Category Archives: CLoSer

CLoSer – The First Review

We asked Laura, our Marketing Intern and newest office recruit, to give us the lowdown on the launch of CLoSer on Tuesday night.

CLoSer, our brand new concert series, launched on Tuesday with a Strings Masterclass in East London’s newest venue, Village Underground.

This renovated, turn-of-the-century, warehouse offered a versatile space, acted  as an atmospheric and edgy venue. A brilliant blank canvas of old brick, hinting at its industrial past, Village Underground transformed for the evening, hosting 200 audience members, free to relax on floor cushions, unwind at the bar and get closer to the orchestra.

The informal evening of orchestral music was led by our charismatic Principal Conductor , Michael Collins and progressed through a programme of three works, and also featured Michael  as a soloist. The minimalist Shaker Loops, by John Adams, opened the evening with energetic motion and electrifying acceleration. Gathering speed over 25 minutes, the orchestra played with vigour as the music gained speed and rhythmic excitement.


This opening piece was followed by an interview with Michael himself, carried out by our principal cellist, Sue Dorey. Touching on his ability to deftly switch role from conductor to soloist, he spoke fondly of his musical education and how he came to play clarinet as a young boy. One of the leading clarinettists of his generation, Michael’s  performance of Gordon Jacob’s mini-concerto Clarinet Concertino entertained the audience through his persuasive musicianship and buoyant, light-hearted style.

After a brief introduction to the techniques employed by the musicians, the concert came to a close with Bartok’s Divertimento for Strings; a rousing finish to the evening with its gypsy character and dance-like style. The audience  were then free to enjoy the bar and mingle with musicians before offering their feedback on their departure.

Wednesday 29th February, 7.30pm,
Village Underground,

Tickets: £15 (includes a free drink)
Box office: 020 7377 1362/


Composer Focus: John Adams & Shaker Loops

Find out about the music behind the concert, with our quick guide to John Adams’ Shaker Loops, to be performed at our first CLoSer concert on Tuesday 22 November. 

Shaker Loops
Written in 1978 by American composer John Adams, hailed as one of the great composers of minimalist music, Shaker Loops is one of his most popular and performed compositions.

Formed of four movements:

I. Shaking and Trembling
II. Hymning Slews
III. Loops and Verses
IV. A Final Shaking

Adams says of the piece “the four sections, although they meld together evenly, are really quite distinct, each being characterized by a particular style of string playing. The outside movements are devoted to ’shaking,’ the fast, tightly rhythmicised motion of the bow across the strings.


image: Margaretta Mitchell

Part II is deliberately slower and languid followed by the melodic third movement, with “the celli playing long, lyrical lines (which are nevertheless loops themselves) against a background of muted violins, an activity which gradually takes speed and mass until it culminates in the wild push-pull section that is the emotional high of the piece.” 

The piece takes its name from both the distinctive ‘shaking’ of the strings as they oscillate between notes, and the image Adams’ had of ‘Shakers’ (members of the Millennial Church), dancing and worshipping to repetitive, energetic music.

John Adams occupies a unique position in American music, with his works renowned for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes. His operatic works include Doctor Atomic and The Death of Klinghoffer and his composition On the Transmigration of Souls written for the New York Philharmonic to mark the first anniversary of the World Trade Centre attack, won three Grammys and the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2003.

He has said of London audiences “they are my ideal listeners – sophisticated, musically literate, enthusiastic and of course a little bit insane!”

Listen to our Spotify playlist for a preview of Shaker Loops.

Tuesday 22 November, 7.30pm
Village Underground, EC2A

Tickets: £15 (includes a free drink)
Box office: 020 7377 1362/

Meet the venue – Village Underground

Our newest concert venue and home for our infomal concert series CLoSer is Village Underground on the City fringe. We asked our friends and CLoSer concert partners Spitalfields Music to tell us what make’s the venue such a treat to visit.

Village Underground is one of those places you could only really find in East London. In many ways it’s quite unassuming (to enter you have to go round the back of the building), but then there’s the fact that on the roof are four old tube carriages serving as offices and the side of the building is London’s most public art gallery, The Wall, showcasing street art in all its various guises. So it’s not without its quirk!


Image: Andy Schonfelder

The space inside is a brilliant blank canvas of old brick, hinting at the building’s industrial past. It forms an intimate venue for classical concerts, allowing performing and audience spaces to blur and letting the audience get up-close with the artists, making for an unusual and exclusive listening experience.


Image: James Berry

Of course, the other great thing about Village Underground is its absolutely fantastic location. Not only really easy to get to from Shoreditch High Street on the Overground or, further down the road, Liverpool Street on the Underground and mainline, but there is a whole host of fantastic bars, restaurants and cafes to go to before and after events. There’s everything to choose from, with fine dining at somewhere like Les Trois Garçons; something simpler at Pizza East, or the Albion cafe; or just drinks at a Rivington Street bar. In addition, a five-minute walk down Commercial Street will take you to Spitalfields Market and the surrounding streets which have even more to offer!


Image: Celine Smith

Now, all this combined with music from City of London Sinfonia has to make for an unmissable night out!

Michael Duffy
Spitalfields Music

CLoSer is CLS’ short, informal concert series starting on 22 November:

 Tickets: £15 (includes a free drink)
Box office: 020 7377 1362/
Strings Masterclass – Tuesday 22 November 7.30pm
Spirit of the Voice – Wednesday 29 February 7.30pm
Jazz Finale – Wednesday 25 April 7.30pm

Get CLoSer to CLS

When watching a classical concert it is hard not to wonder at the intricacies of orchestral performance, not only how the sheer precision needed in timing and tempo is achieved, but how the problematic sections of a composition are conquered by a conductor, or simply how a musician prepares for such a piece. Many of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ aspects of orchestras are never shared with those who want to know the most, their audience. CLS are launching a brand new concert series called CLoSer, which will help to answer many of your queries in an informal atmosphere with a glass of wine in your hand!


CLoSer launches on 22 November in one of East London’s newest venues: Village Underground. These concerts, in partnership with Spitalfields Music, are designed to allow you to get closer to our orchestra with ‘talking’ programme notes throughout the performance, post concert music and discussion, as well as the chance to mingle with our musicians. And we have three very different concerts lined up to satisfy all curiosities:

Strings Masterclass – Tues 22 Nov 2011

John Adams Shaker Loops                                                            
TBC Clarinet Concertino
 Bartok Divertimento for Strings

Michael Collins clarinet/conductor

Spirit of the Voice – Weds 29 Feb 2012

Poulenc Suite Française                                                              
JS Bach French Suite                                                                  
Poulenc Le Bal Masque
Knut Nystedt Immortal Bach
Stravinsky Mass

Stephen Layton conductor
Holst Singers

Jazz Finale – Weds 25 April 2012

Milhaud La Creation du Monde
Mark-Anthony Turnage Eulogy
Gwilym Simcock Compositions

Clark Rundell conductor
Gwilym Simcock piano

Finally quench your thirst for orchestral knowledge and book tickets to get CLoSer to us!

Booking opens 5 September on 020 7377 1362 or

Tickets £15 (includes one free drink)
Early Bird Tickets – 20 £1 tickets available for each concert on a first come first served basis (phone booking only). Find out more here