Thursday 23 July 2009

Latitude Festival 2009

John, BS's usual blogger, was unable to attend Latitude Festival, so today's blog is from me, Frances (Marketing Assistant). The orchestra should, by now, have recovered from the intensely exhilarating and very tiring experience of being the first orchestra to perform a classical set at Latitude Festival. The festival itself is an ambitious undertaking - over 700 different artists performing over a variety of stages and arenas throughout Henham Park Estate, to an audience of around 25,000 people.

BS was performing on the Waterfront Stage - an uncovered area - which was beautifully positioned on the edge of the lake, while the audience encrouched on the shades of the woodland nearby. It was one of my favourite spots at the festival. Deck chairs lined the lake shore opposite the stage whilst the festival-goers streamed across the main bridge adjacent to the stage, connecting the festival entrance to the world of activity beyond. Giant flowers floated by, and multi-coloured sheep contributed an occassional bleet to our performance.

The whole Latitude experience is about openness, acceptance, and free abandon to try absolutely anything you can think of. Artists and performers are no longer so bound by genre and audiences seem happy to mingle between styles and artforms. Musical highlights from here in the office, to name but a few (!!) included Icelandic band Hjaltalin, Bat for Lashes, Fever Ray, Nabokov Theatre, The Irrespressibles, Sadler's Wells and of course Nick Cave!

Lizzie Ball made an excellent point in her video diary about audiences at a festival, and in particular the audience we met at Latitude. They're noticeably more relaxed, in no hurry to shoot off, or having to beat people (not literally!) out of the car park. Audiences could wander freely in and out and were readily showing their appreciation for our performance. Increasingly, but certainly not the same as in a festival environment, we see a more open response from audiences in concert halls, they don't feel so bound by the serious environment of our classical music venues.
Sadly, we didn't get to do an encore at our first set, time slipped away from us, but I think generally encores are always expected at gigs. But are they expected at our usual concert hall concerts? Does the nature of the works generally mean playing an extra piece could be overly lengthy, mood breaking from the carefully structured programme, or simply not in the frivolous spirit one envsiages for an encore. Nick Cave, interestingly, did not do one. The audience cheered in delight and wolf whistled approval but only the techies appeared to tacitly signal us out of the arena.

Playing outdoors (acoustics, wind, rain!) certainly makes for a more challenging environment, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well the balance and nuances of the orchestral performance were transmitted. Other highlights were the Loch Fyne food stalls (mussels!), compost loos (!), the random artwork dotted around and generally the cleanliness - people seemed much more considerate than normal festivals/gigs...perhpas due to the £2 cup deposit! I highly recommend Latitude for next year! See more pictures from Latitude

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