Life
Sandra Haurant 8 Nov 2018 05:30pm

Fight for your right to party

It’s official: live music is good for you. Sandra Haurant takes a look at a cornucopia of live concerts and festivals to help you plan a musical adventure in 2019

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Caption: Image: Womadelaide, Grant Hancock

There is nothing like the experience of live music to lift the soul and research has proved that’s it good for your health, too. A study using psychometric and heart-rate tests carried out for O2 by Patrick Fagan, an expert in behavioural science and an associate lecturer at Goldsmith’s University, showed that the gig experience increased participants’ feelings of wellbeing by 21%; feelings of self-worth rose by 25%; closeness to others went up by 25%; and mental stimulation increased by 75%. And since wellbeing is linked to longevity, Fagan says regular gig going might make people live longer.

“Our research showcases the profound impact gigs have on feelings of health, happiness and wellbeing. A prescription of a gig a fortnight could pave the way for almost a decade more of life,” he says. And as Shain Shapiro, founder of the Sound Diplomacy consultancy, said: “Music makes cities, towns and places better. Music makes cities wealthier. Music makes cities more vibrant. Music creates jobs and skills. Music promotes social inclusion. And music is everywhere.” Here we take a look at some of the exciting musical events happening in 2019, so you can plan accordingly.

The festivals

Whether you like bossa nova, the organisers of Womadelaide in Australia reckon they have something for you. A four-day festival of music, arts and dance, it’s held in Adelaide’s Botanic Park annually and is a joint venture with Peter Gabriel’s UK-based Womad. Running from 8 to 11 March, you should enjoy generally pleasant weather and a gig that digital radio station Double J describes as “the most culturally diverse festival in Australia. An ambitious and spectacular experience that challenges your perceptions of what music can be.”

Womad also has festivals next year in Chile (February), New Zealand (March), Spain (May) and the UK ( July). Over in North Africa, the Atlas Electronic festival brings the top names in electronic music to play in the Villa Janna Ecolodge on the edge of the Atlas Mountains, half an hour from Marrakesh in Morocco. Festivalgoers can opt for a “luxury desert camping” experience or stay in a funky medina in the centre of Marrakesh and travel out to enjoy the sounds of the very best in electronica from the world over. Dates for 2019 to be confirmed.

For a taste of Belgian cool, try the Jazz Middelheim festival from 15 to 18 August. Held annually in the vibrant city of Antwerp, last year saw Kamasi Washington and Black Star share the bill with other, largely local, artists. The week before that, Budapest’s Obuda island is taken over by the Sziget festival from 7 to 14 of August. Fifty venues on the island welcome huge acts from a broad style spectrum – last year had Kendrick Lamar, the Arctic Monkeys, Gogol Bordello and Shawn Mendes, to name a few.

If food is every bit as important to you as music, the Big Feastival is the one for you. From 23 to 25 August, Blur bassist turned cheesemaker Alex James opens up his Cotswold farm. Chef Jamie Oliver has been involved in the organisation of the event, and the emphasis is on making the festival experience taste good. Where else would you find Marco Pierre White and Raymond Blanc alongside Paloma Faith and Craig David?

Opera and classical

From 14 to 31 January 2019, London’s Royal Opera House is staging one of Verdi’s best-loved operas, La Traviata. Richard Eyre’s production promises to be a sumptuous affair, with Placido Domingo appearing in certain performances. And in spring, enjoy the vitality and energy of classical music played by “the world’s greatest orchestra of teenagers”.

The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain will be performing throughout the year at venues nationwide, including London’s Southbank Centre on 12 April, the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on 13 April, and the following night at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. And then, of course, there is Glyndebourne: a feature of many a bucket-list and a veritable British institution held at a country house with manicured lawns, glorious gardens, and one of the most JAZZ AND BLUES If jazz is your thing, get to Montreal during June and July. The city’s streets bubble over with energy even more than usual at this time of year, and whole chunks of the city centre become stages for some of the world’s best known musicians.

For the 10 days of the Montreal Jazz Festival, the city lives and breathes jazz, and 2019 sees the festival celebrate its 40th birthday. Meanwhile, the Glasgow Jazz Festival, one of the best events of its kind in the UK, boasts a host of shows citywide during June 2019. In the past it has welcomed the likes of Gladys Knight and George Benson, and in 2018 more than 250 musicians took part in over 50 gigs across five days.

And the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival is on between 12 and 21 July 2019. with the End of the Road Festival), taking place between 19 and 22 July. The organisers describe the festival as “intimate and eccentric, and remaining small by choice”, and aim to offer the “quintessential summer party” with a broad spread of music to match many tastes, and plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained.

Meanwhile, in North Yorkshire, the Deer Shed Festival pulls in (just the right sized) crowds with a mix of musical genres served up in a relaxed atmosphere. celebrated opera houses in the world. This year’s festival includes Rossini’s Barber of Seville, Mozart’s Magic Flute, and much more. If you can’t make it to the festival itself, you need not miss out. The Glyndebourne Tour may well be bringing its magic closer to you. Three Glyndebourne operas will be touring next year: Verdi’s Rigoletto, Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and Handel’s Rinaldo. Check the website at glyndebourne.com for yet to be announced venue details.

Comeback tours and final flings

Plenty of familiar names will be filling venues in 2019, some for the first time in a long while, others for the last time. Artists from as far across the musical spectrum as the Spice Girls (minus Posh) and Metallica have announced tours as well as Fatboy Slim and The Stranglers. And just to prove he’s still standing, Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road gigs celebrate a 50-year career, after which he will retire from touring. His goodbye run will travel from North America across five continents before coming to a close in 2021. Get ready to shell out a lot to see him though: the last time we looked, only the platinum tickets were left.


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