A day long festival of music to celebrate the longest day of the Year based on France’s ‘Fete de la Musique’. We celebrated with music from all four corners of the world including Bangra, Cuban, Brazilian and traditional English roots music.
The event encompassed soloists, string quartets, music processions and intriguing musical surprises rounded off with a free evening concert in Canada Square Park featuring a new commission, The Compass Suite, written and performed by four composers: James Morton, Kathryn Tickell (currently working with Sting), and Kishon Khan; all coordinated by Alex Wilson and supported by the wonderful and extraordinary British Carnival sound of Kinetika Bloco.
Based on the French inspired ‘Fete de la Musique’, which has been in existence since 1982 in cities and towns throughout France, we transformed Canary Wharf into a musical city by harnessing the talents of both professional, amateur, schools and community musicians and performers in a spectacular festival of music and allied arts.
Summer Solstice (21 June) signifies with Midsummer’s Day (24 June) the longest day of the year and the middle of Summer. It is the day when the North Pole is nearest to the Sun.
Originally Solstice was a Celtic Fire festival representing the shortening of the days on their gradual march to winter. The importance of the day to our ancestors can be traced back many thousands of years and many stone circles and other ancient monuments are aligned to the sunrise on Midsummer's Day. Probably the most famous alignment is that at Stonehenge, where the sun rises over the heel stone, framed by the giant trilithons on Midsummer morning.
The event itself saw musicians appear at different times of the day and on different sites around Canary Wharf, playing to both passers by and to a more static audience.
Kicking off the early morning slot was our very own Tristan Mackay whoperformed to thousands of passers by in Reuters Square as they made their way to One Canada Square. Elsewhere the likes of Ngoma an African drum ensemble brought an energy that had the crowds gathering to see their colourful display of dance and African rhythms. Cabot Square one of the major focal points for the day was treated to performances by the spectacular performers the Cosmic Sausages who brought a smile to hundreds of faces as they interacted with the public with their individual comedic style of performance.
Dilanga put on a fine display with a nine piece ensemble and crowds were also treated to a very special performance by the South African dance group Mophato whom were especially in the country for a project commissioned by Peter Conway Management called "Goalmouth" at the Sage, Gateshead. There was also a stunning perfomance by RSVP featuring James Morton in Jubilee Park where Bangra was fused with some funky Jazz.
The central location for the proceedings, and where the Compass Suite was later to take place was Canada Square Park where a magnificent stage was erected for perfomances from noon onwards. Hannah and the Heartbreak kicked off proceedings in spectacular style followed by Sapphire Strings, RSVP, Mophato, and culminating in the spectacular commission lead by Alex Wilson and supported by Kinetica Bloco.
The grand finale, the Compass Suite, was commenced when Kinetica Bloco supported by RSVP completed a 30 minute procession of the streets of Canary Wharf estate finishing in Canada Square Park. The stunning colours and the youthful exuberance that Kinetica Bloco bring lit the streets of the estate in spectacular style. It was a fine way to begin what was a groundbreaking composition performed by over 40 musicians on stage. The four composers brought their own individual styles to the compesition, each representing a point on the compass.
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