Orchestral manouevres in the park: The Philharmonia Orchestra presents Orchestival 2014

A new festival created by classical conductor Charles Hazlewood will take over the Royal Bath And West Showground for a weekend this July with the aim of ‘setting music free’. On Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th July 2014, Orchestival will present Squarepusher, The Unthanks, Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory, Kneehigh theatre and harpist Ruth Wall beside the Philharmonia Orchestra and British Paraorchestra.

Building on the success of 2012’s Orchestra In A Field, the new event aims to present music to appeal to all tastes, while deliberately blurring the lines between popular and classical. A stunning lakeside site nestled in the rolling Somerset hills will feature a main stage plus talk tent and music cafe.

“I want to take people on a musical journey and open them up to new experiences … all the energy of a rock festival but with an Orchestra at it’s heart,” enthuses Hazlewood. “It’s for everyone, it’s for now!”

We take a closer look at what’s on offer at this adventurous event.

Pic by Sept.

Squarepusher’s Orchestral Ufabulum
Beatmaster and drum-and-bass pioneer Tom Jenkinson will recreate his entirely programmed 2012 album Ufabulum in concert with the Philharmonia. The event website is anxious to deflect any suggestion of ‘saccharined fusion’ (nobody mention Hooked On Classics!) but anyone who’s experienced Squarepusher live will expect an intense, engulfing performance not to be missed.

Kneehigh Theatre presents Noye’s Fludde
Director Simon Harvey, Cornish theatre company Kneehigh, members of both orchestras and local music and theatre groups including choir, bell ringers and recorders will invite the crowd to join Benjamin Britten’s community opera retelling the story of Noah and the great flood. The hundreds of animals will be portrayed by local schoolchildren playing music and singing in costumes they’ve made themselves. Expect to be overwhelmed.

The Unthanks
Hauntingly beautiful North Eastern balladeers Rachel and Becky Unthank have already demonstrated their ability to blend gritty regional storytelling with uncanny sibling harmonies and influences like Miles Davis or Steve Reich. This work with the Philharmonia, the latest of many creative collaborations, promises to push musical boundaries while stirring echoes of the distant past.

The British Paraorchestra
The world’s first orchestra entirely made up of virtuoso musicians with disability debuted at Orchestra In A Field, with subsequent performances including a Coldplay collaboration for the Paralympics. This premier of material from new album ‘Other’ will explore the alternative perspective created by a disability through fresh new interpretations of familiar songs featuring a parade of guest performers.

The Will Gregory Moog Ensemble
Best known as half of Goldfrapp, Will Gregory is a self-confessed music nerd obsessed with 70s analogue Moog synths and Farfisa organs. His geek ensemble will create a shapeshifting sound bath of synthesised orchestral music featuring everything from Bach to ’80s computer sounds.

Ruth Wall by Steve Bowbrick

Ruth Wall
The dextrous soloist will create a captivating journey through harp music from the delicate Gaelic lyre to electronic sounds, and medieval folk to Phillip Glass.

The Philharmonia
The orchestra will also present music from video games featuring soprano Sabina Zweiacker, acid house anthems re-imagined by cellist Matthew Barley and a Saturday night finale with ‘very special guests’. The programme also features pieces by Mozart, Wagner, Dvorak, Haydn and Richard Strauss.

With plenty of announcements still to follow, weekend tickets are already available at £75 for adults, £45 for locals, and free to under 13s. Day tickets are priced up to £30. The festival will support Flag, the Somerset Levels flood relief fund.

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