Festivals breaking boundaries

Festival season is here – a time to get outside and share a communal experience of art, culture and entertainment…maybe with some good food and drink thrown in. The August edition of IAM takes a look at a five festivals doing things a bit differently, and here are two coming up very soon that you don’t want to miss:

22 – 24 July
Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, UK

Music goes well with so many things: drink, food and dance to name a few. But how about music and science? Bluedot, a new festival of science and music set in the grounds of the Jodrell Bank observatory, certainly thinks they are a match. The new annual festival, which runs at the end of the month, promises visitors ‘a weekend of music, science, arts and culture under the stars.’

In some ways music and science are polar opposites: one driven by facts, the other by feelings. But both share a common goal: to reach for something beyond ourselves.


Moreover, take a look at the line up and you’ll soon see what a big impact science and technology has had on contemporary musicians. Would Jean Michel Jarre’s music even exist without the rapid advances in digital technology? Where would Brian Eno be without science and synthesisers? What would British Sea Power’s lyrics even be about?

The music programme, which includes folktronica star Beth Orton and electronic-indie-rock band Everything Everything, takes care of the sonic angle, but it is the science side that makes this festival unique. As well as booking musicians inspired by scientific concepts Bluedot also includes a series of talks and lectures from top science speakers. TV science super star Brian Cox appears alongside Robin Ince, as part of a live edition of BBC Radio 4’s Infinite Monkey Cage.

Elsewhere professor Danielle George speaks about the ALMA array of telescopes in the Attacama desert; professor Mark McCaughrean answers questions like ‘what is the universe made of?’; and professor Matthew Cobb explores the future of genetic technology and its impact on human life.

Méra World Music Festival
29 – 31 July
Kalotaszeg, Romania

This brand-new festival, which takes place in Méra, a village in the picturesque and diverse region of Kalotaszeg, Romania, showcases a wide variety of genres and eras of world music. The festival focusses mainly on the neighbouring Romanian, Hungarian and Gypsy cultures, and kicked off with a warm-up concert by Budapest’s Góbé orchestra in the nearby village of Gyerőmonostor on 15 July.

Méra World Music Festival
Méra World Music Festival

The main festival takes place in late July and features a wide range of world music (klezmer, jazz and reggae to name but a few) in its afternoon concerts, while dedicating its evenings to accomplished performers from across Central Europe, including Tárkány Müvek, a Hungarian folk group mixing traditional folk songs with modern avant-garde jazz, and Nadara, a Gypsy folk band that shot to fame after composing the soundtrack to acclaimed French drama, Transylvania.

Also on the bill are some world-music heavyweights: Ágnes Herczku, Nikola Parov Quartet, Tcha Limberger, Esszencia, and Buda Folk Band. As well as established acts, the festival boasts the first-ever meeting of folk musicians from across Kalotaszeg, with a night of improvised music and dance.

Finally, the festival hosts musicians from Hungarian TV talent show Fölszállott a Páva, in an exciting concert that showcases some of the most exciting new performers from across the Carpathian mountains.