On 8 May, we headed to Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall for the first time since the Hall’s refurbishment and grand reopening in April. This was the first of many collaborations to come at the QEH and our debut working with Australian composer and violist Brett Dean.
As with many of our ‘seriously informal’ concerts, Hero Worship departed from the regular orchestral concert format, offering a narrative and images (not too dissimilar to that of a TED talk) to help us better understand Beethoven’s life and music. Cue entertaining Cambridge historian.
Sir Christopher Clark, Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge, gave our audience insight into the historical, political and social contexts that influenced Beethoven and his compositions. Intertwined with musical canapes from his early symphonies and septets, the narrative spanned from his early years to the uncovering of the Heiligenstadt Testament following Beethoven’s death (listen to Brett Dean’s explanation in our podcast).
Brett Dean was welcomed to the podium to conduct the centrepiece of the evening: his “fantastic” and “pretty tricky” (as described by Creative Director and Leader Alexandra Wood) contemporary take on Beethoven’s famous document, Testament.
We’d had a taste of who Beethoven was before his Heiligenstadt trip and Napoleon’s betrayal, and now it was time to discover his reformed style in the ‘Eroica’: the Symphony that altered the course of music. With Brett Dean directing the Symphony from the viola and the majority of our musicians standing (thank goodness the violins relaxed in their break – pictured), ‘strong inner voices sprang to life, unfurling the symphony as a gigantic piece of chamber music’ (The Observer).
Despite having known each other for decades, Brett Dean and Sir Christopher Clark had never been on a stage together before. Their bows at the end of the performance showed what a joy it had been, and the simultaneous rapturous applause confirmed that it was a joy for everyone involved.
— CityofLondonSinfonia (@CityLdnSinfonia) May 9, 2018
Tweets from the night
— Richard T Kelly (@RichTKelly) May 9, 2018
If you missed this last night….well damn. So so brilliant! Congrats to @CityLdnSinfonia on an amazing performance of @brettdeanmusic Testament and Beethoven Eroice…incredibly moving and thrilling!! https://t.co/gNsQJplQ9L
— Lotte Betts-Dean (@lottebettsdean) May 9, 2018
Breathtaking virtuosity from @CityLdnSinfonia under the masterly direction of #BrettDean tonight at the QEH. Phenomenal Beethoven 3 – so incredibly alive, with stunning ensemble and solos throughout. The new QEH’s acoustic is transformed too! Deeply special concert.
— Paul Max Edlin (@PaulMaxEdlin) May 8, 2018
For more information about the performance and to learn about our next concert, Bach Remixed, coming up in October, be sure to search #CLSattheQEH on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or sign up to our mailing list for email updates.