EFA newsletter FestFlash 3/2013: Looking back at a summer of festivals

9 October 2013

The October edition of the FestFlash of the European Festivals Association (EFA) invites you once again on a journey through the world of festivals: The Swiss Lucerne Festival launched an ambitious project in Japan; in-depth reviews by Jack Buckley allow insight into the Italian festival landscape; Simon Mundy shares some British festival highlights; Ceyda Berk from Turkey reports back from Finland’s largest annual arts festival; Jurriaan Cooiman from Switzerland describes his experiences in Baghdad, Iraq; and EFA Secretary General Kathrin Deventer attended various festivals and events throughout the summer and shares her impressions of Sofia, Bulgaria; Izmir, Turkey; Dubrovnik, Croatia; and Grahamstown, South Africa.

A music festival connecting Tohoku and the World

With the project Lucerne Festival Ark Nova, the Lucerne Festival, one of the most prominent music festivals in Switzerland, lends it support to Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture, a city that was struck by the unforgettable earthquake and tsunamis on 11 March 2011. Lucerne Festival Ark Nova is the first of its kind in Asia. In preparation of this event a mobile concert hall made of balloon-like material was developed. Through the cooperation of Arata Isozaki, a world renowned Japanese architect, and Anish Kapoor, a British sculptor born in India, this music hall was created. From 27 September until 13 October, world class music and performance and traditional local performance art is brought together as one. Continue reading!

Genius in the service of genius

[Review from the Sagra Musicale Umbra by Jack Buckley] The history of music in 20th century Italy – or more precisely, the history of music performance in Italy (and from there in the entire world) would have been vastly different if Francesco Siciliani (1911-1996) had not had his amazing self-composed musical empire. He shaped many careers through his astute ear and mind, including Callas’s Very nice, signorina, he is reported to have said to the large young woman who came to audition with Isolde’s music, But I’d really like you to come back in a fortnight after you’ve had a look at this, as he handed her a score of Norma. Continue reading!

My imaginary Sofia festival

[By Kathrin Deventer] An arts festival makes sense when it is rooted in society; when it has an impact on people living in a certain place; when it involves the citizens; when it breaks down barriers – then it matters. When I walked through the streets of Sofia I thought about what kind of festival I would create here. Sofia. I first liked the name, then I started liking the city, then I went deeper and looked into its challenges which I would address in my imaginary Sofia Festival… Continue reading!

The sadness of Nairobi

“In world terms the assault on the Westgate Centre in Nairobi is just another example of pointless slaughter by young men who believe that only they are right; another case of cruelty for sake of attention. Even I, the most liberal of humanists, find my tolerance of puritanical Islam wearing very thin indeed.” Simon Mundy pays tribute to the great Ghanaian poet, playwright and diplomat Kofi Awoonor. “He had travelled to Nairobi to read at StoryMoja – Hay Festival Nairobi; one of the world network of literature festivals that take their name from the parent festival held in Wales. Performing at a festival should not cost an artist his life.” Continue reading!

Roots and seeds for a festival

[By Jack Buckley] A festival, by definition, is a celebration. It may be honouring a location, an author, a performer, a tradition or any or all of these things. Some places cry out to be celebrated. Yet for some inexplicable reason they are not. The roots for the celebration are sometimes self-evident. Is it then only a question of an enterprising individual planting the right seeds in the fertile ground? Continue reading!

You are in Helsinki: “Please walk on the grass!”

[By Ceyda Berk] Dream of a festival where the audience is subject and the art is object. Particularly in the wider range of attractive, interactive, innovative and multi-disciplinary arts that are unlikely to be seen elsewhere! In Helsinki, your dream comes true. The Festival of Helsinki, Finland’s largest annual arts festival, which held its 45th edition from 16 August to 1 September, has again proved to be a vivid example of its motto: “to make art accessible for all”. My mind-blowing visit to a sunny and welcoming Helsinki was a unique opportunity to feel the energy of this pocket-size metropolis through the festival. Continue reading!

Extraordinary Presteigne

[By Simon Mundy] It’s hard to overestimate the importance of the Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts (21-27 August) to contemporary classical music in Britain. Yet on the face of it this would seem a strange statement. Presteigne is a tiny town straddling the Wales-England border 250km from London and about 110km north of Cardiff. Continue reading!

Rossini reviewed

The Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Italy is the only international operatic event dedicated exclusively to Gioachino Rossini. In three blog posts, our new blogger Jack Buckley reviewed three productions of the 2013 Rossini Opera Festival: Opportunity Makes the Thief (on L’Occasione fa il Ladro); Would You Want This Tough Italian Girl? (on L’Italiana in Algeri); and Stop Press! The Florez Arnold (on Guillaume Tell).

Edinburgh, a festival city

“My left hand, I discover this morning, still bears the legend ‘Voodoo Rooms’ in indelible pink. It is perfect evidence that my first day at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year went according to plan – in other words, there were no plans at all, only the serendipitous accidents of tagging along. I arrived in the city at lunchtime and was promptly dragged off to a free comedy slot in a typical old town venue – an old tenement block off the Grassmarket now translated into three floors of windowless bars.” Simon Mundy reports back from his trip to the festival city Edinburgh. Read his two blogs entitled “A First Burst of Edinburgh” and “Edinburgh progression”!

Past, present, and future: a mission of a city

[By Kathrin Deventer] Izmir would deserve to be host of the WORLD EXPO 2020: because of its 8500 years of history (definitely for that!), and because of its mission to contribute to the building of new routes to a better world, the theme of its bid. In Izmir, not only different cultures meet, but also past, present and future. This combination of history and contemporary meaning is brought to life through the active engagement and thorough work and proposals of the Izmir Foundation for Culture, Arts and Education. Continue reading!

Krešimir Dolenčić’s vision of “Walls of Stone, Heart of Art”

[By Kathrin Deventer] “Walls of Stone, Heart of Art” was the motto of this year’s 64th Dubrovnik Summer Festival. Yes: the walls are so significant when you enter the ‘fortress’ Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast city dubbed “the pearl of the Adriatic” and dotted with beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings. The Croatian city was among the first sites to be included in the World Heritage List in 1979. Continue reading!

Storytelling in South Africa’s festival city

[By Kathrin and Nadin Deventer] The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown is 39 years old. It showcases South African artists and arts, and international artists coming together for 11 days in Grahamstown, a small city in Eastern Cape in South Africa with a population of 124,758: 44 venues, hundreds of performances from theatre, dance, music, jazz, comedy, and film, as well as a big fringe programme, in the middle of winter time. Continue reading!

Baghdad impressions

“It is incomparable to anything I have done so far: picked from the airport by two police cars, followed by what seemed to be a high speed race until… the police got stuck in the traffic jam too. The security logic seems backwards; just get the car in between the two police cars and you could have killed someone “important”… I was on my way to the first Forum organised by FestArab , the umbrella organisation for festivals in the Arab world. A group of students from the fields of culture, education and tourism were invited to discuss “Cultural events as a tool for dialogue, social integration and economic growth” with professionals from the cultural sector,” Jurriaan Cooiman, describes his first impressions of Baghdad. Read his blog in part 1 and part 2!

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