Summer Festivals | UK LISTINGS

'Moments of Weightlessness'

Sarah Nicolls exposes a piano’s belly in ‘Moments of Weightlessness’

1. Brighton Festival

‘Wouldn’t it be great if you’re playing a concert and you look out and everyone’s a dog’. So, allegedly, said the American experimental composer and performance artist Laurie Anderson while waiting backstage with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Now her dream has come true. This festival sees the UK premiere of Anderson’s Music for Dogs, a 20-minute piece specifically designed for the canine ear. Humans, meanwhile, can enjoy Moments of Weightlessness, in which pianist, inventor and performer Sarah Nicolls creates a metaphor for motherhood by exposing the belly of the piano and teasing out its hidden sounds. Other highlights include Lou Reed Drones, an installation of guitars and amps, and Floating Points Live, bridging the gap between dance music and the classical tradition.

May 7–29


Phantom Chips

Phantom Chips is one of the featured artists at Tectonics Glasgow

2. Tectonics Glasgow

Musical disciplines from Scotland collide with those across the globe in this annual festival, relocated from Reykjavik to Glasgow. It begins with an installation by Annea Lockwood, tracing the route of the Housatonic River. Elsewhere there are new works from artists including electronic musician Phantom Chips, improvisation specialist Neil Davidson, and Jessika Kenney, who has long been preoccupied with Javanese culture. Performances take place in the City Halls and the Old Fruitmarket.

May 7–8

'Depart' at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. Photo: John Angerson

‘Depart’ unfolds at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

3. Spitalfields Summer Festival

This London festival has always exploited unconventional venues, and this year it goes further than ever. Barts Pathology Museum is the setting for a performance from Langham Research Centre, a group of former BBC Radio 3 producers who employ obsolete technology to make electronic music. The V&A Museum of Childhood welcomes in the Multi-Story Orchestra for a concert of new music. There are also premieres of young composers taking place in hidden venues around Spitalfields. Perhaps the most striking setting, however, is a Victorian graveyard in Tower Hamlets, which hosts circus artists, choral singers, designers and musicians in Depart, a promenade performance exploring the space between life and death. Other genre-defying events include a reimagining of King Arthur from Club Inégales, and a performance from the blind artist collective White Cane, who explore the public space around Bishops Square through music and dance.

June 2–26

'Illuminations' at Aldeburgh Festival

‘Illuminations’ is a highlight at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival

4. Aldeburgh Festival

First up is Illuminations, a new work for soprano, string orchestra and circus performers, inspired by the surrealism of poems by Rimbaud set in Britten’s song cycle Les Illuminations. A few days later pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the festival’s artistic director, gives an outdoor performance of Messiaen’s bird-inspired Catalogue d’Oiseaux, in the RSPB Minsmere nature reserve. Elsewhere, sound artist Mira Calix teams up with early music collective Solomon’s Knot to present a new work inspired by Bomzaro’s 16th-century Italian sculpture garden. There’s also a new piece by Benedict Mason, a composer known for writing complex music with particular spaces in mind.

June 10–26

Theatre of Voices in David Lang's new piece

Theatre of Voices perform in David Lang’s ‘Memorial Ground’

5. East Neuk Festival

A former potato barn is the venue for the world premiere of Memorial Ground, David Lang’s new choral and orchestral work memorialising the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. Another highlight of this annual festival, taking place in venues along Scotland’s eastern coastal line, is Once Upon a Time, featuring music by John Cage and a collage of mini-scenes inspired by cartoon strips. Then there’s Out of the Box, a series of jazz and traditional musics from Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East, always featuring a classical link. As usual the programme is interlaced with art, poetry and talks in keeping with the concert’s themes.

June 22–July 3

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