Category Archives: ÉMIGRÉ

Banned and dangerous art: Eisler, Korngold and Stravinsky

Our upcoming concert, From Hollywood to New York, explores the work of various European composers who sought fame, fortune or refuge in the USA in the early part of the 20th century. Several of these composers fled to the New World to escape from wartime Europe, at a time when Nazi Germany began to encroach on the personal and professional lives of millions. Eisler, Korngold and Stravinsky, whose music we perform on 2 May, were publicly denounced by the Third Reich as ‘degenerate music’ (‘Entartete Musik’ in German), a condemnation which had severe affects not only on their career, but also general livelihood.

In this blog, we take a closer look at ‘degenerate music’ and these composers’ associations with the term.

We perform Eisler’s Kleine Sinfonie, Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements and Korngold’s Adventures of Robin Hood Suite at Cadogan Hall on 2 May.

From Hollywood to New York
Saturday 2 May 2015, 7.30pm
Cadogan Hall, London
Tickets from £12 (concessions available)
£5 tickets available for students and 16-25s (pre-register at www.cls.co.uk/cls-fiver) Cadogan Hall Box Office / 020 7730 4500

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PLAN YOUR EVENT NIGHT – CLOSER: ÉMIGRÉ – LJOVA

We’re really excited to be joined by composer and violist Ljova for our next CLoSer concert, Émigré – Ljova, at Village Underground on 29 April. Whether you’re new to the CLoSer concerts, a CLoSer veteran, or preparing to settle in and watch the concert on live-stream (visit our website for more details), we have put together a few things you might like to know. Don’t forget you can still get your hands on some tickets from Spitalfields Music Box Office, or by calling 020 7377 1362.

About the event

This CLoSer concert is the next in our Émigré series, celebrating the music of composers who left their homes for a brighter future abroad. Ljova and his family left Moscow in 1990 to start a new life in New York City, where he has remained since, and has created his own unique sound that is a haunting and seamless mix of classical, Russian folk, jazz, Balkan Gypsy, and Klezmer music. Ljova and City of London Sinfonia will be performing a mixture of new works, alongside pieces from his recent albums, including the beautiful Melting River.

Continue reading PLAN YOUR EVENT NIGHT – CLOSER: ÉMIGRÉ – LJOVA

ÉMIGRÉ STORIES: Vladimir Naumov

In the weeks around our ÉMIGRÉ concert series, we’ve been collecting stories on the theme. While our concerts explore the journeys composers and musicians have made across the world, this blog series, ÉMIGRÉ STORIES, focuses on the journeys made by the individuals that join together to make City of London Sinfonia. 

Our fourth émigré is violinist Vladimir Naumov, who has been playing regularly with CLS for almost 15 years! Moving to the UK from Russia as a teen to fulfil his ambition to study at the Royal College of Music, he talks about the difficulties of integrating into an entirely new city and the transition to calling Britain ‘home’. 

 

I came over to Britain from my native Russia in September 1994, aged 19. Initially, my goal was to study for a year at the Royal College of Music as a postgraduate student, with a possibility of extending it by another year. It has to be said that this was not an official exchange scheme, and I therefore did not have any financial backing by the Russian (or British) authorities. All I had was a 50% “discount” kindly offered to me by the RCM towards my tuition fees, the rest I had to raise myself which I eventually somehow succeeded in doing. In other words, I arrived in London completely penniless, with hardly any knowledge of the English language, no friends to turn to and virtually nothing to show for it but sheer enthusiasm. I guess, this is a typical story of an émigré in a big foreign city.

Continue reading ÉMIGRÉ STORIES: Vladimir Naumov

Interview with Michael Petrov

Ahead of our upcoming concert, From Hollywood to New York on 2 May, we caught up with YCAT artist, Michael Petrov before his performance of Dvořák’s iconic Cello Concerto in B minor. Talking about his journey to the UK from his native Bulgaria, he reflects on the reasoning behind choosing the cello as an instrument and most treasured moments in his career. 

We understand that you were born and brought up in Bulgaria – what brought you to the UK?

It was music that really brought me to the UK. Having been born in Bulgaria, I first came to England when I was 10 for a year to study at the specialist music school, Purcell School. Although the teaching was fantastic, I felt too young to be in a different country and was alienated by the culture so quite quickly moved back to Bulgaria. Then, at the age of 15, I went to study at the Yehudi Menuhin school under Thomas Carroll. It was Thomas who actually arranged the whole thing: we met at a masterclass in Bulgaria and he told me about the school.

Continue reading Interview with Michael Petrov

Composer Journeys – From Hollywood to New York

Emigration has been a constant theme for musicians throughout history, with composers moving between countries and continents for a wide range of reasons. In our current concert series, we explore the journeys émigré composers have made through their musical output, whose sounds and atmospheres often reflect and have become associated with their life travels. As part of our blog series, Composer Journeys, and in the weeks and months around our exciting ÉMIGRÉ concert series, we’ve been mapping out the journeys the émigré composers have made. For our third concert of the series, From Hollywood to New York on Saturday 2 May 2015, we explore the work of the many European composers who sought fame, fortune, or refuge in the USA at the end of the 19th and first half of the 20th century. Continue reading Composer Journeys – From Hollywood to New York

Love and longing in Dvorák’s Cello Concerto

In advance of our upcoming concert on 2 May, From Hollywood to New York, at Cadogan Hall, we’ve taken a closer look at Dvořák’s ever-popular Cello Concerto, which we perform alongside the fantastic YCAT artist, Michael Petrov.

DVORAK homesick longing

Dvořák wrote his Cello Concerto during his three-year residency in America. Bittersweet and melancholic, the work is infused with his homesick longing for his Czech homeland just like his New World symphony.

Dvorak an expression of love

Continue reading Love and longing in Dvorák’s Cello Concerto

ÉMIGRÉ STORIES: Sarah Barnes

In the weeks around our ÉMIGRÉ concert series, we’ve been collecting stories on the theme. While our concerts explore the journeys composers and musicians have made across the world, this blog series, ÉMIGRÉ STORIES, focuses on the journeys made by the individuals that together make City of London Sinfonia. 

Our third émigré is violinist Sarah Barnes, a regular and much-loved player with the orchestra. She talks about her family’s emigration from Russia in the early twentieth century, and story of her Jewish grandmother, whose memoirs ‘Growing up in Shoreditch’ reveal much about the musical culture, traditions and life of East End, so populated by many other kindred émigrés.

My Jewish great-grandparents’ emigration from Eastern Europe in the early twentieth century

Children of Jewish emigrants from Eastern Europe, my paternal grandparents grew up in the East End of London.  My grandfather’s parents emigrated from Romania and my grandmother’s parents from Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century. It seems they all moved here separately and met their spouses after joining the growing Jewish émigré community in the East End. Jews from Eastern Europe moved to England and America in increasingly large numbers during this period. Pogroms (attacks on Jewish people) had been occurring across the Russian Empire and discriminatory laws meant that there were few livelihoods open to them.

Continue reading ÉMIGRÉ STORIES: Sarah Barnes

Ljova: things you should know

Who is Ljova and what is his sound? Before our upcoming concert with the Russian-born, New York composer, Ljova, we’ve put together a short infographic on the things you should know about this fantastic musician. Just scroll down to find out more about his music, life and career, and listen to a few of the pieces he’ll be performing alongside the orchestra on 29 April!

Ljova infographic

#LjovaTakeover

We’re excited that Ljova will be taking over our Twitter handle @CityLdnSinfonia next week! Play the interviewer by connecting with us on Twitter and find out more about his life, background and unique sound that blends classical music with Klezmer, Balkan Gypsy and jazz!

 

CLOSER: Émigré – Ljova 
Wednesday 29 April 2015, 7:30pm
Village Underground, Shoreditch
Tickets £15 or £5 for students (pre-register at www.cls.co.uk/cls-fiver) available from Spitalfields Music Box Office or via phone on 020 7377 1362.

Emigre stories: Katie Heller

In the weeks around our ÉMIGRÉ concert series, we’ve been collecting stories on the theme, being a subject very close to the hearts of countless families across Britain. While our concerts explore the journeys composers and musicians have made across the world, this blog series, ÉMIGRÉ STORIES, focuses on the journeys made by the individuals that join together to make City of London Sinfonia. 

Our second émigré is our long-term member, viola-player and the generally fantastic Katie Heller, whose Jewish father escaped Czechoslovakia on one of the last trains from Prague as Hitler’s titan rule began to take effect. 

One of my earliest childhood memories is of dancing around our small hall with Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances blaring out of the record player. Many evenings my sister and I would dance, and often my father would improvise on the old upright piano. I love the energy of this lively music, and the uplifting effect it had on me. At this stage, I knew nothing of its origins, or why it made my dad both happy and sad.

I began to play the violin at the age of nine, and still have a book of handwritten Czech pieces, lovingly notated for me. These were so much more fun with their syncopations and accents than many of my dreary English pieces!

Continue reading Emigre stories: Katie Heller

The challenges and gains of presenting an established New York-based musician to an entirely new city

Combining classical music with his own unique blend of Balkan Gypsy, Russian folk, jazz and Klezmer, New York composer and musician Ljova joins the orchestra on 29 April to perform as part of our informal concert series, CLoSer.  Hailed by the New York Times as ‘dizzingly versatile… an eclectic with an ear for texture’, Ljova’s glittering reputation across the Atlantic has not yet reached London’s cultural scene, although there is no doubt that his unique sound will resonate with the hearts and ears of any music-lover. But how do you convince an audience to experience his music, when it is so hard to describe in words what it actually sounds like?! In our latest blog, our Chief Executive, Matthew Swann, explained a few of the challenges and gains of presenting this fantastic composer and musician to an entirely new city. 

 

There is always a risk when presenting any artist who’s (relatively) new to audiences, but particularly so in London – the main risk being that people won’t buy tickets!

Londoners are spoilt for cultural choice. We pride ourselves on our willingness to take risks on new artists, but the simple fact is that there is so much new music around us all the time that getting one particular artist or performance to stand out is very difficult. Why should I go see your amazing musician, when 20 other promoters are telling me about their amazing musician on the same night? Never mind that concurrent offerings in theatre, art, comedy, film, food, bars, dance, sewing classes, going home and watching telly with a bottle of wine and goodness knows what else are all competing for your attention.

Continue reading The challenges and gains of presenting an established New York-based musician to an entirely new city