoor events as part of the line-up:

My House by Apocalyptic Circus is a circus theatre experience for young children and their families. Look through the doors and windows of this magical, quirky structure and explore the habits and routines of this unusual home. Supported by Without Walls and commissioned by Just So Festival.

Upswing’s Catch Me, a playful and dynamic pop-up style performance and installation, blending dance and acrobatics.

Supported by Without Walls and commissioned by Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

Thanks to Our Place supporters – University of Sussex, The Chalk Cliff Trust and Higgidy. 


Short film reveals Eye to Eye project coming to life

Back in September we put a call out for mothers and their children, women and young people to take part in a new Brighton Festival commission. Created by theatre-maker Sheila Hill, in partnership with Glyndebourne, a chorus of 80 local singers has now been recruited, with more auditions to come in January, to bring the total to 100 voices!

This short film by Hugo Glendinning was made at the launch weekend and gives an insight into Sheila’s inspiration for the piece which explores the two parallel stories of motherhood and childhood. Chorus Master Jo Tomlinson and composer Howard Skempton also discuss how they’ve approached the project musically.


INTERVIEW: Brighton Festival 2019 Guest Director Rokia Traoré

Regarded as one of Africa’s most inventive musicians, Malian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré is known for the variety and range of her practice - from her theatre work with Toni Morrison and Peter Sellars to her musical collaborations with Damon Albarn and the Kronos Quartet. We talked to her about being named eleventh Guest Director for Brighton Festival

When you were first approached to be Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2019 what was it that prompted you to say yes?

I knew Brighton Festival and how well organised it is and the possibility of being part of the team and exchanging ideas about which artists will be performing and why is an interesting experience for me. It is an opportunity to take the time to look at and to think about other artists’ work. These are circumstances you cannot usually create when you are working as an artist - even when you make collaborations, but programming a festival is another experience - you do it from a different angle. I’m excited, curious and enthusiastic about the journey, and I want to see what it will bring.

What can arts festivals, like Brighton Festival, bring to communities?

In Brighton, as with any event like this, the place it happens in is very important and the people occupying this space are very important. What such a festival can bring to its audience is more knowledge about the rest of the world - it’s a way to travel without leaving Brighton and to learn something that you wouldn’t be able to by yourself.

Do you have any aims with Guest Directing this year’s Brighton Festival, and any central themes in mind?

I aim to learn about the way this Festival exists, thanks to the work and the personalities of all the people that make it happen - that’s very important. Being a Guest Director means you are part of a team for a while, so it’s important to know your collaborators and their work and how they see things. I used to programme some things, but there are lots of things to learn from the city and the audience and the Festival itself and it’s going to be very exciting and rich months spent together.

You have described your musical influences as ranging from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, to Wagner, Serge Gainsbourg, and the Rolling Stones. How did you develop such broad interests?

My father was a musician and a teacher before becoming a diplomat and his legacy across various art forms and disciplines has had a huge impact on me. My musical and artistic education began with him - I learnt very much with my father about all kinds of things, but not so many of each thing. He grew up in Africa, he lived there, and he had very good knowledge of music in general – he knew a little bit about a lot of things. So I would discover everything with him, from African music to European classical music. Later, meeting people myself and through my work, I could get more experience and discover more about specific kinds of music. Each project is a source of instruction, you learn more and more about possibilities in specific kinds of music - or in artistic skill - so I continue learning and that’s a pleasure.

As the daughter of a diplomat, you travelled a lot growing up and speak (and sing in) several different languages. How has that cross-cultural background affected you and your music? Where do you see home now?

Home is certainly Mali. It has always been my base. When I finished High School I stopped making music and went to University in Brussels (to study Anthropology, Journalism and Music), but then I realised something was missing and that my musical skill was something that I wanted to take advantage of. This was the first time I had disagreed with my father, who felt Africa needed more intellectuals than musicians. He had given up music to provide me with access to this different kind of life. I realised that the life and career that I wanted was only possible in Mali.

Having been exposed to Europe from a young age I have never seen it as ‘superior’, I have always just seen it as an equal place to Mali. I had enough context to understand the way in which Africa is depicted to the world. The value of life should not need to be tied to money. In Africa people may have less money but there is value in finding joy in the everyday. There is a different philosophy, a different way of seeing life in Africa. I want my children to grow up knowing Africa, it’s important that they can decide on who they want to be, understand what it is to be an African person. I am trying to empower young African people to have the confidence to know that they could make it in Africa without travelling to Europe. I felt what I needed to learn was in Mali not in Europe.

For me - making albums, touring etc. alone is not fulfilling – I want my journey to be a shared experience. I see myself as proof that you can ‘make it’ in Africa and feel that it’s my responsibility to share that with young people. Even when living in Europe I have never stopped travelling to Mali.


In 2009 you set up the Foundation Passerelle in support of emerging artists amidst the social crises in Mali. Can you tell us about the project and why it is important to you?

When I started my career, there was no structure for people who wanted to have a career in music in Mali so I wanted to create a way to support people to get involved in the arts. There is no real market there and no real connection with the international art and culture economy. As an artist, I want to try to understand and also try to find solutions, and I think one of the solutions is to have private projects doing what the government doesn’t see the necessity to do because they have so many emergencies to take care of in Africa. For them, when you talk about culture, it’s not something serious. They are trying to find solutions to providing enough food, to providing good health, to providing education so it’s difficult to get them understanding that culture is important - that without culture, there is an important part of education you miss. So I thought my contribution can be a foundation which will find some funding to finance specific projects in Mali and support some venues, some artists, and some promoters who are trying to do things inside art and culture.

Then later, when we started in 2009, I quickly understood that artistic and cultural projects don’t make sense if there are not public spaces for audiences to come and share something and understand and think together. So we started building: buying pieces of land, and building spaces. Now we have a small theatre where we’ve been programming music and different kinds of events during the last ten months, and we have a dance studio for dance lessons and where we also can present some dance projects. We have apartments we are building to be able to have artists in residence and we are trying to find also ideas to make money and to use this money in the construction and realisation of artistic and cultural projects. This is what the Foundation Passerelle is and what we continue trying to be.

Brighton Festival 2019 runs 4 - 26 May 2019
Full programme details will be announced on Wednesday 13 February 2019.

5 facts about Rokia Traoré

She knows the theatre world well

As well as being a singer, songwriter and guitarist, Rokia has also been involved in many theatre performances, most notably in Desdemona, a collaboration with Nobel-prize winner Toni Morrison and US director Peter Sellars.

She’s performed alongside the likes of Paul McCartney

In 2012, Rokia joined the Africa Express tour in the UK and was joined on stage by Sir Paul McCartney. She also sang in duet with Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz).

She’s an activist and humanitarian

Rokia was appointed Ambassador of Goodwill for the West and Central Africa region by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2015. In Bamako, Mali (where she grew up - she was born in 1974 in the suburbs of the capital) Rokia has set up Fondation Passerelle, a foundation to promote music and the performing arts amidst the social crises in Mali

She’s been a judge at Cannes

Rokia was a member of the jury of the 68th Cannes International Film Festival in 2015.

She has a varied roster of collaborators

Her 2016 album Né So (Home) features the unmistakeable vocals of Devendra Banhart, and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) plays bass and mandolin. This album and 2013’s Beautiful Africa were produced by John Parish (Eels, PJ Harvey, Tracy Chapman.) 

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.

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 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.

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.