RSC floats balloons to stimulate some midsummer day's dreams

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In one of the most unusual free concerts ever to be performed in this country, specially composed music was piped from hot air balloons over a Warwickshire town early yesterday to try to influence people's dreams.

Seven balloons slowly floated over parts of Stratford-upon-Avon in the early hours, gently playing music inspired by Shakepeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Each balloon played a different part of the composition in an event that was a scientific experiment as well as a work of abstract art.

The flying concert by the Sky Orchestra was part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Complete Works Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon.

People in the town woke to the sight of the balloons in tight formation and the sounds of the music, which could be easily heard on the ground from the speakers hanging from the baskets.

According to the organisers, the music created as "a vast audio landscape across the town". Dan Jones, the composer, said: "The entire scenario is itself dreamlike, a literally unearthly experience that I hope will leave people feeling inspired. This is music released from the confines of gravity."

The effect will be studied by researchers from the University of the West of England looking into the impact of external influences on people's dreams. Luke Jerram, the event's organiser, said: "We hope to place people in a space somewhere on the edge of sleep in a meditative waking state, and then to inspire their imagination, sculpting dreams with music and spatial sound."

A spokesman for the Royal Shakespeare Company said the project was composed specifically for the Complete Works Festival and Fierce Festival. "Each balloon plays a different element of the musical score, creating a vast audio landscape spanning right across the town.

"Like whales calling in the ocean, the same sounds can be heard in quick succession, passing across the sky from one balloon to another."