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.

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 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

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

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. 

Brighton Festival 2016 Listing Highlights

Contemporary music


Laurie Anderson: Music for Dogs

UK Premiere
Tue 10 May, 7.30pm
‘Wouldn’t it be great if you’re playing a concert and you look out and everyone’s a dog?’ Laurie Anderson mused while waiting backstage with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. True to form, Anderson made her outlandish dream come true: first at the Sydney Opera House, and again in New York’s Times Square in January, making headlines the world over. The 20-minute piece has been specifically designed for the canine ear, including higher pitches audible only to them, as well as other sounds for humans to enjoy.

Laurie Anderson, Nik Bärtsch & Eivind Aarset: Song Conversation, Song as a Place.
Brighton Festival Exclusive
Tue 17 May, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Laurie Anderson is joined by fellow musician-composers, Zurich-based pianist Nik Bärtsch and one of Norway’s most in-demand guitarists, Eivind Aarset, for a freewheeling walk through sonic spaces. These master improvisers will take on the idea of space in songs, while dissecting song structure, melody, lyrics, inspiration, dedication, and improvisation. 

Laurie Anderson, Slideshow
World Premiere

Brighton Festival Exclusive
Wed 18 May, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
In the second of two exclusive performances for Brighton Festival, Laurie Anderson presents Slideshow, a specially created performance monologue about place and places, described by Anderson herself as a “collection of adventure stories about love, cities, diners, Mars, how we see, living by rivers, Dollywood, my home town and many other places along the way.”

Yuval Avital & Ensemble Meitar, Fuga Perpetua
Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Fri 20 May, 8pm., Brighton Dome Corn Exchange.
Fuga Perpetua - musical terms meaning ‘always running’ - reflects on the situation of refugees compelled always to move on. In this potent and thought-provoking new work, Yuval Avital, a unique voice in the contemporary and experimental scene, creates an immersive environment using a combination of music, sound recordings, visual projections and movement. With contemporary music group Ensemble Meitar. Produced by Magà Global Arts, Ensemble Meitar &Third Ear. Supported by Arts Council England.

Haçienda Classical: House and club classics
Fri 20 May, 9pm
Brighton Dome Concert Hall
The DJs who shaped the Haçienda sound, Graeme Park and Mike Pickering, will perform a continuous set of house and club classics alongside the Manchester Camerata Orchestra and special guests. Taking the euphoria of the legendary club nights to a whole new level, Haçienda Classical is a unique meeting of styles.

Beth Orton
Brighton Festival Exclusive
Fri 27 & Sat 28 May, 8pm. Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts
Beth Orton returns to the UK for two shows at Brighton Festival premiering highly anticipated new material exploring her electronic roots. Orton has been one of the country’s most unique and beguiling voices in contemporary music for the past two decades - from debut LP Trailer Park in which she pioneered the synthesis of electronic beats and acoustic song writing to her follow-up Central Reservation which brought international acclaim and a BRIT award. These one-off shows will feature new material performed live for the first time.

Floating Points Live
Sun 29 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Dance music trailblazer Sam Shephard – otherwise known as Floating Points – is renowned for his ambitious, forward-thinking DJ sets around the world. His debut album Elaenia draws upon classical, jazz, electronic music, soul and even Brazilian popular music. At times delicate and intense, with moments of utter stillness, it provides the bridge between his rapturous dance music and his classical roots. Performing with a full live band, don’t miss what promises to be a remarkable live performance from one of electronic music’s most perceptive new artists.

Visual Art


Gillian Wearing: A Room With Your Views

Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, World premiere
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May, 10am – 5pm (Thu 10am –8pm), University of Brighton Gallery
Turner Prize-winning British artist Gillian Wearing – the invited artist for HOUSE 2016 - will present Your Views, a global collaborative work which captures a snapshot of 'views' from windows across the world. Wearing’s work examines our public personas and private lives, describing her working method as ‘editing life’. Drawing on fly-on-the-wall documentaries, reality TV and theatrical techniques, she explores how we present ourselves to the world, as well as her involvement with extensive self-portraiture. Co-commissioned with HOUSE 2016.

Ron Haselden: Luminary
Co-produced by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May, 12pm – 7pm, Fabrica
A series of beautiful LED light-drawings at locations across the city by respected British artist Ron Haselden that range in scale from the monumental, presented as a walk-through installation at Fabrica, to the intimate, shining out from homes in several of the city’s neighbourhoods. Stemming from Haselden’s love of drawings produced by the ‘untutored hand’, sketches by young children and older people have provided the inspiration for Luminary, scaled up with LED ropelight, to amplify their spontaneous, uninhibited style. Co-produced by Fabrica and Brighton Festival in partnership with MSL Projects, Hastings.

Lou Reed Drones
UK Premiere
Fri 13 – Tue 17 May, 12pm – 5pm. The Spire
A visceral, emotional and spiritual experience, Lou Reed Drones is an installation of Lou Reed’s guitars and amps in feedback mode: 24 strings set in motion from the push of magnetically driven cones; 360 partial harmonics colliding against each other. Introducing gain and sculpting sonic frequencies, a feedback loop is created with each guitar and its respective amplifier. Their overlapping harmonic structures produce pseudo-acoustic notes in which a beating sensation is then set in motion. 

Film


No Home Movie

(2015, Belgium/France, cert. U), Directed by Chantal Akerman
Sun 8 May, 1.30pm, Duke’s at Komedia
The final film of the great Belgian film-maker Chantal Akerman is a moving memoir of her mother’s last months. Confined to her Brussels apartment, Natalia’s harrowing past as an Auschwitz survivor and her chronic anxiety, greatly influenced Akerman’s art. This special preview screening ahead of the film’s UK release is a tribute to one of the most original and influential figures in feminist cinema, who died last year.

Heart of a Dog
Plus Q&A with Laurie Anderson
(2015, USA), Directed by Laurie Anderson
Tue 10 May, 9pm. Duke of York's Picturehouse
Visually rich and poetic, Laurie Anderson's Oscar nominated Heart of a Dog sees her reflect on love, language and death - inspired by the affection she had for pet Rat Terrier, Lolabelle, who died in 2011. Essayistic in style, and constructed like a collage of original musical compositions, contemporary footage, narration, animation and 8mm home movies, it deftly flits between the serious and the playful, the funny and heartfelt.

Sans Soleil (Sunless)
(1982, France, cert. 15), Directed by Chris Marker
Sun 15 May, 1.30pm., Duke of York's Picturehouse
This elegiac masterpiece by Laurie Anderson's favourite director Chris Marker is a poetic documentary tour of Tokyo, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland and San Francisco. Sans Soleil is a hugely influential essay film in which the spoken word and haunting visuals conjure the disorientation of a world traveller, journeying through cultures, secret rituals and confusions of time.

The Human Face
(1990, UK, cert. 12A), Directed by Nichola Bruce.
Sun 22 May, 4.30pm, Duke’s at Komedia
Nominated for a BAFTA, The Human Face is a documentary made for the BBC series Arena. Laurie Anderson presents, narrating an examination of mankind’s obsession with its own image, looking at the use of heads and the human face in art and sculpture, and at the prejudices applied every day based solely on a person’s appearance.

THEATRE


Blast Theory & Hydrocracker: Operation Black Antler
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 & Sun 8, Tues 10 - Sat 14, Tues 17 - Sat 21, Tues 24 - Sat 28. Every 15 minutes from 6pm - 9pm (timed entry allocated on booking).
For 40 years British police officers have been operating undercover inside protest groups, ‘deep swimming’ by forming relationships and even having children with their targets. This ground-breaking piece of immersive theatre by Blast Theory and Hydrocracker will give audiences a chance to go undercover for the night in a thrilling and unforgettable walk in someone else’s shoes. Visit the safehouse to meet your police handler and build up your identity, choose your cover story and meet the rest of the team then head out to the gig to use your new skills.
Commissioned by Brighton Festival and Ideas Test. In partnership with Dramatic Resources. 

Spymonkey & Tim Crouch: The Complete Deaths
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Wed 11 - Sat 14 May, 7.30pm, Sat 14 & Sun 15 May, 2.30pm. Theatre Royal Brighton
There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare - 75 if you count the black ill-favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus - from the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the death fall of Prince Arthur in King John; from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra. Spymonkey will perform them all – sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, always hysterically. Directed by Tim Crouch, The Complete Deaths is a solemn, sombre and sublimely funny tribute to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Presented by Spymonkey in a co-production with Brighton Festival and Royal & Derngate Northampton. 

Berlin (Antwerp): Zvizdal (Chernobyl – so far so close)
UK Premiere.
Mon 23 – Wed 25 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Co-produced by Brighton Festival.
26 April 1986, Pripyat, Ukraine. A nuclear reactor explodes and some 90 towns and villages are evacuated. But one couple, Pétro and Nadia, refuse to leave. Without running water, electricity, telephone or mail, they hold on indestructibly in the infected zone for 30 years. Berlin returns to Brighton Festival with a filmic portrait of one elderly couple’s self-imposed solitude. Featuring interviews with Pétro and Nadia filmed between 2011 and 2016, Zvizdal tells a poignant story of survival. Co-produced with Brighton Festival; Het Zuidelijk Toneel, Tilburg; PACT Zollverein, Essen; Dublin Theatre Festival; Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels; BIT Teatergarasjen, Bergen; and CENTQUATRE, Paris.

Neil Bartlett: Stella
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Fri 27 & Sat 28 May, 8pm. Theatre Royal Brighton.
A new work written and directed by one of Britain’s most individual theatre makers. Inspired by the strange life and lonely death of Ernest Boulton – also known as one half of the now-infamous Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella – this new work from Neil Bartlett is an intense and deeply personal meditation on what it means to keep your nerve as the lights go out. It's about being old, about being young, and about what it means to really be yourself. A co-commission by LIFT, Brighton Festival and Holland Festival.

Lola Arias (Buenos Aires): Minefield
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Sat 28 May, 8pm. Sun 29 May, 2pm & 7pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Argentinian writer and director Lola Arias returns to Brighton Festival with the world premiere of her new work about the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas, developed with and performed by Argentinian and British veterans of the 1982 conflict. Merging film, re-enactment and documentary theatre, Minefield blurs the lines between truth and fiction to give a fascinating insight into how and what people remember, and how war continues to cast a long shadow over the lives of its protagonists. Co-commissioned by LIFT Festival, Royal Court Theatre, Brighton Festival, Le Quai Angers and Künstlerhaus Mousonturm.

OUTDOOR


Art of Disappearing: The Last Resort
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May (no performances Mon & Tue), Wed – Fri, 2pm – 8pm, Sat & Sun, 11am – 9pm
Amidst a barren landscape, a neon light stands bleak and stark. Welcome to The Last Resort. For those brave enough to return to this long deserted resort, beauty, science fiction and history merge to create a unique outdoor experience. Using binaural technology to create a constantly shifting world of sound, artists Rachel Champion and Tristan Shorr have created an exciting immersive work that takes a wry look at science fiction traditions and dystopian societies.

Marc Rees: Digging for Shakespeare
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 & Sun 8 May, Sat 14 & Sun 15 May, Sat 21 & Sun 22 May, 10.30am & 2.30pm. Roedale Allotments.
Meet James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, 19th century joker and world-renowned Shakespearean scholar who lived on the outskirts of Brighton. There in his 'rustic wigwam' (a series of conjoined sheds), he obsessively curated a huge hoard of Shakespearean rarities. Marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, director Marc Rees has devised a unique promenade performance through Roedale Allotments, close to the site of this eccentric recluse's former home. 


Nutkhut: Dr Blighty
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Tue 24 – Sat 28 May, 2pm – 10pm. Royal Pavilion Gardens.
Between 1914 and 1916, over 2000 Indian soldiers wounded on the Western Front were brought to a temporary hospital housed in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate. In a major new collaboration with Nutkhut and a creative team that includes designer Tom Piper (Tower of London Poppies), Dr Blighty recalls this unexpected episode in Brighton’s history. Bringing the experiences of the soldiers - inspired by letters they sent home - and the locals who came to care for them, the Royal Pavilion Gardens will host a dreamlike environment of immersive installations, soundscapes and theatrical interludes, alongside concerts featuring Philharmonia Orchestra with Kala Ramnath, Debashish Bhattacharya and Gurdain Rayatt within Brighton Dome. A Nutkhut Production co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Brighton Festival and Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove

BOOKS AND DEBATE
Presented in partnership with Guardian Live


Guardian Book Club: Howard Jacobson
Sun 8 May, 5pm. Sallis Benney Theatre
Perhaps the leading observer of Jewishness in modern Britain, Howard Jacobson examines Shakespeare’s most controversial character in his new novel, Shylock is My Name. Including a shocking twist on Shylock’s infamous demand for a pound of flesh, the novel examines contemporary questions of Jewish identity and the relationship between fathers and daughters. Join him for a discussion with Guardian Book Club host John Mullan about the novel and the endlessly fascinating play that inspired it.

Yanis Varoufakis
Tue 10 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
In his new book, And the Weak Suffer What They Must?, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis assesses the history of the European monetary union. A passionate campaigner against austerity, Varoufakis argues that it is a fundamental threat to Europe and to the global economy. He also shows that the origins of the Eurozone crisis lie not with governments or the banks but in its founding structure. He will talk to Channel 4 economics editor and Guardian columnist Paul Mason about the current crisis and present his case for economic reform.

Lionel Shriver
Wed 11 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange.
Orange Prize-winning writer Lionel Shriver talks about her new novel, The Mandibles – a dark, witty and frightening dystopia about a nation in decline. Set during a fiscal crisis in near-future America, the book follows three generations of a family as they cope with the loss of their fortune and learn how to survive as America’s economy spirals into dysfunction.

The Guardian Newsroom: The EU Referendum
Thu 26 May, 7pm. Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts
David Cameron's promised referendum on the UK's membership of the EU could be called as early as June 2016. As both the EU exit and pro-Europe campaigns gather momentum, Britain faces profound questions about its future. Business leaders claim that withdrawal would lead to economic calamity, while others on the left and the right argue the case for Britain to govern itself. Join a panel of Guardian writers, including Brighton Festival Chair Polly Toynbee, to analyse and discuss both sides of the debate.

Marlon James
Thu 26 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Studio Theatre.
Join us for an evening with 2015 Man Booker prize winner, Marlon James. A Brief History of Seven Killings is a fictional account of an attempt to assassinate Bob Marley in 1976, a novel described by the New York Times as a ‘Tarantino remake of The Harder They Come…sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex’. Spanning three decades, the novel uses multiple voices - CIA agents, drug dealers, ghosts, beauty queens - to explore the turbulent world of Jamaican gangs and politics.

DANCE AND CIRCUS


Charles Linehan Company: Double bill
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Sat 7 & Sun 8 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Charles Linehan returns to Brighton Festival with a contrasting double bill of new works. My Mother’s Tears mines the personal history of William Trevitt and Michael Nunn (BalletBoyz) performing classical ballet mime from The Royal Ballet repertoire with unpredictable consequences. In A Quarter Plus Green ideas of transformation are applied to movement, light and sound in a unique new setting at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, Dance4, South East Dance, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance and Tanztendenz, Munich.

The Ricochet Project (New Mexico): Smoke and Mirrors
Mon 9 & Tue 10 May, 8pm.
Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Circus as you’ve never seen it before: audacious and thought-provoking, technically brilliant and profound. The Ricochet Project is pushing the boundaries of contemporary circus using poetic acrobatics, contemporary dance, contortion and high flying feats to explore the human condition. Revealing the inner workings of the mind and our search to find a place of realness and connecting in an enduring culture of illusion, Smoke and Mirrors is a mesmerising and intimate two-hander for grown-ups.

Nederlands Dans Theater 2
Fri 13 - Sat 14 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Nederlands Dans Theater is one of the world's most celebrated dance companies, wowing audiences with their unique brand of breath-taking dance, awe-inspiring skill and passionate creativity. Artistically directed by award-winning choreographer Paul Lightfoot, NDT2 presents 18 international dancers aged 18-23. For their long awaited return to Brighton Festival, they bring a vibrant mixed programme including works by Sol León & Paul Lightfoot, Edward Clug, Hans van Manen and the international hit Cacti by Associate Choreographer Alexander Ekman. Presented in partnership with Dance Consortium.

Akram Khan Company: Until the Lions
Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Thu 26 & Fri 27 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
One of the most respected figures in the dance world, Akram Khan returns to Brighton Festival with his new, full-length production Until the Lions - his most arresting work to date. Khan is joined by two of his company dancers alongside four musicians providing haunting vocals and soundscape. Together they give a breath-taking performance in this partial adaptation of poet Karthika Naïr’s original reworking of the epic Mahabharata, bautifully combining the classical Indian dance form kathak with contemporary dance. Initiated by the 360° Network of round artistic venues across the world and produced during residency at Sadler's Wells London and Curve Leicester. 

CLASSICAL


London Symphony Orchestra
Sat 7 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
A rare opportunity to hear the LSO outside of London, this unique opening concert reflects the Festival’s strong classical tradition over the past 50 years with some of the most remarkably talented performers of today. One of the most brilliant pianists of our time (Leif Ove Andsnes) basks in the lyrical genius of Mozart (Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor K466). Bruckner’s Third Symphony (Symphony No. 3 in D minor) with its grand and majestic orchestration is directed here by the LSO’s Principal Guest Conductor. 

La Nuova Musica: Dido and Aeneas
Sun 8 May, 7.30pm, Theatre Royal Brighton
Ann Murray DBE, one of the great singers of her generation, brings her magisterial artistry to the role of Dido. She is joined by Benjamin Appl, who is fast establishing a major career; and La Nuova Musica, noted for its rigorous yet sparkling approach to the Baroque repertory embellished here by Zack Winokur's evocative dancers. One of the first operas in English, Dido and Aeneas is a tale of love and loss, as Dido, Queen of Carthage, is abandoned by the Trojan prince Aeneas and dies overwhelmed by grief.

Brighton: Symphony of a City
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Wed 11 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Brighton in all its festive, bohemian, campaigning, glory has inspired a remarkable fusion of silent film and live music by filmmaker Lizzie Thynne and composer Ed Hughes. Drawing on such precedents as Walter Ruttmann’s 1927 silent classic Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, this new film depicts a day in the life of the city, darting back and forth through time to encompass archive film of the lost glories and contemporary events that have defined Brighton’s profile as the UK’s most vibrant location. This kaleidoscope of local identity is accompanied by a sumptuous symphonic score performed live by Orchestra of Sound and Light. 

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Brighton Festival Chorus: The Dream of Gerontius
Sun 22 May, 7pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Lush orchestration, massed forces and profound subject matter: The Dream of Gerontius is an overwhelming musical experience. This is the kind of music that Brighton Festival Chorus was created to perform, and which is woven into the identity of the renowned CBSO, whose very first performance in 1920 was conducted by Elgar. A truly stellar cast (Alice Coote: mezzo-soprano, Robert Murray: tenor, Matthew Rose: bass), led by the eminent British conductor Edward Gardner, luxuriates in music of rare power and eloquence that etches the vision of the journey of a pious man’s soul from his deathbed to his judgment before God.

CHILDREN AND FAMILY


Globe Theatre on Tour: The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Wed 25 – Sat 28 May, 6pm, Thu 26, Sat 28 & Sun 29 May, 1.30pm. Brighton Open Air Theatre.
Hidden identities, cross-dressing and subterfuge crisscross in a tale of love, friendship, betrayal and reconciliation. This riotous new production hurls Shakespeare’s anarchic comedy into the 21st century, in the perfect setting of Brighton Open Air Theatre. Remember to bring a picnic and dress for the weather.

A Weekend Without Walls
Sat 14 May, 12 – 5pm. Easthill Park, Portslade, Sun 15 May, 12 – 5pm. East Brighton Park, Whitehawk
Get ready for a weekend of fun and adventures as Easthill Park and East Brighton Park host five extraordinary new performances: Les Enfants Terribles’ Dr Latitude and his team of misguided misfits in The Fantastical Flying Exploratory Laboratory, NOWish's Le Cheval Solitaire, Miss High Leg Kick's Audition Project and H.O.H. by Far From the Norm. Bring a picnic and all the family.

26 LETTERS


Michael Morpurgo
Wed 11 May, 6pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo is spellbinding company, a master storyteller who has created some of the most brilliant children’s books of recent years. Join him as he talks about his work, which includes War Horse, Private Peaceful and Why the Whales Came, and hear all about his latest book, An Eagle in the Snow, the extraordinary story of the man who could have stopped World War Two before it even began.

Chris Riddell Children's Laureate in residence
Winner of two Kate Greenaway medals for illustration, Brighton’s own Chris Riddell (The Edge Chronicles, Goth Girl) joins 26 Letters for no less than three events: Ask the Laureate (Sat 14 May), 6pm. Sallis Benney Theatre, Poems and Pictures Live (Sun 15 May, 2.30pm. Sallis Benney Theatre) and Picture Book Masterclass (Sun 22 May, 10am. Brighton Dome Founders Room.

Young City Reads 2016
Thu 19 May, 1.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Brighton & Hove’s Big Read for young people returns. This year young story-lovers are invited to read and discuss Hamish and the World Stoppers by Danny Wallace. For the Young City Reads Big Event, the award-winning author and presenter, together with the book’s illustrator Jamie Littler, will take centre stage for a live, interactive schools event to talk about their book and tell us more about Hamish, Alice and some disgusting creatures called ‘The Terribles’, who might come from outer space — or maybe France…

Notes to Editors:


About Brighton Festival:

• Brighton Festival is England’s largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May. It is a major milestone in the international cultural calendar and 2016 marks a landmark in its history with the 50th Brighton Festival.

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme.

• For nearly 30 years Brighton Festival has opened with the Children’s Parade, which includes participants from schools and community groups and bands across the city. One of the most spectacular community events in the UK with up to 4,000 participants and an audience of around 10,000, this year the Children’s Parade, devised and delivered by Same Sky, will be themed around Brighton Celebrates in response to Brighton Festival’s milestone year.

• Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere.

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, circus, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round

Brighton Festival 2016 Listing Highlights

Contemporary music


Laurie Anderson: Music for DogsUK Premiere
Tue 10 May, 7.30pm
‘Wouldn’t it be great if you’re playing a concert and you look out and everyone’s a dog?’ Laurie Anderson mused while waiting backstage with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. True to form, Anderson made her outlandish dream come true: first at the Sydney Opera House, and again in New York’s Times Square in January, making headlines the world over. The 20-minute piece has been specifically designed for the canine ear, including higher pitches audible only to them, as well as other sounds for humans to enjoy.

Laurie Anderson, Nik Bärtsch & Eivind Aarset: Song Conversation, Song as a Place.
Brighton Festival Exclusive
Tue 17 May, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Laurie Anderson is joined by fellow musician-composers, Zurich-based pianist Nik Bärtsch and one of Norway’s most in-demand guitarists, Eivind Aarset, for a freewheeling walk through sonic spaces. These master improvisers will take on the idea of space in songs, while dissecting song structure, melody, lyrics, inspiration, dedication, and improvisation. 

Laurie Anderson, Slideshow
World Premiere

Brighton Festival Exclusive
Wed 18 May, 7.30pm, Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
In the second of two exclusive performances for Brighton Festival, Laurie Anderson presents Slideshow, a specially created performance monologue about place and places, described by Anderson herself as a “collection of adventure stories about love, cities, diners, Mars, how we see, living by rivers, Dollywood, my home town and many other places along the way.”

Yuval Avital & Ensemble Meitar, Fuga Perpetua
Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Fri 20 May, 8pm., Brighton Dome Corn Exchange.
Fuga Perpetua - musical terms meaning ‘always running’ - reflects on the situation of refugees compelled always to move on. In this potent and thought-provoking new work, Yuval Avital, a unique voice in the contemporary and experimental scene, creates an immersive environment using a combination of music, sound recordings, visual projections and movement. With contemporary music group Ensemble Meitar. Produced by Magà Global Arts, Ensemble Meitar &Third Ear. Supported by Arts Council England.

Haçienda Classical: House and club classics
Fri 20 May, 9pm
Brighton Dome Concert Hall
The DJs who shaped the Haçienda sound, Graeme Park and Mike Pickering, will perform a continuous set of house and club classics alongside the Manchester Camerata Orchestra and special guests. Taking the euphoria of the legendary club nights to a whole new level, Haçienda Classical is a unique meeting of styles.

Beth Orton
Brighton Festival Exclusive
Fri 27 & Sat 28 May, 8pm. Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts
Beth Orton returns to the UK for two shows at Brighton Festival premiering highly anticipated new material exploring her electronic roots. Orton has been one of the country’s most unique and beguiling voices in contemporary music for the past two decades - from debut LP Trailer Park in which she pioneered the synthesis of electronic beats and acoustic song writing to her follow-up Central Reservation which brought international acclaim and a BRIT award. These one-off shows will feature new material performed live for the first time.

Floating Points Live
Sun 29 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Dance music trailblazer Sam Shephard – otherwise known as Floating Points – is renowned for his ambitious, forward-thinking DJ sets around the world. His debut album Elaenia draws upon classical, jazz, electronic music, soul and even Brazilian popular music. At times delicate and intense, with moments of utter stillness, it provides the bridge between his rapturous dance music and his classical roots. Performing with a full live band, don’t miss what promises to be a remarkable live performance from one of electronic music’s most perceptive new artists.

Visual Art


Gillian Wearing: A Room With Your Views
Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, World premiere
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May, 10am – 5pm (Thu 10am –8pm), University of Brighton Gallery
Turner Prize-winning British artist Gillian Wearing – the invited artist for HOUSE 2016 - will present Your Views, a global collaborative work which captures a snapshot of 'views' from windows across the world. Wearing’s work examines our public personas and private lives, describing her working method as ‘editing life’. Drawing on fly-on-the-wall documentaries, reality TV and theatrical techniques, she explores how we present ourselves to the world, as well as her involvement with extensive self-portraiture. Co-commissioned with HOUSE 2016.

Ron Haselden: Luminary
Co-produced by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May, 12pm – 7pm, Fabrica
A series of beautiful LED light-drawings at locations across the city by respected British artist Ron Haselden that range in scale from the monumental, presented as a walk-through installation at Fabrica, to the intimate, shining out from homes in several of the city’s neighbourhoods. Stemming from Haselden’s love of drawings produced by the ‘untutored hand’, sketches by young children and older people have provided the inspiration for Luminary, scaled up with LED ropelight, to amplify their spontaneous, uninhibited style. Co-produced by Fabrica and Brighton Festival in partnership with MSL Projects, Hastings.

Lou Reed Drones
UK Premiere
Fri 13 – Tue 17 May, 12pm – 5pm. The Spire
A visceral, emotional and spiritual experience, Lou Reed Drones is an installation of Lou Reed’s guitars and amps in feedback mode: 24 strings set in motion from the push of magnetically driven cones; 360 partial harmonics colliding against each other. Introducing gain and sculpting sonic frequencies, a feedback loop is created with each guitar and its respective amplifier. Their overlapping harmonic structures produce pseudo-acoustic notes in which a beating sensation is then set in motion. 

Film


No Home Movie

(2015, Belgium/France, cert. U), Directed by Chantal Akerman
Sun 8 May, 1.30pm, Duke’s at Komedia
The final film of the great Belgian film-maker Chantal Akerman is a moving memoir of her mother’s last months. Confined to her Brussels apartment, Natalia’s harrowing past as an Auschwitz survivor and her chronic anxiety, greatly influenced Akerman’s art. This special preview screening ahead of the film’s UK release is a tribute to one of the most original and influential figures in feminist cinema, who died last year.

Heart of a Dog
Plus Q&A with Laurie Anderson
(2015, USA), Directed by Laurie Anderson
Tue 10 May, 9pm. Duke of York's Picturehouse
Visually rich and poetic, Laurie Anderson's Oscar nominated Heart of a Dog sees her reflect on love, language and death - inspired by the affection she had for pet Rat Terrier, Lolabelle, who died in 2011. Essayistic in style, and constructed like a collage of original musical compositions, contemporary footage, narration, animation and 8mm home movies, it deftly flits between the serious and the playful, the funny and heartfelt.

Sans Soleil (Sunless)
(1982, France, cert. 15), Directed by Chris Marker
Sun 15 May, 1.30pm., Duke of York's Picturehouse
This elegiac masterpiece by Laurie Anderson's favourite director Chris Marker is a poetic documentary tour of Tokyo, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland and San Francisco. Sans Soleil is a hugely influential essay film in which the spoken word and haunting visuals conjure the disorientation of a world traveller, journeying through cultures, secret rituals and confusions of time.

The Human Face
(1990, UK, cert. 12A), Directed by Nichola Bruce.
Sun 22 May, 4.30pm, Duke’s at Komedia
Nominated for a BAFTA, The Human Face is a documentary made for the BBC series Arena. Laurie Anderson presents, narrating an examination of mankind’s obsession with its own image, looking at the use of heads and the human face in art and sculpture, and at the prejudices applied every day based solely on a person’s appearance.

THEATRE


Blast Theory & Hydrocracker: Operation Black Antler
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 & Sun 8, Tues 10 - Sat 14, Tues 17 - Sat 21, Tues 24 - Sat 28. Every 15 minutes from 6pm - 9pm (timed entry allocated on booking).
For 40 years British police officers have been operating undercover inside protest groups, ‘deep swimming’ by forming relationships and even having children with their targets. This ground-breaking piece of immersive theatre by Blast Theory and Hydrocracker will give audiences a chance to go undercover for the night in a thrilling and unforgettable walk in someone else’s shoes. Visit the safehouse to meet your police handler and build up your identity, choose your cover story and meet the rest of the team then head out to the gig to use your new skills.
Commissioned by Brighton Festival and Ideas Test. In partnership with Dramatic Resources. 

Spymonkey & Tim Crouch: The Complete Deaths
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Wed 11 - Sat 14 May, 7.30pm, Sat 14 & Sun 15 May, 2.30pm. Theatre Royal Brighton
There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare - 75 if you count the black ill-favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus - from the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the death fall of Prince Arthur in King John; from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra. Spymonkey will perform them all – sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, always hysterically. Directed by Tim Crouch, The Complete Deaths is a solemn, sombre and sublimely funny tribute to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Presented by Spymonkey in a co-production with Brighton Festival and Royal & Derngate Northampton. 

Berlin (Antwerp): Zvizdal (Chernobyl – so far so close)
UK Premiere.
Mon 23 – Wed 25 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Co-produced by Brighton Festival.
26 April 1986, Pripyat, Ukraine. A nuclear reactor explodes and some 90 towns and villages are evacuated. But one couple, Pétro and Nadia, refuse to leave. Without running water, electricity, telephone or mail, they hold on indestructibly in the infected zone for 30 years. Berlin returns to Brighton Festival with a filmic portrait of one elderly couple’s self-imposed solitude. Featuring interviews with Pétro and Nadia filmed between 2011 and 2016, Zvizdal tells a poignant story of survival. Co-produced with Brighton Festival; Het Zuidelijk Toneel, Tilburg; PACT Zollverein, Essen; Dublin Theatre Festival; Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels; BIT Teatergarasjen, Bergen; and CENTQUATRE, Paris.

Neil Bartlett: Stella
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Fri 27 & Sat 28 May, 8pm. Theatre Royal Brighton.
A new work written and directed by one of Britain’s most individual theatre makers. Inspired by the strange life and lonely death of Ernest Boulton – also known as one half of the now-infamous Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella – this new work from Neil Bartlett is an intense and deeply personal meditation on what it means to keep your nerve as the lights go out. It's about being old, about being young, and about what it means to really be yourself. A co-commission by LIFT, Brighton Festival and Holland Festival.

Lola Arias (Buenos Aires): Minefield
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Sat 28 May, 8pm. Sun 29 May, 2pm & 7pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Argentinian writer and director Lola Arias returns to Brighton Festival with the world premiere of her new work about the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas, developed with and performed by Argentinian and British veterans of the 1982 conflict. Merging film, re-enactment and documentary theatre, Minefield blurs the lines between truth and fiction to give a fascinating insight into how and what people remember, and how war continues to cast a long shadow over the lives of its protagonists. Co-commissioned by LIFT Festival, Royal Court Theatre, Brighton Festival, Le Quai Angers and Künstlerhaus Mousonturm.

OUTDOOR


Art of Disappearing: The Last Resort
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 – Sun 29 May (no performances Mon & Tue), Wed – Fri, 2pm – 8pm, Sat & Sun, 11am – 9pm
Amidst a barren landscape, a neon light stands bleak and stark. Welcome to The Last Resort. For those brave enough to return to this long deserted resort, beauty, science fiction and history merge to create a unique outdoor experience. Using binaural technology to create a constantly shifting world of sound, artists Rachel Champion and Tristan Shorr have created an exciting immersive work that takes a wry look at science fiction traditions and dystopian societies.

Marc Rees: Digging for Shakespeare
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival
Sat 7 & Sun 8 May, Sat 14 & Sun 15 May, Sat 21 & Sun 22 May, 10.30am & 2.30pm. Roedale Allotments.
Meet James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, 19th century joker and world-renowned Shakespearean scholar who lived on the outskirts of Brighton. There in his 'rustic wigwam' (a series of conjoined sheds), he obsessively curated a huge hoard of Shakespearean rarities. Marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, director Marc Rees has devised a unique promenade performance through Roedale Allotments, close to the site of this eccentric recluse's former home. 


Nutkhut: Dr Blighty
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Tue 24 – Sat 28 May, 2pm – 10pm. Royal Pavilion Gardens.
Between 1914 and 1916, over 2000 Indian soldiers wounded on the Western Front were brought to a temporary hospital housed in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate. In a major new collaboration with Nutkhut and a creative team that includes designer Tom Piper (Tower of London Poppies), Dr Blighty recalls this unexpected episode in Brighton’s history. Bringing the experiences of the soldiers - inspired by letters they sent home - and the locals who came to care for them, the Royal Pavilion Gardens will host a dreamlike environment of immersive installations, soundscapes and theatrical interludes, alongside concerts featuring Philharmonia Orchestra with Kala Ramnath, Debashish Bhattacharya and Gurdain Rayatt within Brighton Dome. A Nutkhut Production co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Brighton Festival and Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove

BOOKS AND DEBATE
Presented in partnership with Guardian Live


Guardian Book Club: Howard Jacobson
Sun 8 May, 5pm. Sallis Benney Theatre
Perhaps the leading observer of Jewishness in modern Britain, Howard Jacobson examines Shakespeare’s most controversial character in his new novel, Shylock is My Name. Including a shocking twist on Shylock’s infamous demand for a pound of flesh, the novel examines contemporary questions of Jewish identity and the relationship between fathers and daughters. Join him for a discussion with Guardian Book Club host John Mullan about the novel and the endlessly fascinating play that inspired it.

Yanis Varoufakis
Tue 10 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
In his new book, And the Weak Suffer What They Must?, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis assesses the history of the European monetary union. A passionate campaigner against austerity, Varoufakis argues that it is a fundamental threat to Europe and to the global economy. He also shows that the origins of the Eurozone crisis lie not with governments or the banks but in its founding structure. He will talk to Channel 4 economics editor and Guardian columnist Paul Mason about the current crisis and present his case for economic reform.

Lionel Shriver
Wed 11 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange.
Orange Prize-winning writer Lionel Shriver talks about her new novel, The Mandibles – a dark, witty and frightening dystopia about a nation in decline. Set during a fiscal crisis in near-future America, the book follows three generations of a family as they cope with the loss of their fortune and learn how to survive as America’s economy spirals into dysfunction.

The Guardian Newsroom: The EU Referendum
Thu 26 May, 7pm. Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts
David Cameron's promised referendum on the UK's membership of the EU could be called as early as June 2016. As both the EU exit and pro-Europe campaigns gather momentum, Britain faces profound questions about its future. Business leaders claim that withdrawal would lead to economic calamity, while others on the left and the right argue the case for Britain to govern itself. Join a panel of Guardian writers, including Brighton Festival Chair Polly Toynbee, to analyse and discuss both sides of the debate.

Marlon James
Thu 26 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Studio Theatre.
Join us for an evening with 2015 Man Booker prize winner, Marlon James. A Brief History of Seven Killings is a fictional account of an attempt to assassinate Bob Marley in 1976, a novel described by the New York Times as a ‘Tarantino remake of The Harder They Come…sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex’. Spanning three decades, the novel uses multiple voices - CIA agents, drug dealers, ghosts, beauty queens - to explore the turbulent world of Jamaican gangs and politics.

DANCE AND CIRCUS


Charles Linehan Company: Double bill
World Premiere. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Sat 7 & Sun 8 May, 8pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Charles Linehan returns to Brighton Festival with a contrasting double bill of new works. My Mother’s Tears mines the personal history of William Trevitt and Michael Nunn (BalletBoyz) performing classical ballet mime from The Royal Ballet repertoire with unpredictable consequences. In A Quarter Plus Green ideas of transformation are applied to movement, light and sound in a unique new setting at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, Dance4, South East Dance, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance and Tanztendenz, Munich.

The Ricochet Project (New Mexico): Smoke and Mirrors
Mon 9 & Tue 10 May, 8pm.
Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Circus as you’ve never seen it before: audacious and thought-provoking, technically brilliant and profound. The Ricochet Project is pushing the boundaries of contemporary circus using poetic acrobatics, contemporary dance, contortion and high flying feats to explore the human condition. Revealing the inner workings of the mind and our search to find a place of realness and connecting in an enduring culture of illusion, Smoke and Mirrors is a mesmerising and intimate two-hander for grown-ups.

Nederlands Dans Theater 2
Fri 13 - Sat 14 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Nederlands Dans Theater is one of the world's most celebrated dance companies, wowing audiences with their unique brand of breath-taking dance, awe-inspiring skill and passionate creativity. Artistically directed by award-winning choreographer Paul Lightfoot, NDT2 presents 18 international dancers aged 18-23. For their long awaited return to Brighton Festival, they bring a vibrant mixed programme including works by Sol León & Paul Lightfoot, Edward Clug, Hans van Manen and the international hit Cacti by Associate Choreographer Alexander Ekman. Presented in partnership with Dance Consortium.

Akram Khan Company: Until the Lions
Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival
Thu 26 & Fri 27 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
One of the most respected figures in the dance world, Akram Khan returns to Brighton Festival with his new, full-length production Until the Lions - his most arresting work to date. Khan is joined by two of his company dancers alongside four musicians providing haunting vocals and soundscape. Together they give a breath-taking performance in this partial adaptation of poet Karthika Naïr’s original reworking of the epic Mahabharata, bautifully combining the classical Indian dance form kathak with contemporary dance. Initiated by the 360° Network of round artistic venues across the world and produced during residency at Sadler's Wells London and Curve Leicester. 

CLASSICAL


London Symphony Orchestra
Sat 7 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
A rare opportunity to hear the LSO outside of London, this unique opening concert reflects the Festival’s strong classical tradition over the past 50 years with some of the most remarkably talented performers of today. One of the most brilliant pianists of our time (Leif Ove Andsnes) basks in the lyrical genius of Mozart (Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor K466). Bruckner’s Third Symphony (Symphony No. 3 in D minor) with its grand and majestic orchestration is directed here by the LSO’s Principal Guest Conductor. 

La Nuova Musica: Dido and Aeneas
Sun 8 May, 7.30pm, Theatre Royal Brighton
Ann Murray DBE, one of the great singers of her generation, brings her magisterial artistry to the role of Dido. She is joined by Benjamin Appl, who is fast establishing a major career; and La Nuova Musica, noted for its rigorous yet sparkling approach to the Baroque repertory embellished here by Zack Winokur's evocative dancers. One of the first operas in English, Dido and Aeneas is a tale of love and loss, as Dido, Queen of Carthage, is abandoned by the Trojan prince Aeneas and dies overwhelmed by grief.

Brighton: Symphony of a City
World Premiere. Commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Wed 11 May, 7.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Brighton in all its festive, bohemian, campaigning, glory has inspired a remarkable fusion of silent film and live music by filmmaker Lizzie Thynne and composer Ed Hughes. Drawing on such precedents as Walter Ruttmann’s 1927 silent classic Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, this new film depicts a day in the life of the city, darting back and forth through time to encompass archive film of the lost glories and contemporary events that have defined Brighton’s profile as the UK’s most vibrant location. This kaleidoscope of local identity is accompanied by a sumptuous symphonic score performed live by Orchestra of Sound and Light. 

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Brighton Festival Chorus: The Dream of Gerontius
Sun 22 May, 7pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Lush orchestration, massed forces and profound subject matter: The Dream of Gerontius is an overwhelming musical experience. This is the kind of music that Brighton Festival Chorus was created to perform, and which is woven into the identity of the renowned CBSO, whose very first performance in 1920 was conducted by Elgar. A truly stellar cast (Alice Coote: mezzo-soprano, Robert Murray: tenor, Matthew Rose: bass), led by the eminent British conductor Edward Gardner, luxuriates in music of rare power and eloquence that etches the vision of the journey of a pious man’s soul from his deathbed to his judgment before God.

CHILDREN AND FAMILY


Globe Theatre on Tour: The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Wed 25 – Sat 28 May, 6pm, Thu 26, Sat 28 & Sun 29 May, 1.30pm. Brighton Open Air Theatre.
Hidden identities, cross-dressing and subterfuge crisscross in a tale of love, friendship, betrayal and reconciliation. This riotous new production hurls Shakespeare’s anarchic comedy into the 21st century, in the perfect setting of Brighton Open Air Theatre. Remember to bring a picnic and dress for the weather.

A Weekend Without Walls
Sat 14 May, 12 – 5pm. Easthill Park, Portslade, Sun 15 May, 12 – 5pm. East Brighton Park, Whitehawk
Get ready for a weekend of fun and adventures as Easthill Park and East Brighton Park host five extraordinary new performances: Les Enfants Terribles’ Dr Latitude and his team of misguided misfits in The Fantastical Flying Exploratory Laboratory, NOWish's Le Cheval Solitaire, Miss High Leg Kick's Audition Project and H.O.H. by Far From the Norm. Bring a picnic and all the family.

26 LETTERS


Michael Morpurgo
Wed 11 May, 6pm. Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo is spellbinding company, a master storyteller who has created some of the most brilliant children’s books of recent years. Join him as he talks about his work, which includes War Horse, Private Peaceful and Why the Whales Came, and hear all about his latest book, An Eagle in the Snow, the extraordinary story of the man who could have stopped World War Two before it even began.

Chris Riddell Children's Laureate in residence
Winner of two Kate Greenaway medals for illustration, Brighton’s own Chris Riddell (The Edge Chronicles, Goth Girl) joins 26 Letters for no less than three events: Ask the Laureate (Sat 14 May), 6pm. Sallis Benney Theatre, Poems and Pictures Live (Sun 15 May, 2.30pm. Sallis Benney Theatre) and Picture Book Masterclass (Sun 22 May, 10am. Brighton Dome Founders Room.

Young City Reads 2016
Thu 19 May, 1.30pm. Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Brighton & Hove’s Big Read for young people returns. This year young story-lovers are invited to read and discuss Hamish and the World Stoppers by Danny Wallace. For the Young City Reads Big Event, the award-winning author and presenter, together with the book’s illustrator Jamie Littler, will take centre stage for a live, interactive schools event to talk about their book and tell us more about Hamish, Alice and some disgusting creatures called ‘The Terribles’, who might come from outer space — or maybe France…

Notes to Editors:


About Brighton Festival:

• Brighton Festival is England’s largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May. It is a major milestone in the international cultural calendar and 2016 marks a landmark in its history with the 50th Brighton Festival.

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme.

• For nearly 30 years Brighton Festival has opened with the Children’s Parade, which includes participants from schools and community groups and bands across the city. One of the most spectacular community events in the UK with up to 4,000 participants and an audience of around 10,000, this year the Children’s Parade, devised and delivered by Same Sky, will be themed around Brighton Celebrates in response to Brighton Festival’s milestone year.

• Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere.

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, circus, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round

Brighton Festival 2015 soars to a close

Brighton Festival 2015 - with award-wining author Ali Smith at the helm as Guest Director - came to a soaring conclusion this weekend.

Over the three-week Festival - the biggest and most established in England - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions were explored in a thrilling selection of events which spanned music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate featuring artists and performers the world over from Ukrainian ‘ethnic chaos’ band DakhaBrakha to the newly Palme d’Or honoured filmmaker Agnès Varda.

Three central themes - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - provided a fascinating jumping off point to explore some of the key ideas and issues of the moment as well as a memorable visual image of a swift in flight which proved a fitting and popular emblem for the 2015 Festival.

The opening weekend asked audiences to ‘take flight’ for the annual children’s parade, the largest of its kind in Europe. Supported by regional businesses Class of their Own, Gatwick Airport and Riverford, the annual parade traditionally marks the start of Brighton Festival and was attended by almost 5,000 children from 83 schools and community groups from across the region; each dressed in costumes they had specifically designed and made for the event. Taking inspiration from Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director Ali Smith’s deep fascination with birds and other migratory patterns, costumes included bird life in all its forms as well as flying machines, creatures from fantasy and fable, bugs, bees and butterflies.


The Children's Parade. Photo by Jordan Hughes

During the ensuing 23 days it wasn’t just the kids who took flight – with more reviews praising the artistic excellence of this year’s programme than ever. One of the Festival’s biggest hits was the European premiere of Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York which was lavished with 5 stars across the board. Glowing reviews in The Guardian, The Stage and the artsdesk amongst others described them as “exemplary”, “extraordinary”, “profound” and “faultlessly directed”. This was swiftly followed by the top accolade going to violinist Isabelle Faust’s amazing feat of solo virtuosity, Paine’s Plough’s poignant exploration of love and relationships in Lungs and Nina Conti’s extraordinary tour de force of improvised comedy amongst others.


Fleeting on Brighton Beach. Photo by Chris Bethall

At just under 400 performances across 150 events, including 34 that were entirely free to the public, Brighton Festival 2015 featured the highest number of exclusives, premieres and commissions to date including a sizeable proportion of events that cannot - and could not - be experienced anywhere else outside of Brighton Festival, from Sam Lee’s intimate Nightingale Walks on the Downs to Laurie Anderson’s one-off concert All the Animals and Festival finale Fleeting, the spectacular installation over the West Pier by And Now in which hundreds of individual points of fire created shapes and swathes of glowing light and shade.

In a continuation of the Festival’s dedication to making the arts accessible for all, 2015 saw a plethora of shows - including high profile events such as physical theatre show The Spalding Suite which takes as its subject the UK's basketball sub-culture and Jess Thom’s inspiring and uplifting exploration of her experience of living with Tourette’s, Backstage in Biscuit Land - live-streamed to audiences around the world, for free. Brighton Festival also reached out beyond the centre more than ever before, working with Without Walls to present a number of family-friendly performances in Saltdean and Woodingdean for the first time as well as the enthralling 451 at Preston Barracks and playful Ear Trumpet in Queen’s Park. This was complemented by a fantastic response to community driven events such as a new children’s birdwatching trail which was generously embraced by the business community, and the return of the Guest Director’s Guests, the Peacock Poetry Prize and the Young City Reads schemes.


Backstage in Biscuit Land. Photo by Victor Frankowski

Other Festival highlights included a one off live screening of Peter Strickland’s daring masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy; the English premiere of Vanishing Point & National Theatre of Scotland’s The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler, a homage to one of Scotland's most likeable, most individual and most unexpected 20th century figures; a new lecture specially commissioned for Brighton Festival by acclaimed author Jeanette Winterson OBE on the practices and craft of writing; and the UK premiere of The Forgotten / L’Oublié(e), the directorial debut of Raphaëlle Boitel, one of the most remarkable performers on the European visual and physical theatre scene.

Brighton Festival 2015 featured 396 performances across 150 events including 45 exclusives, premieres and commissions and 34 free events.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “From the 5 stars across-the-board success of Richard Nelson’s extraordinary Apple Family Plays to the headline-grabbing performance of Kate Tempest and a very special personal appearance by newly Palme D’Or honoured Agnes Varda - this year really has been a Festival to remember. Ali Smith, as Guest Director, has been an absolute pleasure to work with and a wonderful inspiration to us all. Her remarkable sense of possibility, wonder, imagination and excitement at anything that she encounters has been evident every step of the way, from her invaluable input during the programming process to her lively and engaging presence throughout the month. The Festival’s continued ability to not only bring such an eclectic range of artists onto one bill but to make it a resounding success, is testament to the extraordinary support we have from funders, sponsors and from audiences themselves. It’s an exciting time for Brighton Festival as we look towards our 50th birthday next year. I cannot wait to lift the lid on what surprises we have in store for the city and beyond.”

In Photos: Brighton Festival Week Three

Wow - what a month we have had! We've enjoyed every second of Brighton Festival 2015 and we hope you had a blast too. This past week, we've had outdoor spectaculars, dreamlike circus, ventriloquism, incredible music and much more. Explore the happenings of week three by clicking the photos below...

The fun continues with a host of eclectic and exciting events...

Posted by Brighton Festival on Friday, 22 May 2015

In Photos: Brighton Festival Week One

Our 49th Festival with Ali Smith at the helm has been a joy so far. We've had heaps of fun and with a plethora of great theatre, circus, dance, music, classical, outdoor, family, books and debates and visual art and film events still  to come the fun is nowhere near over yet!

Take a look back over our first week of Brighton Festival 2015 right here...

The past week has flown by and lots of exciting events have happened so far at Brighton Festival 2015 and there's still so much more to come! Check out what’s up next at: https://brightonfestival.org/whats_on/

Posted by Brighton Festival on Friday, 8 May 2015

Exploring a Beautiful Cosmos - who was Ivor Cutler?

The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler, coming to Brighton Festival this May, tells Cutler’s fascinating life story, interwoven with his songs, stories and poetry, but you’re out of luck if you are looking for a traditional tribute musical. Director Matthew Lenton tells The Observer it is, “an anti-Mamma Mia”, and it is only fitting that a play based on the life of a maverick defies convention. Mark Fisher from the Guardian calls it “a big grin of a show, as funny and idiosyncratic as Cutler and every bit as embraceable.” while The Telegraph describes it as “Funny, evocative and celebratory”.

Ivor Cutler was a poet, performer and certified eccentric. Born in Glasgow in the 1920s, he began writing songs and poems in the 1950s while teaching by day (a profession he took up after being dismissed from the RAF for ‘dreaminess’). Cutler began appearing on BBC Radio and after an appearance on Late Night Line-up in the 1960s, he was noticed by Paul McCartney. Cutler was subsequently championed by John Peel and released numerous albums to critical acclaim, but he remained ambivalent about his popularity and famous following, and was renowned for telling fans attempting to take his picture, “don’t you ever do that again”. He continued to ride his bike, hand out sticky labels covered with cryptic messages, and tell stories through song accompanied by his harmonium, such as I believe in bugs, Egg Meat and Mary is a cow, until his death in 2006. Cutler lived life by his own rules, his whimsical outlook and refusal to conform continues to capture the imagination and is set to enchant audiences of The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler. Read on to discover more about this wonderful man.


Ivor performing Beautiful Cosmos in 2004

As a young man, Cutler joined the RAF as a trainee navigator, but was promptly dismissed for being 'too dreamy and absent-minded' after being caught sketching clouds in mid-air.

He had an unorthodox approach to teaching and rebelled against the use of corporal punishment in his school. He cut the leather belt he had been given to discipline children with into 50 pieces, and handed them out to his students when he quit. He subsequently joined a progressive independent school ‘with no rules’ where he would challenge his pupils to improvise songs.

Cutler appeared in the Beatles psychedelic 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour as Buster Bloodvessel - the conductor of their multicoloured bus, accompanying them on their magical adventure. He was subsequently invited to teach the Beatles children but declined on socialist principles, saying, "What made their kids more special than other kids?"

He often communicated by handing out stickers with cryptic messages on them, both to people he knew and people he didn't: he would randomly distribute stickers bearing messages like, Funny smell, Let me out and To remove this label take it off.

Enjoy this short video of Ivor Cutler performing I’m Happy in 1986

His famous fans include: The Beatles, John Peel, Billy Connolly, philosopher Bertrand Russell and Johnny Rotten

He was in a relationship with English poet Phyllis King for over 40 years and the pair often collaborated. Despite their close relationship, they lived in separate houses to maintain their independence and Cutler lived in the same small second-floor flat surrounded by his collection of masks, paintings and sculptures until his death.

From the 1990s he was largely retired, but continued to ride around Central London on his bicycle, wearing pink flamingo shorts and a selection of curious hats and loud ties, accosting complete strangers in the street and asking them if they wrote poetry.

Book your spot now to see The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler.


Eclectic beats and kaleidoscopic visuals: Get ready for a journey through sound and space with Squarepusher

Legendary electronic producer Squarepusher joins us at Brighton Festival with new album, Damogen Furies. With a career spanning 20 years, and 14 albums under his belt, he remains at the forefront of the electronic scene - constantly pushing the boundaries with his unique sound and approach to performance. Damogen Furies was created using instruments, hardware and software of his own invention, enabling him to record each track live and in one take, and capture the energy and freedom of his live show. 

His unique approach has been met with glowing critical acclaim: with the NME praising his “dark, musical imagination” which keeps him way ahead of the game, and Louder than War giving the album 9/10, “his unique and pioneering electronic sound meets his boundary-warping drum n’ bass. In short, it’s a stonking good listen”.

His live show promises a sonic explosion, bringing together his diverse influences of acid-house, jazz and electronica, with mesmerising visuals in a high-octane show to bombard the senses. For Squarepusher, the visual elements of his show are as important as the sound, he has “hijacked the world of imagery” to forge a deeper sonic connection with his audience. This recent live session, gives you a taste of what’s to come at his live show in May: a burst of limit-pushing, bass-thumping energy which promises to take you on a “2001-esque trip to the edge of the universe...Goodbye Earth!”


Want to go on a journey with this symphonic sorcerer? Tickets are available for his hotly anticipated Brighton Festival show at Brighton Dome on the 8th May.

Read the full review by NME 
Read the full review by Louder than War

5 minutes with... GoGo Penguin’s Chris Illingworth

Returning to Brighton Festival this year, GoGo Penguin’s groove-heavy, lyrical acoustic-electronica sound and exhilarating live shows have made them the band to see on the UK’s contemporary jazz circuit. We caught up with GoGo Penguin’s Chris Illingworth to find out a little more about him…

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

Alfred Brendel

The first gig I went to was…

DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist

The first album I ever bought was…

Mezzanine by Massive Attack

The proudest moment of my musical career was when…

We signed to Blue Note Records earlier this year

My favourite part of touring is…

When we get the occasional day to explore the city we're gigging in

The best show I ever performed was…

So far, Uber Jazz in Hamburg last year

My favourite song to perform live is…

One Percent

The last song I listened to was…

Cream Puff War by Grateful Dead

People would be surprised to learn that…

I like to draw and paint portraits in my free time


Video: Squarepusher - Most Valid Reason

Producer, bass virtuoso, composer and sound artist, Squarepusher aka Tom Jenkinson has constantly strived to push the boundaries and limits of music, drawing on influences as broad as drum and bass, acid house, jazz and electroacoustic music - with pretty incredible results. Watch him now in this new video performing Most Valid Reason via VICE Japan or - even better - experience Squarepusher live in action on Fri 8 May at Brighton Dome.

Back with eagerly anticipated new material, Squarepusher brings his all-new live show to Brighton Festival 2015. Jenkinson Told BBC 6Music,

‘It’ll be very fast, very experimental, it’ll be an evening of extremity… the music I’m writing is born to be heard at a very high volume on stage, accompanied by a visually slamming presentation.'


And we can't wait...