Starmus: “It was a blast!” Brian May

Jarre/May concert - PR Photo ©Tomas Kika
Photo ©Tomas Kika




Jean-Michel Jarre and special guest Sir Brian May electrified the Bratislava skies last night with Bridge from the Future, the opening concert event of the seventh edition of STARMUS Festival. In association with ESET, a global leader in digital security; the electronic music pioneer conceived this one-off futuristic staging installation, hosting the live performance set against the stunning backdrop of the SNP (UFO) Bridge. 

During the afternoon, as the audience were congregating around the Danube from throughout the city, they were welcomed by a brand new composition titled ‘Blue Dot in Space’.  The music was specially created by Jarre specifically for this event, where real sounds of the stars were weaved into the soundscape, inviting the audience to consider our position on Earth within the cosmos, and the future of our home planet, reflecting the theme of this year’s edition of STARMUS Festival.

The staggering production featured exquisitely choreographed architectural light and laser displays which were visible from three different countries including Austria and Hungary. A mesmerising 400-drone ballet painted the night sky with a supernova-like display, while fireworks punctuated the musical score. The stage included two towering turrets at over 30 metres tall, perfectly framing the UFO bridge behind it, which itself was adorned with lights and lasers. Jarre designed the entire visual element himself, conceiving it as a score to the music. 

The concert in Bratislava represented the culmination of Jarre’s artistic vision, honed meticulously since he pioneered the concept of large-scale open-air events spanning entire cities, from Houston to Moscow and beyond. With this show in Bratislava, he continues to surpass himself, showcasing how he adeptly harnesses the latest technology to push the boundaries of live performance and entertainment. This event not only symbolises Jarre’s innovative spirit but also underscored the inseparable connection between science, technology, and art, a core principle of STARMUS Festival.

Among the concert’s repertoire of 19 musical works spanning Jean-Michel Jarre’s career was a remarkable new arrangement of Antonín Dvo?ák’s ‘New World Symphony’. Crafted by Jean-Michel Jarre and Brian May, this rendition marked a historic first-time collaboration between the iconic musicians. Each brought their individual musical backgrounds and histories to the table, converging to create a singularly distinctive performance, firmly focused on the future. Brian May also performed with Jarre on newly adapted works ‘Bratislava Time’ and ‘Rendez-vous Bratislava’. Jarre was also accompanied on stage by his backing band featuring longstanding accomplice Claude Samard and newcomer British musician Adiescar Chase who played among other instruments the violin, bass guitar and didgeridoo. They were also joined by members of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and a 19-piece chorus from the Slovak Philharmonic Choir.

The mammoth set, designed by Jarre, was constructed over a period of a month by a team of over 100 people working day and night, including hundreds of kilometres of cables, 21 screens, 150 lighting projectors and over 170 tonnes of staging equipment. It was the largest stage ever constructed in Slovakia. In an environmentally responsible approach and to offset its carbon impact, the production has also committed to the preservation and sustainable management of over 150 years of pan-European forests, notably in Slovakia.

The concert was televised on Slovakian National TV network RTVS as well as globally via the EBU network and live-streamed on Jean-Michel Jarre’s YouTube channel. The concert is available to watch online for another seven days here.

Bridge from the Future inaugurated the seventh edition of STARMUS Festival, the globe’s preeminent gathering uniting science, art, and music. This year, with the theme of ‘STARMUS Earth: the future of our home planet’, powered by ESET Digital Security, the festival convenes Nobel laureates, distinguished scientists and researchers, astronauts, intellectuals, and artists to exchange knowledge and insights as we explore profound and urgent existential questions. It was founded by astrophysicist Garik Israelian, PhD, and Queen guitarist and PhD in astrophysics Sir Brian May, under the auspices of the late Stephen Hawking. Science, often referred to as the bridge to tomorrow, holds the promise of transformative advancements – if we embrace its discoveries and predictions without hesitation.

STARMUS strives to inspire future explorers and reignite the passion for discovery by tackling pressing global challenges. Bridge from the Future embodies values of curiosity, creativity, and collaboration, echoed by main partner ESET, demonstrating their commitment to promoting science, culture, and education.

Jean-Michel Jarre said: “It is a great honour for me to be associated with Starmus Earth Festival and all the brilliant minds that will gather exceptionally in Bratislava to share their knowledge and vision with students and the general public over the week under the auspices of the extraordinary Dr Jane Goodall. Our planet needs scientists, artists and entrepreneurs that can invest their knowledge, vision and resources, beyond all political mandates, to gather together in educating the next generation, for them to be able to shape the future positively. Also as UNESCO Ambassador now for over three decades, I will always contribute where I can in pursuing progress in the fields of Education, Science & Culture : that is my mission as an active citizen of our planet and Starmus Earth in Slovakia is all about that.”

Brian May said: “It was a blast! The perfect kick-off for Starmus Earth.”

This 2024 edition of STARMUS Festival champions the theme of ‘The Future of our Home Planet,’ accentuating the vital role that both science and art play in ensuring a sustainable future for Earth. While science illuminates the truths of our universe, art and music inspire us to seek out further revelations.

The five-day event (May 13-17) comprises lectures and discussions on topics including Environment, AI and Cybersecurity, and Space. It also includes the annual presentation of the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication, for which Jean-Michel Jarre was a recipient in 2017. This year, Jean-Michel has been announced as the latest STARMUS Advisory Board member.

Photo: Tomas Kika