Decompressing Meltdown - RT Interview
6/27/2010 (updated 6/27/2010)

Beekeeper: What are your post-Meltdown thoughts as curator?

RT: I'm so glad to have been a part of it. It was a fantastic festival, very successful by most criteria, and I'm relieved that we got through it without any major disasters.

Can you tell us what a Meltdown Curator's responsibilities entail?

The curator is really an artistic director, responsible for the concept and the programme. In reality, this was a big collaborative effort. I was supposed to dream of my ideal festival, and then the team at South Bank would get as close to that as possible, given that some acts are unavailable, and there are practical budget considerations. Jane Beese and her team at SBC did most of the legwork, but all roles overlapped. We also had great input from Nancy Covey and Sam Epstein.

Please give us your highlights of the festival.

The Kate McGarrigle tribute was extraordinary - they will be talking about that for years to come. Guitar night was a dream line up, a night of unrepeatable moments. Charles Hazlewood and the Philharmonia playing Vaughan Williams and Hovhaness was quite spectacular, as was Olly Coates and the quartet playing 20th century chamber music. And of course I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.

What were the challenges?

The short lead time was the hardest thing. Meltdown traditionally starts booking only three months ahead - most festivals have about a year - so a few things were hard to pull off, and we were scrambling at the end. With more time, we might have been able to stage the Raihan show, which we sadly lost, and the French Cabaret show, which needed a few more months to pull together.

How was your second performance of Cabaret of Souls received?

I'd say mixed. Due to everyone involved forgetting to print a programme for the performance, the audience was a bit in the dark about the theme and structure of the piece, and it was underwhelmingly reviewed. This was a much better performance in every way, better singing, great string players, great playing from Danny. At some point, this needs to become a theatrical piece, and then it will make more sense to the audience.

Have the various musical partnerships you experienced led to any thoughts of future collaborations?

I think most of the collaborations were one-offs, and it will be impossible to recreate some of those moments. Here and there some links have been forged, and may be ongoing.

Have any of the performances been recorded for future release (CD or DVD)?

We have video and audio of some nights. Getting permissions to release these performances will be complicated, but I hope they'll see the light of day.

Will there be any souvenirs auctioned for charity?

We have some great artifacts from the festival that will appear in upcoming auctions - stay tuned!

What else about the overall experience would you like to share?

This was a musical feast that I'm still digesting, and still recovering from! It took a few days to recuperate from months of planning and worrying. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but I'm not one of life's great organisers, and I'm happy to step back to the musical side now, and let others do the promoting.

Zak Hobbs and Muna Mascolo with Kami, Jack, Linda, Richard & Teddy Thompson

Additional Photographic Memories:

Southbank Centre

Annaliese Moyer, Stage Right Photo

Also see Catch of the Day for day-to-day reviews of each performance.

Guardian Summary