What is a music festival?

At so many music festivals these days creativity seems to be losing out to conformity. A festival should be where you are surprised, challenged, delighted and outraged, not where you feel comfortable. Without serendipity a music festival is no more than a branded concert series, which is exactly what so many of today's high profile festivals such as the BBC Proms have become. Festival programmes should be mazes with many paths to follow, dead ends to encounter and delights to discover. Just like the Norfolk & Norwich Festival programme, which yesterday included the serendipitous delights of Zic Zazou from France.

Zic Zazou are part music, part theatre, part comedy and part engineering with nine musicians making music from a huge collection of 'found' instruments ranging from bottles of red wine to chair legs. It is all enormous fun, but it is also musique savant that follows the path of Lou Harrison and Harry Partch. But don't take my word, watch the video:

From Zic Zazou's 5.00pm performance I wandered across Norwich city centre to the 8.00pm concert at the Theatre Royal. Where I am afraid John Cale backed by syrupy string and brass arrangements left me cold. Rock stars, like Lot's wife, should never look back. But surprise, challenge, delight and outrage is what a great festival is all about. More on Lou Harrison's concerto for violin, violin, 12 brakedrums, 6 flowerpots, plumbers pipe, damped plumbers pipe .... here.

Tickets for Zic Zazou and John Cale were bought at the Festival box office. If you are in Norwich there are two more performances by Zic Zazou today, May 15 - don't miss them. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk


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