Barbican’s ‘Blaze’ Festival set to set East London ablaze

The Barbican’s summer music ‘Blaze’ festival begins this weekend and runs until the end of July with events in the City and across East London.

International artists, commissions and new works mark the third annual festival staged at the Barbican as well as Bethnal Green’s Rich Mix arts centre, Wilton’s Music Hall in Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, the Shoreditch Festival, Hackney Empire and Dalston’s Gillett Square, some of it free.

The opening weekend explores the music of the Mediterranean on the Barbican free stage.

Saturday features Jaljala, The Stamp Collective and Jardares Por Fuera and a ClubStage set from Turkish DJ Mercan Dede. Sunday has audiences taking part in the Ronda, a traditional Italian group dance hosted by Ludovico Einaudi, and experience FreeStage performances from El Andaluz and Cidgem Aslan.

They are followed on both days with a concert by Ludovico Einaudi at the Barbican Hall, 7.30pm, tickets �10-�35.

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Sunday also sees Shangaan Electro at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green Road, featuring mastermind and vocalist Nozinja, clown-masked Tshetsha Boys, Tiyiselani, Nkata Mawewe and the fastest Shangaan dancers around.

Shangaan Electro replaces South Africa’s Shangaan tribal music’s traditional instruments with midi-keyboards, repitched vocal samples and jacking four-to-the-floor beats. Performance at 8pm, tickets �12.

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The legendary trumpeter Hugh Masekela performs at the Hackney Empire on July 10 and 11 with his South African band celebrating the music of Miriam Makeba, who died in 2008 age 76 and who he married in 1964. At 71, Masekela is still at the heart of his country’s music.

But his connections run deep with East London. He received his first trumpet from his early mentor, the anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Trevor Huddleston who later returned to Britain to take up the post of Bishop of Stepney in the 1970s. Tickets �15-�25.

Also at the Hackney Empire are Band of Gypsies: Taraf de Ha�douks and Kocani Orkestar, two famous Balkan bands who join forces on July 6 for an evening of wild new music and old favourites. Starts 7pm, tickets �10-�20.

The Soul Rebel Brass Band with the rich jazz traditions of their New Orleans homeland perform free in the Shoreditch Festival on the Regent’s Canal, 1-9pm, on July 16 and 17, and at Canary Wharf on July 19.

Blaze, now in its third year, runs until July 28 as part of the fourth annual Create festival celebrating Europe’s largest cultural quarter, the Olympic ‘host’ boroughs of East London where 12,000 artists live and work. Other ‘Blaze’ events can be found on the Barbican’s website:

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