Laboratory comes to life

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One thing’s for sure. Chichester Cathedral will never have seen anything quite like this before.

On a stage of tangled pipework and intriguing tool boxes, nine master musicians, disguised as eccentric engineers but in reality some of France’s most seasoned composers and virtuoso soloists, bring their laboratory to life before your eyes.

Drainpipes, power drills, frying pans, bottles of red wine and chair legs will all be grist to the musical mill as Zic Zazou cross the Channel for the Chichester Festivities (Friday, July 8, 8pm).

As performer Michel Berte explains: “The adventure with this group began 30 years ago exactly. It began as a street brass band with friends, but very quickly we had the feeling that we wanted not just to play music but also to do a few shows, and very quickly we took the opportunity to become professionals. We started as amateurs, but we have been professionals for 20 years now. When you are professional, you have more time to improve your performance.

“A few years ago we had the proposition that we should change the show and use every-day things such as tools to make music and to forget our musical instruments. It took a long time to talk about doing this. Some of us didn’t want to throw the trumpet or saxophone away, so we found a compromise between the proposition and the feelings of the band. We use 90 per cent tools and ten per cent our own instruments.

“The idea is that people are in a small factory. At the beginning of the show, it is as if a door is opening with the sunshine outside. And then eight workers and a foreman come in and start working, and as they work they use their tools as instruments - bottles, chairs, grinders.

“For one of the pieces we have a rest after a big percussion piece and so we are sitting on chairs and then we start to play musical chairs - musical chairs but it is the chairs that are musical. When one of us has lost, he goes to play his chair!”