Alasdair Nicolson shares his vision for the Festival

In a fascinating interview for Bath on TV, Alasdair Nicolson shares his vision for the Bath International Music Festival:

“My ideal for a festival is that it feels like a holiday atmosphere, that audiences are interested enough to go to more than one event and to be adventurous to try new things. It’s one reason I chose to give themes to this year as it provides a link between some events for an audience.

As a composer, and therefore someone who thoroughly believes in keeping the art going, I think that Festivals are perfect launch-pads for new work be it commissioned music, new productions or first-time artistic collaboration so that the programme isn’t just off the performing circuit shelf and hopefully is entertaining, challenging and satisfying. Of course funding is a challenge in this climate. To initiate new pieces of music, new productions and new collaborations that are created fresh for a Festival are costly and it’s always difficult to explain to people both why art matters and indeed how much it costs.

I’m also really keen to have performers around for more than a “quick gig” into Bath and out in the day. The idea that audiences get the chance to see artists in different contexts and, indeed, might see them in the audience for others events or in a coffee shop is my ideal world.

Most importantly I’m keen to involve as many amateur performers young and old within the festival be it performing alongside professionals or creating their own events. This is a more long term goal and takes a lot of setting up so will most likely appear within my programming in the future rather than the hints that are around this year.

I didn’t aim to alter the programme radically. There is an eclectic mix of many kinds of music ranging from classical to jazz to folk/traditional to opera to cabaret. I suppose, to a great extent, the festival is a reflection of some bit of my personality, musical experience and interests. I was brought up in the Hebrides with traditional folk music, I then went on to study classical music, I’ve worked in opera, I’ve worked with jazz musicians, I’ve worked in the theatre and with dance and spent a lot of my time making music happen with younger, amateur and emerging professional musicians. There’s a lot in the programme which revolves around the voice ranging from world class singers in jazz and opera to hundreds of children singing in a huge choir about Monsters, there’s new work specially created for the festival and there’s also a strong thread of opera and music theatre.

Many people ask me how the festival sits next to Bath’s classical festivals like Bath Mozart Festival. For me though the boundaries are a little more blurred nowadays with classical music and other genres of music and I’m loath to even use that term or to curtail an audience member’s sense of investigation or exploration within the International Music Festival. The Festival sits with a long tradition of 65 years with directors whose interests have ranged outside their own classical realm – Menuhin and Ravi Shankar being an obvious one – and I hope that the Music Festival holds its own and is true to that history in the future.”

Watch the video of the interview here.

More news