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Brighton Festival is back for 2014
Brighton Festival is back with close to 450 performances across the first three weeks of May.
The 147 events at 34 venues will include 37 premieres, exclusives and co-commissions along with 26 free events.
Taking over the reins from last year's Argus Angel winning guest director Michael Rosen is the acclaimed choreographer, dancer, musician, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter.
- Click here for our special Brighton Festival and Fringe section, which will be updated throughout May with all the latest festival and fringe news, preview, reviews, blogs, pictures and videos.
- Click here for a profile of guest director Hofesh Shechter
- Click here to see this year's brochure cover
Speaking ahead of this morning's launch, Festival chief executive Andrew Comben paid tribute to him.
He said: “Hofesh's instinctive understanding of Brighton and our Festival means it is particularly pertinent that he steps into the role in 2014 following a highly successful five years of working together.
“Hofesh's creative vision and energy contains that rare quality and sense of adventure that sparks the imaginations of a much wider audience beyond his own discipline and encourages us all to try something new.”
Kicking off this year's Festival, as is tradition, is the Children's Parade on the first Saturday (May 3).
More than 5,000 youngsters from 83 schools will snake around the city to the sound of drums, whistles and the high pitch shrieks of proud parents.
Expert a plethora of colourful and imaginative costumes to match this year's theme of The Arts.
Following the family event will be a new addition to this year's Festival with SoundCity's Pitch Perfect.
Various young musical performers of all genres will be stationed in and around the Royal Pavilion Estate to entertain the masses. So expect folk-duos in the Dome's Cafe-Bar, rock in New Street and jazz in the gardens - all free of course.
The first Saturday evening also sees a standout performance with one of the most influential figures in Russian Theatre debuting his show in the UK.
Dmitry Krymov's Opus No.7, which will take over the Corn Exchange from May 3 to 8, is described as a bewitching blend of genre-blending performance which explores everything from the plight of the Jews in Eastern Europe to the tortured life and career of the Soviet-era composer Dmitri Shostakovich.
Fresh from his experience leading the Children's Parade, this year's guest director Hofesh Shechter will have little time to relax before he brings his smash-hit Sun to the Dome's Concert Hall also on the Saturday night.
It will be followed on the Sunday with a fascinating talk on the making of the piece.
The Sunday (May 4) will also see the author of Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh, in conversation with John Niven.
The Scotsman will talk about his latest book and his raw, uncompromising style at The Old Market show.
Later on in the first week there will be a very special performance in a rather unusual location to celebrate the composer Harrison Birtwistle's 80th birthday.
Opera Down by the Greenwood Side, which was first commissioned by the Festival in 1969, will be revived once more.
Originally performed on the West Pier, it will this time take over the Harvey's Brewery Depot in Lewes.
The second weekend will see Hofesh Shechter back on stage this time for an in conversation event with choreographer William Forsythe.
One of the most accessible and interactive events of the three weeks will also begin on the second Saturday.
The Invisible Flock group will invite residents to the Onca Gallery, in St Georges Place, for a study on happiness.
For ten days the venue will feature a 3D map of the city in which you can plot your own happy memories.
They want to hear about - and more importantly find out where - you had your first kiss, heard you got your job, fell in love or just spent a memorable summer's day.
The results, which will be announced at an event at The Old Market between May 23 and 25, will not only show what makes us happy - but also where.
The second weekend will also be a treat for music lovers with the likes of Mobo-award nominated Zara McFarlane performing at The Old Market (May 11) and Harrison Birtwistle's Orpheus Britannicus in the Royal Pavilion's Music Room (May 11).
The second week will kick off with the best of new theatre from across the country with the three-day biennial showcase Caravan.
Northern Stage's acclaimed production of Catch-22 will roll into town at the Theatre Royal on May 13 before Hofesh Shechter is back with In Good Company 2014 on the Wednesday night (May 14).
The Old Market event will see talented members of his troupe try their hand at choreography.
The following day will see perhaps one of the more fascinating events of this year's programme, Wild Justice.
The Hydrocracker group will lead the Unitarian Church audience in a quest to develop a 21st century revenge play.
Exploring the question of where does justice begin and forgiveness end, the group will be joined by the likes of Jo Berry, whose father was a victim of The Brighton bombing at The Grand.
Rounding off the second week in style will be a Festival exclusive in the shape of a classical musical interpretation of the Tempest in the Dome's Concert Hall (May 16).
The penultimate weekend packs a punch with events across the city. Among the highlights are Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller discussing his favourite photographs (May 16), storytelling in the Stanmer Park with Walking Stories (May 17 and 18) and philosopher AC Grayling discussing his book The God Argument (May 18).
This year's big debate will also fall on the Saturday (May 17) with broadcaster Simon Fanshawe chairing the likely lively discussion on immigration.
The start of the final week is set to be a treat for contemporary music fans with Cat Power (May 18) in the Dome Concert Hall and Peaches performing Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar accompanied by just a piano at the Theatre Royal (May 19).
The music continues with both classical, KelzMahler at the Dome Concert Hall (May 19), and world, Toumani Diabate and Sidika Diabate at the Theatre Royal (May 20), both covered.
The final Wednesday (May 21) will see one of the more challenging performances with the Vanishing Point group tackling old age, dementia and death, head on.
The world premiere piece, which has been co-produced by the Festival, explores what it is to grow old and be cared for in what is sure to be Festival highlight.
The following day will see a return to more familiar territory with the Globe Theatre group's Much Ado About Nothing in St Nicholas Rest Gardens.
Starting the same day and running through until Saturday is one of the most thrilling circuses around.
The Pirates of the Carabina's acrobats, aerialists, daredevils, stuntmen and musicians, will have audiences wide-eyed and on the edge of their seats throughout their Theatre Royal stint.
Running throughout the Festival will be the usual House Commissions which include the much-hyped Rosanna Martin and Ester Svensson at the Regency Town House.
Yinka Shonibare MBE, the lead artist for 2014 House, will take over the Old Reference Library in Brighton Museum with his installation exploring immigration, displacement, cultural identity and more.
Wrapping up this year's Festival will be a crime festival entitled Dark and Stormy.
The festival within a festival will infiltrate the last few days with a series of fascinating shows.
There will be talks from the likes of Brighton-based crime novelist Peter James (May 23) and About A Boy author - and soon to be crime writer - Tony Parsons (May 24) as well as special screenings of the likes of Down Terrace (May 24) and Daniel Craig's pre-Bond Layer Cake (May 23).
But perhaps most curious will be a panel discussion featuring among others former Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox and past Director General of MI5 Dame Stella Rimington.
The Dome Concert Hall event, titled Spies: Fact and Fiction, will see the experts discuss how accurate the secret agents from literature are to those in real life.
As is tradition, the Festival will conclude with a major classical music piece, this year from the Philharmonia Orchestra.
The Concert Hall performance (May 24) will journey through a range of 20th century masterpieces including pieces by Ravel and Stravinsky.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Mr Shechter praised the city for inspiring him as an artist.
He said: “Brighton has a magic to it that no one can explain.
“Finding a place where one can develop and grow artistically is a delicate thing, an important thing.
“It's been a privilege to have been part of the planning for this inspiring event and I feel a rush of excitement about sharing our programme with audiences in Brighton and beyond.”
- Don't miss The Argus on Monday for your copy of the Festival programme.
Booking opens for Festival members tomorrow morning from 9am. Everyone else has to wait another week to get their hands on tickets.
You can call 01273 709709, book online at brightonfestival.org or in person at the ticket office in New Road, Brighton.