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Listen to Excess Baggage for

14 July 2007


The Three Choirs festival at the cathedrals of Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester is regarded as one of the oldest in Europe, already well established in the early 1700s.  Folk and Jazz festivals proliferated in the post war years and pop festivals have also gone from strength to strength.

From Glastonbury to Glyndebourne, the range of music to be found in festivals across the country has never been greater, with classical, jazz, rock, folk and world music jostling for enthusiasts’ attention across the summer. And it’s not just this country, music festivals now happen all over the world, and the more remote the location the more attractive it is to the serious festival goer.

Sandi Toksvig is joined by four aficionados whose quests for festival music have taken them around the world as well as closer to home; Alex Poots, director and commissioner of the Manchester International Festival; Elinor Goodman, political journalist best known to Radio 4 audiences as a presenter of the Week in Westminster; Nick Maes, travel writer who has recently returned from his first festival in Essaouira in Morocco; Simon Broughton, contributor to the Rough Guide to World Music and editor of the magazine Songlines, also dedicated to world music.

Presented by Sandi Toksvig


Photo: Womad Festival

This week’s guests:

Alex Poots
is the director of the Manchester International Festival. Alex started as a concert manager on the Edinburgh Festival and went on to produce Meltdown, events at the Barbican and at the Tate Modern, as well as concerts like Fat Boy Slim on Brighton beach, the English national opera and the Summer festival in Somerset.

Alex is a keen festival goer. He has been to the tiny Port Eliot festival in the UK, to the South by South West music festival in Austin Texas, the Venice Biennale, Sonar in Barcelona and his favourite, Glyndebourne. He has yet to travel to the festival in the desert in Mali.

Manchester International Festival
(28 June – 15 July 2007)

BBC Imagine series - Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlett and Chen Shi Zheng's opera, Monkey, Journey To The West.

Monkey Journey to the West

Elinor Goodman was for many years a political correspondent and then political editor of Channel Four News.  She retired a couple of years ago and now presents the Week in Westminster on Radio 4.  Elinor had always been interested in an eclectic range of music especially classical vocal music (but not opera).  She discovered that she liked world music and found that music festivals gave her an opportunity to travel and meet people with similar tastes.

Nick Maes is a novelist and Guardian travel writer.  Nick has worked in various fields over the years, in theatre, fashion, radio and as a journalist.  He has published two novels: Not Dark Yet which is set in the Aeolian Islands and The Africa Bar which is set in Zanzibar

Nick was persuaded to go to Essaouira, a French colonial town, on the south end of Morocco’s Atlantic coast for his first experience of music festival.  The town was built in the 18th century by a French architect for the local caliph and is nowadays a very picturesque fishing port.  The Gnaoua festival takes place over five day in the third week of June and features music ostensibly from all over the world including gnaoua music, a North African style which dates from the sixteenth century when it came from Guinea with slaves.  There’s no admission charge.

Simon Broughton is a writer and film maker who has been involved in the world music scene for many years.  He is editor of the world music magazine Songlines and co-editor of the Rough Guide to World Music. His recent TV documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4 include Breaking the Silence: Music in Afghanistan, Sufi Soul: The Mystic Music of Islam and Mariza and the Story of Fado.

Simon studied Russian and Music at Durham University.  He pioneering documentaries with Andy Kershaw, including Now That's What I Call Mali!, a musical journey along the Niger for Radio 1 and Radio 4 in 1989.  He also made documentaries for BBC2's Rhythms of the World series, many classical music films and directed multi-camera concerts.

Rough Guide to World Music: Africa and the Middle East
Simon Broughton (Editor), Mark Ellingham (Editor), Jon Lusk (Editor)
Publisher: Rough Guides; 3Rev Ed edition
ISBN-10: 1843535513
ISBN-13: 978-1843535515

The Rough Guide to World MusicVol 2 (Including Latin & North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific)
Mark Ellingham (Author), James McConnachie (Author), Simon Broughton (Editor)
Publisher: Rough Guides; 2Rev Ed edition
ISBN-10: 1858286360
ISBN-13: 978-1858286365
The Three Choir Festivals is a music festival, held each August alternately at the cathedrals of Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester.
Music Festivals

BBC recommends: Virtual Festivals
Great guide to all the major European music festivals, featuring line-ups and live coverage

BBC recommends: eFestivals
In addition to providing festival-goers with the latest news and ticket info, this site also offers reviews, photos, interviews and line-up information

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Sandi ToksvigSandi Toksvig:
The daughter of a foreign correspondent, Sandi has been travelling all her life more info
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