Glastonbury meets Glyndebourne
PUBLISHED: 14:40 08 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:22 20 February 2013
A festival that rewrites the rules of classical music will set Somerset ablaze this summer. Interview: Sarah Ford.
Set in the sweeping parklands of Glastonbury Abbey, Orchestra in aField promises an exciting and varied musical programme. The event is the inspiration of Somerset-based Charles Hazlewood, a world-renowned conductor and the BBCs face of classical music.
Charles is known for being passionate about bringing world-class orchestral music to new audiences and he is eager to see local people get behind the event that will take classical music out of the concert halls.
The main performances will include Mussorgskys magical Pictures at anExhibition on 30 June and Bizets hotblooded Carmen on 1 July featuring a childrens chorus of pupils from schools in Charlton Mackrell and Keinton Mandeville.
A distinctive feature of the Mussorgsky piece will be the improvised replies to the orchestra supplied by Charles Hazlewoods All Star Collective, a musical supergroup featuring Will Gregory from Goldfrapp, and Adrian Utley from Portishead.
Charles, who lives in countryside south of Glastonbury and spent the first eight years of his life in Yeovil where his father was a vicar, says that as a fully paid-up and very proud member of the West Country community he felt he should be bringing his music home.
The other fundamental point is that Somerset is so under-served in terms of professional orchestral activity. I do not know why that should be. Dont get me wrong, there are a million and one fantastic music initiatives little and big festivals (like Glastonbury) but in terms of provision of high octane professional orchestral work Somerset sees very little year on year. So I feel very strongly about meeting a need.
My belief is that it is everyones birthright to have access to good orchestral music and any other music; its not a luxury. Hence Orchestra in a Field.
And at the same time what makes it exciting is the experience that you would not get anywhere else. We are taking this beautiful rarefied thing called a symphony orchestra out of the confines of a concert hall and letting it loose in a field. We are amplifying it stunningly and beautifully, in an environment where people can quite simply be how they want to be.
What better way of introducing your kids to classical music? he adds. They can run about and be themselves they dont have to behave in a certain way. Its all about hanging out in a beautiful place, soaking in the sound and the spectacle.
People associate big orchestras with stuffy concert halls, and a lot of people are alienated by that image of classical music. But take the music out of that setting, and its a revelation. Weve got the production values of Glyndebourne and the chilled out atmosphere of Glastonbury.
As well as food from a host of quality local producers, such as Castle Cary-based catering company Levant, who will be cooking up a storm with paellas, tapas and antipasti, there will be a childrens area and workshops where you can learn everything from bell ringing toclog dancing.
Each day of the festival will also featurea range of exciting one-off musicalexperiences, like the performance ofTchaikovskys 1812 Overture by theScrapheap Orchestra. The orchestra ismade out of recycled material and was thesubject of a BBC4 documentary.
Orchestra in a Field will also host thefirst large scale performance by the newlyformed British Paraochestra, the firstorchestra for world class musicianswith disabilities.
My youngest child was born withcerebral palsy so suddenly the scales havefallen from my eyes, explains Charles, afather of four.I looked at the Paralympics and,thinking what an incredible model that is,I found myself wondering why there areno significant platforms for brilliantmusicians with a disability. So I am on amission to change that.
Michael Eavis, who has offered campingat Worthy Farm (home of theGlastonbury Festival) over the weekend of30 June1 July, is full of praise forOrchestra in a Field. What Charles isdoing here is great; its good for the Abbeyand the whole area, particularly in a yearwhen there is no Festival or Extravaganza.Its going to be different and change is agood thing.
For details on concert and camping ticketsvisit orchestrainafield.com. Tickets are alsoavailable from Glastonbury Abbey Gift Shopor from Bath Box Office: 01225 463362