Colourscape Music Festivals

This page outlines the history of my involvement with Peter Jones's inflatable structures and the creation of the Colourscape Music Festivals. The main site for the Festivals and the Eye Music Trust, which runs them, can be found here.

The Colourscape Music Festivals began in September, 1989, but the history really begins much earlier. Simon Desorgher and Lawrence Casserley, Directors of the Festivals, met first in 1970, when Simon became a student at the Royal College of Music, London and Lawrence had recently become Tristram Cary's assistant teacher in the Electronic Music Studio. Later Simon performed with Lawrence's mixed media group Hydra, and they have been close collaborators ever since.

In the early 1980s they formed a flute and live electronics duo and began giving concerts. Finding suitable engagements proved very difficult, so they decided to create some performance opportunities for others, as well as themselves. They agreed that a contemporary music festival in south London, where there were far fewer events than north of the river, was a good aim. In 1982 they performed with a dance group at the Nettlefold Hall in West Norwood. As a result they were invited to perform a duo concert there in 1983. This was a big success, so the Hall Manager invited them to make a further proposal. So, with support from Lambeth Borough Council, the Greater London Arts Association and several trust funds, the Nettlefold Festival was born in October, 1984. That 1983 concert had another important link. They performed a piece that required the audience to sit inside a tube with sounds spiralling around them. A friend suggested we commission Peter Jones to make an inflatable tube for us, which he did. "The Tube" has remained as one of our regular performance possibilities ever since.

The first Nettlefold Festival was also the first appearance of ""Tube Sculpture Simon and my performance on our Giant Panpipes. The second festival, in 1985, featured the premiere of the "Electroacoustic Cabaret", which was a regular feature at each Nettlefold Festival from then on.

By the late 1980s we had become dissatisfied with the Nettlefold Hall as a venue. While we had presented many exciting and fascinating events, and had a few sell-out crowds, it remained difficult to get good audiences consistently. We wanted to take our music out to the audience. Meanwhile we had formed a charitable trust to be the organisation behind the festivals (this is now called the Eye Music Trust), and Peter Jones had been encouraging us to make music in his Colourscape structures, but the right opportunity had not arisen. In the spring of 1989 we were invited by London's South Bank Centre to make a Colourscape presentation with music in Jubilee Gardens next to the Royal Festival Hall. both simon and I wrote new pieces especially for Colourscape, Simon's "Chakras" and my "Labyrinth". We told our new Trustees about this event, and it was they who encouraged us to move our festival into Colourscape.

We wanted to retain our link with London Borough of Lambeth, so looked for potential sites within the borough, finally settling on a site in the north-east corner of Clapham Common. While we have moved the exact site a few times, we continue to present an annual Colourscape Music Festival in that part of Clapham Common.

To open our first Colourscape Festival in September, 1989 we made a performance in another of Peter Jones's structures, the Giant Bubble. Simon Desorgher, suspended in the centre of the Bubble, floating on the Long Pond in Clapham Common, played his new piece "Music of the Spheres", while Lawrence, on the shore, fed his sound through myriad delays and pitch shifts to create a whole orchestra of flutes. This event drew a large crowd - the Colourscape Music Festivals had arrived.

In the early years of the Festivals we used one of Peter's structures, named "Hub" for our events. There was a steep learning curve to find out what types of performances worked best in Colourscape, and we experimented with the performances themselves and with new versions of Colourscape. "Hub" was reconfigured several times as part of our experiments. We came to the conclusion that a completely new version designed with performance in mind was necessary. We applied for funding to the new Foundation for Sport and the Arts, and after a long gap a letter appeared suddenly telling us we had the grant. Then followed an extensive period of consultations with Peter and Lynne to arrive at suitable structure. It soon became clear that we needed something much more abbitious than we had imagined originally, so our funding allowed us to complete only part of the structure, the new cathedral-like silver space. "Hub" was adapted once again to fit onto the new space for the 1994 Festival. We were fortunate to receive one of the first National Lottery grants to complete the new structure "Festival 1" for the 1985 Festival.

Since then, the Trust has commissioned several new structures from Peter, including "Festival 2", "ColourDome" and "Moonorooni", as well as new Bubbles.