2015 festival ‘broadcasts’ theme and first acts

Freedom Festival – the flagship arts and culture event in Hull, the next UK City of Culture – has announced the first details of its 2015 line-up, which includes a headline performance from one of the country’s most exciting live bands, Public Service Broadcasting, and new work from internationally-renowned, pioneering sound artist Scanner.

Under the 2015 festival theme of ‘Broadcast: Voices of Freedom’, the three-day event on 4th-6th September will also feature Tubular Bells For Two, a ground-breaking reworking of Mike Oldfield’s multi-layered, 20-instrument masterpiece by just two musicians, Daniel Holdsworth and Aidan Roberts, performed in the unique setting of England’s largest parish church, Hull’s Holy Trinity.

The festival’s opening night will include a spectacular and uplifting site-specific performance, Voices of Freedom, which explores the River Hull, its past and its impact in shaping the future of the city.  Taking place on and around the city’s Scale Lane swing bridge and illuminating the River Hull in this way for the first time, Voices of Freedomis a mass choral performance that speaks of the relationship between the river and its people, featuring newly-commissioned work from composer Graeme Stewart.

Programme information:

  • Public Service Broadcasting: The duo will give a spellbinding live performance on the Saturday night of the festival of their acclaimed 2015 album The Race for Space, weaving samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material around live drums, guitar, banjo and electronics
  • Humber Calling is a collection of six brand new, non-art-form-specific artist commissions* curated by UK sound artist Scanner (Robin Rimbaud), whose controversial early work incorporated mobile phone conversations found by scanning police airwaves. Scanner is renowned for creating cinematic, immersive sound scores and has composed a new piece of music for the festival, Air Time – now on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/FreedomFestHull – based on the ‘Broadcast: Voices of Freedom’ theme
  • Tubular Bells for Two: Australian musicians Daniel Holdsworth and Aidan Roberts perform Mike Oldfield’s seminal album – originally recorded in 1973 and the first release on Richard Branson’s Virgin record label – faithfully recreating the masterpiece in real time as they leap around the stage using more than 20 instruments. The award-winning show, described as ‘the musical equivalent of the triathlon, with bells on’, will be performed on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th September – tickets available after 10am on 22nd April at www.hullboxoffice.co.uk (£17 / £15)
  • Voices of Freedom: This opening night spectacular centred on the River Hull will feature Hull’s Freedom Chorus, with local people with a connection to the river joining the mass choral performance. Local historian Rob Bell has created the story for the show, which features new work by composer Graeme Stewart (composer/conductor for BBC Ulster; Musical Director for The Return of Colmcille for Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013). Further opportunities for local people to take part in the show will be announced next month

Now in its eighth year, Freedom Festival celebrates Hull’s historic links to the cause of freedom as the birthplace of anti-slavery pioneer William Wilberforce. It will feature more than 200 acts – music, street theatre, outdoor arts, comedy, spoken word and more – across three days, set on the streets of Hull’s historic Fruit Market and in other city centre locations.

Liz Pugh, co-founder of Festival Directors Walk the Plank said: “The theme for this year draws attention to connections between the human voice and the message of freedom. From new commissions curated by Scanner, to the idea of making a big noise about the city and its artists and of amplifying the best of what’s in Hull all year round, the programme has been inspired by the theme throughout, with many additional elements to be announced in the coming weeks and months.”

Liz Pugh continued: “The idea of broadcasting as the opposite of narrowcasting is key – today, sophisticated technology often filters what we can and can’t see. This festival offers such a breadth of programme that you’re guaranteed to be taken by surprise by a new band, delighted by an amazing street show, or enthralled by a pop-up performance you just happen across.”

Freedom Festival Trust Board Chair Graham Chesters said that audience participation and the empowering of Hull residents to tell their own stories would be key elements of this year’s festival.

“As well as more artist information, we will soon be outlining details of community programmes that give a new platform to local people. We were thrilled with the response to last year’s festival and are constantly looking for fresh ways to reach and engage people in the city and further afield. We have a very exciting summer ahead.”


*Humber Calling – information for artists wishing to submit commission ideas will be available end April 2015.

Humber Calling is a joint commission for Freedom Festival Trust and Roots & Wings, funded by the Arts Council of England through the Creative People and Places Programme, and supported by KC.

Voices of Freedom is a joint commission for Freedom Festival Trust and Roots & Wings, funded by the Arts Council of England through the Creative People and Places Programme, and supported by Riverside and Compendium Living.

Freedom Festival celebrates, through artistic and cultural expression, Hull’s independent spirit and historic contribution to the cause of freedom. Hull’s premier festival event grew out of bicentenary commemorations in Hull in 2007 of William Wilberforce’s Act of Parliament, which led to the abolishment of the slave trade in the British Empire.

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