Tomorrow sees the start of the first-ever Birmingham Weekender. Building on the success of the Four Squares festival in 2013 and Arts Fest before that, Birmingham Weekender is a festival weekend of outdoor performance, art and entertainment, all taking place in Birmingham city centre from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 September 2015.
As part of the Weekender, BCMG gives the world premiere performances of Michael Wolters’ hour-long Requiem for solo musician with electronic accompaniment at the Great Western Arcade, Colmore Row, with staging from Stan’s Cafe. There will be three Requiem To Let performances on Saturday – 11am, 1pm and 4.30pm – and two on Sunday – 12pm and 4.30pm. Written especially to be performed in an empty shop, it will be sad, in an uplifting kind of way.
In what is Birmingham’s largest arts festival, Birmingham Weekender features an awe-inspiring programme of events from hundreds of world-class West Midlands and international artists and companies. And with one or two exceptions, all are free entry. We thought it might be useful to highlight our ‘do not miss’ events presented by other arts organisations and artists…
It would be remiss of us not to start with a musical highlight, especially as the ever-brilliant* Birmingham Opera Company* are giving three short (20 minute) performances – one on Saturday, two on Sunday – during the weekend. Described as ‘operatic chaos’, six singers will perform using no words, just composer Stephen Oliver’s expressive choice of vowels, rhythms, squeaks and warbles! Visit the Birmingham Weekender website for time and venue details.
Dance-wise there’s a lot to choose from across the Weekender, however we’ve plumbed for DanceXchange’s new work Cubes, a series of spectacular solos and duets celebrating the talent, youth and diversity of the Midlands on Saturday at 12.15pm, 2.15pm and 4.15pm on High Street; and Leamington-based Motionhouse’s Lost on Sunday at 11.30am, 2pm and 4.30pm on Central Street, Bullring, which explores the limits of what it is to be both physically and emotionally lost.
Moor Street Station welcomes its first ever Writer in Residence as poet and writer Matt Black sets up his writing desk on Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm. Matt will be writing poems and stories inspired by the bustle within the Edwardian splendour of one of England’s most evocative railway stations. Drop in for creative writing workshops and pen a line or two about what railway stations mean to you.
Over at Brindleyplace on both Saturday and Sunday, 12-4pm, Craftspace and Ikon Gallery host a Graphic and Digital Stitch Mash Up in Oozells Square – an installation/event that will see graphic illustrators and textile artists collaborate to create an embroidered artwork. Meanwhile round the corner at Brewmaster Bridge, Ikon’s Youth Programme take over the Gallery’s canal boat, with performances from local young people and drop in creative workshops.
Still Walking presents three guided tours as part of the Weekender that offer a new way of experiencing the city. All three sound really interesting and a lot of fun, however SOUNDKitchen’s 75-minute Soundwalk around central Birmingham starting at 6pm on the Friday really stands out. Discover a new appreciation for the ever changing soundscape of the city, linger on sonic features and hear the sound of architecture.
Last but not least, two events on Friday and Saturday evenings that require a ticket but are well worth the effort and minor expense of booking. Still House in association with mac birmingham and Fierce Festival presents Riders and Running Horses (tickets £5) at 6.30pm. This stirring and visceral new dance event by Dan Canham sees five female dancers and a live band conjure a new kind of old dance on top of the NCP Car Park on Newhall Street. Between 9pm and 10pm, the REP and Mem Morrison Company present Luminous – an intriguing sounding expedition through Birmingham. With headset on and album artwork in hand, discover the unknown amongst the familiar through a series of intimate performances and installations.
These events are just a taste of what is on offer during Birmingham Weekender – there are many more exciting, intriguing and entertaining events happening over the weekend (we haven’t even mentioned the night-time spectacular in Centenary Square for example). Please do come… and make the most of it by seeing as much as you can.