When Stéphane Brochu thought of perching musicians on top of a wind turbine, he thought getting authorization and insurance would be his biggest challenges.
It turned out finding musicians who didn't have vertigo to perform 80 metres above the ground was the more grueling task.
"Let's just say we made a lot of calls," said Brochu, the director of the Festival Musique Bout du Monde, in Gaspé, Que.
The festival has been celebrating world music in the town of 15,000 people for the past 15 years, attracting world-renowned artists like Tiken Jah Fakoly and Angélique Kidjo.
For its upcoming edition next summer, the organizers wanted to showcase the beauty of the region while reflecting the importance of the festival's environmental practices.
They approached a wind energy think-tank in Gaspé, the TechnoCentre éolien, to get access to one of the wind turbines scattered across the Gaspé peninsula — a growing part of the region's economy.
"It's become one of the jewels of the Gaspé," Brochu said.
Playing the oud 80 metres high
Brochu was able to convince three local musicians to climb the ladder inside the 80 metre turbine: Balby Gadoh on percussions, Yvette Theriault on the accordion and Justin Garneau on the oud.
Garneau, who has worked in the wind industry for nearly 10 years, said the team was comfortable during the video shoot, which required two separate takes, because they were strapped in and felt 100% safe.
"To perform was one thing, but to see the images taken from a drone was quite spectacular," he said.
Garneau wrote the piece of music the musicians performed and was inspired by his experiences learning Indian music in Toronto and Montreal.
'Music part of our DNA'
Stéphane Brochu said natural beauty and the environment have always been central to the festival's vision.
Every year, one show is performed on the cliffs of the Cap-Bon-Ami at sunrise, an event that has become a signature event for the festival.
Performers like Martha Wainwright, the duo Milk & Bone and Chloé Sainte-Marie have tested their vocal chords in the early hours of the morning in front of captivated audiences.
Brochu said the formula is so popular, festivals in Europe have approached him about how to adapt the concept.
"The buzz from this is bringing top-level artists that we wouldn't have the resources for, but who are interested in coming."
Brochu said there is something in the air in Gaspé which has rooted the festival in the community and become a sought-after event for both locals and visitors.
"People from every background know how to play piano, or guitar, or sing — there's clearly music in our DNA."
The next sunrise performance will be announced on Nov. 24, and the lineup for the 15th edition of the festival will be unveiled during the winter.