Arcadia Spectacular

Arcadia Spectacular, known colloquially as “Arcadia”, are a performance art collective that combine elements of sculpture, architecture, recycling, pyrotechnics, lighting, circus and music into large scale performance and dance spaces. Best known for their 50-tonne “Spider”, they rework ex-military machinery and industrial components into installations and 360-degree arenas, following a transformational and environmental ethos.

A permanent fixture at Glastonbury festival since 2007 with their own arena holding over 60,000 people, they have also toured the world bringing their shows to Miami’s Ultra Festival, Bangkok, Seoul, Taipei, Perth, New Zealand, and their 10th Anniversary festival in London.

“…following the success of the Arcadia Spectacular Metamorphosis show, I was asked to help curate and musically direct an entire live band – The Mechanical Orchestra – to perform on and around the “Spider” for Glastonbury Festival 2016…”

Attend meetings with creative and technical directors.

Conceptualise live performance show for Arcadia Spectacular, working collaboratively with the entire creative team.

Compose 30-minute score to follow concept.

Curate live performance by sourcing musicians and leading rehearsals for live band to perform on the ‘Spider’ stage at Glastonbury 2016.

Quickly take on board feedback from rehearsals and modify any musical elements rapidly in an on location situation where resources are limited, deadlines are tight and many team members are involved (over 200 crew).

In the initial meeting with the Arcadia creative team, I suggested that we built upon the previous Metamorphosis theme, and make the music follow its own journey of a metamorphosis through the ages. Starting with tribal rhythms, progressing into early string and wind instruments playing Celtic melodies, then adding electric guitars and amplification to transition into a rock sound, and finally replacing all sounds with electronic synths to create the most futuristic style. They loved this idea and agreed to move forward with it.

Once I had completed the music demo, quoted the budget for putting the band together, arranged all necessary licences, and had the concept signed off by the Arcadia team, it was time to start rehearsals and organising the live performance.

There were to be 21 crowd drummers walking on stilts, 3 aerial violinists, 3 drummers on stage, myself on guitar, plus a keyboardist and bass player.  A total of 30 musicians. There were no opportunities to rehearse as a full band, so I set up proxy rehearals where groups of us met up to go over the parts. The only full band rehearsal would be on site the day before the first live performance, which were set to be following the headline DJ each day of the festival with three performances in total.

Working with the lighting and pyrotechnic crew, we created a time coded performance with highly synced visual effects and explosive fire that moved in time with the music as it was being performed. I also made use of the 360 degree sound-system, to create a fully immersive experience, with drums and sound effects panning around the entire arena for the introduction to the show.

The performances were a huge success, and are set to be combined into further Arcadia shows in the future.

Music Consultation – Provided music research & concept development

Music composition – Composed 30 minute score with 4 main movements

Music production – Fully produced and recorded all musical elements, organised recording sessions, and ensured highest quality sound reproduction across all formats.

Mix Engineer – Provided final mixes, stems, backing tracks and parts for technical approval and mastering.

Musical Director – Worked with creative and technical teams to help navigate all complications involved in having live musicians performing in a high-risk stage environment.

Band Leader – Auditioned musicians and confirmed performers. Organised mutliple rehearsals over 1 month period. Provide all necessary scores, files and cues to musicians.

Live Guitarist – Performed live on Spider stage on all 3 days of Glastonbury festival.

Initial demo completed with 1 week.

Following feedback sessions, final masters provided 20 days later.

2 Weeks rehearsals on location at Glastonbury Festival.

3 Performances – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, following headline DJ.