Category Archives: CLS Behind the Scenes

The influence of Absolute Bird

Our three Absolute Bird programmes in the spring are influencing the majority of the work we’re doing in 2019, challenging and marvelling audiences and project participants alike. As our chairman, John Singer explains in our participation brochure, our artistic programmes – such as Absolute Bird and, previously, Bach and the Cosmos – are not limited to our concert series. We also explore the relative themes, music techniques and pieces from these programmes to enthuse participants’ enjoyment in our daily activities in hospitals, hospices, specialist care centres, care homes and schools.

In Absolute Bird, we’re performing a vast range of birdsong- and nature-inspired repertoire, from medieval rounds and canons such as Summer is icumen in to modern-day naturalistic sounds of the Outback by Hollis Taylor – some of the music being used to inspire multiple age groups in our wellbeing and education projects.

Here is just a taster of how we are using nature, namely birdsong, to inspire creative music-making beyond our concert series this year.

How birdsong is inspiring our projects

In our music-making workshops at St Christopher’s Hospice, patients are drawing inspiration from bird-related classical repertoire such as Couperin’s Le Rossignol en amour (featured in Absolute Bird: Flocks of Europe) and Les coucous benevoles, and excerpts of Stravinsky and Vivaldi to from their own creations of music and word with CLS musicians and workshop leader Sam Glazer.

St Christopher's Hospice visit January 2019
CLS musicians at St Christopher’s Hospice, Jan 2019

The young people at Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School get to create something a bit special with Sound Artist Gawain Hewitt and CLS musicians this term: they’ll leave a legacy of birdsong-inspired sounds in the form of an interactive sonic tree sculpture. “How?” we hear you gasp. Well, the plan is to create a tree as large as six feet tall to house 24 interactive birds that, when touched, play back music composed during the sessions. “Naturific!” And audience members at our Queen Elizabeth Hall and Southwark Cathedral concerts in May will get to see this in action.

The “nature-niche” continues with members of Headway East London, a centre for survivors of brain injuries, who will create and perform music composed in response to Absolute Bird repertoire during their five-week project in March. Imagine a sonic flotilla of these recorded creations, shaped as river birds, floating down the canal – this is what Gawain is aiming to construct for a Headway EATS event.

Recently, our participation dream-team met with vocal leader and workshop facilitator Jessie Maryon Davies to get the creative juices flowing for our summer term Creative Primaries projects in Tower Hamlets and Harrow. There are lots of possibilities for bird-related stories and repertoire for pupils and our musicians to collaborate on in Key Stage One classrooms, so watch this space for their new music.

Creative Primaries Dec 2018 Suzi Corker
Primary schools engaged in Bach and the Cosmos in Dec 2018 (image: Suzi Corker)

We’re in the thick of creative music sessions at University College London Hospital (UCLH). In the first session this term, guitarist Jack Ross led the session with clarinettist Mel Henry and CLS Violin Clare Hayes, trying out some trios with bass clarinet, violin and guitar. They based the session on the story of a little chick, about which, with the help of our musicians, the young people created an original piece in response. Staff were loving it and people were passing by the classroom often – hopefully it brightened up their Monday morning!

Where else are we using birdsong?

The subjects of nature and birdsong are also at the centre of our Comfortable Classical concerts in February and March at the Albany, Deptford, and Canada Water Theatre. Our wind and string ensembles are going to be playing and introducing the music in three relaxed lunchtime performances for anyone and everyone, from young children to older adults. Audience members are also encouraged to take up other relaxing activities (such as drawing, colouring or knitting!) while listening to the music.


Be sure to keep up to date with all our activities on Twitter @cityldnsinfonia, and on Facebook and Instagram (@cityoflondonsinfonia). You can also visit our website for information on our wellbeing and education projects, and our upcoming performances.

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The CLS team’s 2018 highlights

There have been so many great moments at City of London Sinfonia in 2018. Our team have been reflecting on some of their participation and performance highlights – enjoy the read!

Headway East London
Headway East London

Headway East London

Fiona: Working with members of Headway and CLS musicians, led by Gawain Hewitt, to create music using a range of instruments including music technology to make it an accessible experience for everyone, and resulting in interactive ‘music boxes’ containing music samples from the project that remained at Headway. Headway had seen Gawain speak at a conference about inclusive and accessible music-making so were thrilled when we brought him in to lead the project – and it also linked well with our Modern Mystics concert series. There were some wonderful moments in this project including Waffy, our principal clarinettist, playing her clarinet into the canal and it being recorded on a hydrophone and a performance at Headway EATS (Headway’s monthly supper club) that included a member talking about the science of sound over the top of an improvisation.

Catherine: The project is great! I loved creating music with the members and helping out with the planet installations. There’s such a creative atmosphere there, it was great to see their art room and chat to Headway members.

Bethlem and Maudsley residency in Camberwell and Beckenham

Fiona: Creating music with young people from eight to 18 who are being treated for a broad range of psychiatric illnesses. It’s a highlight as a result of the growing relationship that we’ve established with the school; the number of CLS musicians who have been involved in the creative teams and making music alongside the young people; and the body of work that has been produced in the moment – some of which had been shared in our podcasts and performed at the QEH as part of The Hexagon installation, designed and created by Gawain Hewitt.

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30 years of participation work celebration at the QEH

St Christopher’s Hospice workshop in Sydenham

Zak: Music is a way of living, and the people in this workshop were testament to that. The term ‘hospice’ comes with connotations of sadness, sickness and loss – but were you to walk into this brightly lit cottage at St Christopher’s, you’d be faced instead with instant new friends who represent a pure, focused way of living. And laughing. Channelling all that into music and hearing their composition lifted me up spiritually, a feeling the whole group must’ve shared.

Creative Primaries in Harrow

Fi: During the sharing of our Creative Primaries project in Harrow, I loved listening to our ensemble play Trisch-Trasch Polka whilst the Year-2 pupils and their parents/carers listened, and some of the children showed their enjoyment by miming playing the violin and dancing.

Zak: In the workshop, John made me feel like a kid again. I felt the sheer joy of learning about music in an immersive and playful way. The way the kids jumped at the chance to compose music, the way they laughed and cheered in unison, that’s how I felt on the inside.

Lullaby Concerts with Orchestras Live

Fi: A memorable moment in the Lullaby Concerts tour in October was when one toddler was so involved, he decided to invade the stage – man, that kid was a fast runner!

City of London Sinfonia.
Bach and the Cosmos: Bach Remixed. Queen Elizabeth Hall. Tuesday 16 October 2018.

Bach and the Cosmos series

Matthew: My highlight of the year was Bach’s Goldberg Variations at the Oxford University Mathematical Institute, with Professor James Sparks, that started our Bach and the Cosmos series. It was one of those moments where years of planning came together and worked perfectly – James was insightful and inspiring in explaining how and why Bach is such a mathematical composer and being so close to our musicians’ incredible playing of the Bach was thrilling. Just as wonderful was the next performance we did of that piece to an audience of older adults and very young children – with some of the latter deciding to wander through the orchestra to listen!

Zak: I’d never heard the B Minor Mass before. But it starts with an epic beginning, as if the heavens were opening, and even more appropriate then that it was in Southwark Cathedral. The beauty of this piece was not only the music, but the way you could actually see the audience thinking about the piece. They could walk around the cathedral whenever they pleased, as if they were admiring a sculpture and wanting to catch the sound from every possible angle, the way that Bach might’ve wanted it.

Catherine: Bach and the Cosmos was my first time seeing a concert at Southwark Cathedral. It’s an amazing venue and I loved seeing everyone move around during the performance and take it all in.

Tasha: Our Goldberg Variations University Tour was amazing. We got to road-trip to Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol, to venues and lecture theatres that the Orchestra had never performed in before. I loved the last concert in Bristol – rather than being on box office, I got to sit at the back of the auditorium and take it all in. Joely, one of our incredible cellists, started the concert with a beautiful solo version of the Bourrée from one of Bach’s Cello Suites before the rest of the strings joined in with Roderick Williams’ arrangement of it. It was such a powerful and moving concert – I definitely had tears at the end, and in between! As a marketer, seeing a brilliantly programmed concert series that you have been working on for the last few months come to fruition, and with great audiences, is incredibly rewarding.

City of London Sinfonia.
WW1 Centenary: Fauré Requiem. Southwark Cathedral. Saturday 10 November 2018.

WWI Centenary concert at Southwark Cathedral

Elaine: At the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, I sang in the performance of the Fauré Requiem at Southwark Cathedral to commemorate the end of World War one. It was intensely moving experience – especially listening to Bill Barclay’s emotive script.

La traviata at Opera Holland Park

Tasha: La traviata at Opera Holland Park was, without a doubt, the best opera production I’ve ever seen live. Lauren Fagan was just incredible as Violetta. There was one point during the first half – during the Sempre libera, I think – where she walked slowly forward towards the audience singing, just completely captivating us and owning the stage. OHP operas really show our Orchestra at their best too.

Concerts at St Paul’s Cathedral

Elaine: The May Organ Gala at St Paul’s included the mighty Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony. When the organ enters in the last movement the sheer noise and exuberance of the organ is thrilling and never fails to make me grin.

Alison: I’d have to say the St Paul’s Christmas concert was a highlight because it was one of my first concerts both in St Paul’s and with the full orchestra, plus it was really lovely getting to join in and have a sing-along. Nothing puts you in the festive spirit like belting out some descants!

Fi: Sitting behind the percussion during Sleigh Bells in the Christmas Celebration was so much fun!

CLS team in December 2018

Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School Residency

In 2016, the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School invited our musicians to bring their creative, responsive approach to its young people, leading to our current three-year residency. The School, based at two sites in Camberwell and Beckenham, Kent, is attended by young people aged 8-18 from across London and the South East, all of whom are living with severe mental health and psychiatric conditions.

Mental health is a crucial issue for today’s young people with more than one in ten having a diagnosable condition, and more than half of adult mental health problems beginning in childhood. Presenting a broad range of conditions including anorexia and psychosis, the young people at Bethlem and Maudsley need transformational opportunities during a difficult time in their lives. Continue reading Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School Residency

Music, technology and wellbeing

Our wellbeing work includes long-standing projects at children’s hospitals such as Evelina London Children’s and University College London hospitals, care homes in North London, hospices in South London and with survivors of brain injuries at Headway East London. We have also entered our second year of a three-year residency (supported by Youth Music) at Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School, making music with young people who have a broad range of mental health illnesses.

In our Music, technology and wellbeing podcast, Fiona and Zak from the City of London Sinfonia team discuss their experiences of music-making with CLS musicians in wellbeing settings, as well as the impact our projects have on participants and our musicians.

“Music-making is a shared experience.”
– Fiona Lambert, CLS Director of Participation

Sound Artist Gawain Hewitt also talks about how we’ve been using music technology in our recent projects to respond to some of our artistic programmes, such as Modern Mystics, Hero Worship and Bach and the Cosmos. Using technology alongside instruments makes music-making even more accessible, particularly for those with physical or psychological difficulties. In the current term, Gawain has been working alongside CLS musicians and participants to create pieces that respond to Bach’s compositional structures, as well as composing using numbers, sequence and patterns.

“Everyone has the right to be music-makers.”
– Gawain Hewitt, Sound Artist and Workshop Leader

Hear more from Fiona, Zak and Gawain in our Music, technology and wellbeing podcast, available for free download on SoundCloud and Apple Podcasts.

Building on our experience in care homes

Written by Natasha Krichefski, CLS Participation Projects Manager

City of London Sinfonia (CLS) has a long-standing reputation for delivering concerts in care homes, in partnership with Jewish Care, across a range of homes in North London. Building on a new relationship with the Jewish Care ‘Creative Arts’ and Betty and Asher Loftus Centre ‘Living Well’ teams, we recently worked closely together to develop an exciting new pilot for our work.

As Resident at the Betty and Asher Loftus Centre, we worked in the three care homes on the campus over a period of four days. We aimed to look at ways of developing the current format to allow a more flexible responsive approach to residents and make improvements to the residents’ sense of wellbeing, whether we met them in lounges, their rooms, corridors, or in a more formal concert setting, whilst keeping the highest quality of music at the core.

Responding to the needs of care home residents

We wanted to respond strategically to the partner’s desire for us to provide activity for the more isolated, “hard to reach” residents who either chose not to or are unable to attend our concerts and who rarely engaged in any activities in the homes. Becoming Resident on the campus enabled us to build relationships with staff and residents in a way that wasn’t previously possible with a single fleeting concert performance. We were also able to fit with Jewish Care’s commitment to the Principles of Person Centred Care, as well as reflect the principles of Participatory Arts promoted by Jewish Care’s Creative Arts team.

“Working in partnership with CLS and Caroline Welsh was a pleasure. We welcome the opportunity to work with artists and arts providers that are able to respond the needs of our residents, by working together with us to develop bespoke projects. The focus on a participatory approach showed great benefits for both our most isolated residents and the CLS musicians.”

Caroline D’Souza (Arts Development Manager, Jewish Care)

Following dementia training from Jewish Care and a music improvisation session led by animateur Caroline Welsh, the project started in earnest: we opened up the rehearsal sessions so that curious passers-by could pop in; ambient music accompanied the lunch hour in the lounges; and for the first time we visited residents in their rooms for a series of interactive moments, playing to and talking with those people who don’t currently have as much engagement with other residents or staff.

Pairs of musicians were partnered with a member of the Living Well team who could brief musicians on the needs of residents, accompany each visit and provide feedback. Drawing on their specialist skills, expertise and relationships with residents, we were able to target isolated residents and create moments of connection and engagement that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible.

We continued to deliver daily concerts, one in each home, but with an added sense of familiarity as the musicians had built relationships with several of the residents and staff and could refer to the audience by name.

Measuring the impact of our visits

Evaluation formed an important part of the collaborative process, with both organisations reflecting extensively on the best approach to measuring the impact of the project on the participants, the care home environment and our musicians. The Living Well team provided baseline synopses on each of the residents and gave written follow-up summaries after each of the visits.

The project not only allowed us to work with a larger number of residents on this occasion, but we were also able to make a major change to the range of activity offered through the partnership and achieve a much deeper sense of engagement. Over the course of the four days, the Living Well team saw great change in mood and a new openness to interaction and connection from some of the residents.

For example, a team member described one of the residents before the activity as someone who didn’t like socialising, but on the final day of the project, the team member explained: “I felt she didn’t want the interaction to stop today, whereas in general she shows a preference to short interactions unless she really knows the person well and trusts them.”

Another resident was initially described as having “low mood and withdrawn”, but after the first day of visits, the musicians and resident were “smiling and laughing together at the end of the session and he asked when they were coming again”.

Having worked more closely with the Creative Arts and Living Well teams and having started to develop a new practice in this context, we are very much looking forward to working together again and using our learning to inform future projects.

Many thanks to Dunhill Medical Trust and Rayne Trust for generously supporting this project.


Find out more about our participation work in care homes on YouTube.

Japan Tour Day 7!

After a well earned rest day, which many of our group spent in the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto (see pictures), it was back to work today.

Concert four saw us in Nagoya, one of Japan’s industrial nerve centres and the home of Toyota. The hall, the NTK Forest Hall, was a vast, hangar like space – Michael Collins joked that his pilot son could probably park a 737 in it. And we were warned that only 850 of its 2,200 seats had been sold. Well, four out of five concerts being sold out is ok we reasoned, and we’ll play our socks off for the 850 who have bought a ticket. (And being frank, most UK chamber orchestras – ourselves included – would kill to be disappointed with an 850 audience for most of their concerts.)

(Prior to the concert, my first conveyer belt sushi experience in Japan – see picture. Their UK counterparts pale in comparison…)

We need not have feared. Whether our hosts were managing our expectations by giving us a pessimistically low number, or there were many last minute sales, what we were greeted with was an audience of at least 1,700, brimming with enthusiasm.

We have now got used to the audience mouthing along to the words, and joining in with the actions to the chop-chop-chopping of the Barbershop Song, but at the end of the concert we got our first standing ovation. A rare occurrence in Japan I understand, and many of those standing were in tears, with one man constantly bowing to us.

After the concert, a quick turnaround to Nagoya Station to catch the last Shinkansen to Tokyo. Orchestral musicians are a resourceful lot, and refreshing beverages were purchased ahead of the journey (see picture), supplemented by CLS management. Our Shinkansen party caused a minor diplomatic incident, however. The guard had to come and remind us that as this was the late night train, many passengers were trying to sleep. We were all high from the audience reaction, and consequently conversation was ‘animated’.

Tomorrow we are being sent all across the Tokyo Metropolitan Area to perform Meet the Music projects and concerts in a care home, kindergarten and children’s hospice. Meet the Music is central to what we do in the UK and we integrate it into all of our projects, including international touring. At the kindergarten we are performing in, 12 young Japanese professional musicians and education producers are coming to observe our wonderful animateur Claire Henry, and our musicians. Four of us then go to the Brtish Council offices in Tokyo to share how we work with a wider group of Japanese musicians and producers.

We then have our authentic Japanese Karaoke party to look forward to / approach with embarrassed fear…

 

Japan tour day 5

Day 5, and back to work, after yesterday’s day of travels and goodwill with our hosts at Min On.

Another sold out concert at Osaka Symphony Hall, probably the finest acoustic we have experienced on tour so far, then outside the concert hall, another great example of Japanese respect and consideration for guests: the entire front of house team lined up to send us on our way (here joined by Performances Manager Patrick), and as the coach left they all bowed in unison*.

Both we and the hall team then waved to each other until our catch was out of sight. More etiquette here, as it is considered rude to walk away before your guests are out of sight in case the guests think you do not care about them!

Earlier, we perfected some more of our own Japanese etiquette on stage. The orchestra now walks on together, waits until everyone is in position and then bows in unison. The applause immediately grows louder in appreciation of this gesture – our way of respecting Japanese customs and formality.

Post concert, travel to our next stop in Nagoya by Shinkansen, with all of 39 seconds to unload an entire orchestra at our destination, such is the punctuality of this amazing service!

Tomorrow is our rest day proper, with many of us taking the chance to visit Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, and this blog also takes a rest. More to report from Tuesday’s concert in Nagoya, then Wednesday’s Meet the Music and British Council projects around Tokyo, before our final concert in Yokohama on Thursday. Sayonara!

*A note on how to bow correctly in Japan from our violinist Takane Funatsu. Bend waist and neck, thinking (and the phrase is a good indicator of length of bow as well), “oh my shoes are so dirty!”.

Japan tour day 4!

No concert today, but a day of travel to Osaka, octopus balls (!), and later sharing food and good company with our hosts Min On. And the travel means….

Shinkansen!!!! (Bullet train)

If you find the subject of trains boring, scroll down to the bit about food in Osaka. If, however, you know Sinkansen to be the most fascinating and seriously cool mode of transport, then feast your eyes on the picture attached.

I’ll spare you the technical details (that’s what Wikipedia is for), save to say that for those interested, we travelled on the Nozami Express on an N700 class train.

More interestingly, Shinkansen are super quick (think 200mph plus), super smooth, super punctual (to the second) and VERY EXCITING. I admit to turning into the ten year old boy who first watched a documentary about them and has long wanted to go on one. Tick.

Osaka itself is an amazing city, very much Manchester/Glasgow to Tokyo’s London: impenetrable accent, industrial work hard / play hard ethic, great shopping, handsome rather than beautiful architecture, and an obsession with snow crab and octopus. Perhaps the last bit is unique to Osaka…

The food here really is amazing, from super high end to street stalls knocking out their one brilliantly cooked speciality. Osakan’s have a phrase: eat til you drop (very loosely translated). A few of us attempted just that at the Kuromon Ichiban Food Market where aisles upon aisles of stalls feature everything from 100 yen shops (=75p) to counters selling wagyu beef or tuna costing £100+ per kilo. Our own menu focused around an Osaka obsession: octopus.

takoyaki – octopus balls, crisp on the outside, gooey inside

Grilled baby octopus on a stick, with a quail egg stuffed inside its head

okonomiyaki – thick pancakes with cabbage, octopus and pork, topped with mayo, bonito flakes and a kind of brown sauce.

The evening was devoted to more food with our friends at Min On, at a traditional Japanese joint (kimono clad waiting staff, shoes off at the door) for a multi course feast, much sake, many toasts, and a few songs from our very own Joely Koos and her “air cello”. Put on the spot, Joely had to improvise and cajole colleagues to create an impromptu cabaret for our Japanese friends!

Tomorrow is concert three. Back to the grindstone!

 

Iain Farrington: Song Arranger

Iain Farrington, the unsung star of CLS’s CLoSer concert with Sam Lee, made quite an appearance without actually stepping foot on stage. Perhaps when I tell you he’s a composer and arranger, that might actually make a lot more sense. He’s also got a phenomenal performing career as a pianist (check him out playing at the London Olympics with the LSO).

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Iain Farrington

On Thursday 17 November, Folk song collector Sam Lee sang songs from his Mercury Prize nominated album Grounds Of Its Own, and The Fade In Time, but in a way he’s never sung them before—with an orchestra—thanks to the genius of Iain Farrington, whose busy and diverse career has led him to arrange for a wide range of styles like traditional African songs, Berlin cabaret, folk, klezmer, jazz and pop, to name just a few.

 

For this concert, Iain arranged 8 songs of Sam Lee’s, turning folk music for a relatively small ensemble of 6 musicians into a large scale orchestral work for 36. If you’re doing the maths, you’d think an arranger could just give sextuples of six different parts and call it a day.

But Iain didn’t.

He wants to bring live music to as wide an audience possible (CLS does too!), and whether you love classical music and don’t know much about folk, or visa versa, Iain’s arrangements of Sam’s songs take you to the ‘other side’.

  1. How do you even start to go about arranging Sam’s folk songs with 5-6 players and then making that work for an orchestra of 36 musicians?

It’s not just the fact that Sam Lee’s band is a folk collective, but the instruments they use are not necessarily orchestral instruments (e.g. banjo, ukulele, koto, hang drums, violin, cello, trumpet, percussion, double bass). When you listen to how they play, it’s relatively free and semi-improvised. They’ve worked out a sound specific to that group.

I’ve kept the original harmony and structure and some harmonic phrases, but because of the bigger orchestra, I’ve redesigned the songs to work orchestrally whilst still retaining the sound of Sam Lee’s musicians. Some songs lend themselves to orchestra, others are lighter, and one had to be rewritten (Lovely Molly) which is choral. New harmonies and solos from several instruments will be bringing out the text. The hammer dulcimer will feature and improvise, bringing out the element of complete freedom, which is important to have when you’re crossing these worlds.

The biggest challenge for these songs is down to the fact that Sam’s is a song collector. He’s collected songs from different places and people, who often sing unaccompanied, wonderfully free, with tempos that are flexible and highly expressive and not wedded to any regular rhythmic accompaniment in quite a number of his songs. Small bands find this easier because you follow the lead singer, but in an orchestra this is more difficult. I wanted to retain the freedom that allows Sam to be flexible.

  1. How important is the text to the songs when you’re putting an arrangement together?

I’ve taken the text as the be all and end all. The words are illustrative of nature, landscapes, birdsong, ideas of town and country, love and marriage. Sam’s versions are cutting edge, not saccharine, with an immediacy and appealing grit to the sound. It’s not lush or romantic, and likewise I wanted to avoid that sentimentality. Folk songs for larger ensembles run the risk of sounding too fattened up, too rich, leaving none of the grit left. I wanted to retain that element of raw clarity.

samleecls-83
Sam Lee Credit Jo Russell
  1. Why did you choose to arrange 8 of Sam’s songs?

I wanted to make sure there was enough variety. It’s easy to do one type of arrangement, but I wanted enough contrast. Orchestral arrangements can be dull when adapting pop music, for example, which uses loud guitars and drums, where a string section might only play chords, with a jab from the brass, a trill from the winds. I think if you’re going to be working with an orchestra, you have to write for the musicians properly. Be exploratory. Try and make things interesting for both the audience and the musicians themselves. The orchestra isn’t the background but in the foreground.

About Iain Farrington 

Iain Farrington has an exceptionally busy and diverse career as a pianist, organist, composer and arranger. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London and at Cambridge University. He has made numerous recordings, and has broadcast on BBC Television, Classic FM and BBC Radio 3. Through his multi-faceted work as a musician, he aims to bring live music to as wide an audience as possible. Iain’s concert programmes often mix popular and jazz elements into the traditional Classical repertoire. His many chamber orchestral arrangements allow large-scale works to be presented on an affordable smaller scale. His biography can be found here.

By Zak Hulstrom

Our year in pictures – 2015

It was quite a year at CLS. We began 2015 with our Émigré series, full of music by composers who travelled the globe looking for fame and fortune, new artistic experiences, or just a safe place to call home. We did some travelling of our own when we visited Mexico in the spring, before setting up camp once again with Opera Holland Park over the summer. This autumn saw the beginning of our RE:Imagine series, which explores composers’ new interpretations and perspectives on existing works. Take a stroll with us down memory lane and see some of our highlights from 2015…

With the help of some brilliant cat gifs, we channelled our inner dancers for the tango-inspired CLoSer: To and From Buenos Aires. We also reminded ourselves just how weird cats can be!

The real dancers who joined us for the concert were brilliant, though!

 

In April, Russian-born New York composer and violist Ljova joined us for a special residency. He delighted us all with his beautiful blend of classical music, Russian folk, Klezmer and jazz, reflecting his own émigré roots. In anticipation of his arrival, we all thought up our favourite viola jokes…

Continue reading Our year in pictures – 2015