Category Archives: RE:Imagine

Venice: Darkness to Light

Our RE:Imagine season continues this Wednesday with Venice: Darkness to Light at Southwark Cathedral. We’ve put together this playlist as a little guide to the re-imagined sounds of the concert along with the pieces that inspired them.

Following the journey of the concert, first off, we have Bach’s take on two of Italy’s finest 18th Century composers: the first movement of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, and Bach’s version of it as the cantata Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden; and the first movement of Vivaldi’s violin concerto from L’estro Armonico that Bach re-imagined as a keyboard concerto.

Sticking with Bach, we have the movements from Bach’s Mass in B Minor that Ugis Praulins has re-imagined (you’ll have to come to the concert if you want to hear what Ugis has done with it!). Following the Bach, are John Adams’ orchestral re-imaginings of Liszt’s The Black Gondola and Busoni’s Berceuse Elegiaque, and their piano version originals.

The most intriguing of the re-imaginings, however, is the overture to Stravinsky’s Pulcinella. Stravinsky based his piece on music by Pergolesi… except that it wasn’t by Pergolesi at all. Most of it was by a little known Venetian composer by the name of Domenico Gallo, who was little known because his publishers passed off most of his music as being by Pergolesi, because that way they knew it would sell more copies! Gallo is restored to his rightful place here, next to Stravinsky’s re-imagining.

spotify:user:cityoflondonsinfonia:playlist:4MBlS8ad60WwDc88Grbxn3

Venice: Darkness to Light
Wednesday 14 October 2015, 7.30pm
Southwark Cathedral, London
Tickets £25, £15, £5* (*restricted view)
£5 tickets available for students and 16-25s (pre-register at www.cls.co.uk/cls-fiver) Box Office / 020 7377 1362

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Interview with Amelia Singer

Ahead of our concert and wine tasting next week, we sat down with founder of Amelia’s Wine, Amelia Singer to explore the fascinating world of music and wine…

What drew you towards wine, and how did you get started in the business?

Wine has always been part of my life. I was practically weaned on it by my father! I have always loved cooking and finding the flavours in food, so it was a very natural fit.

I studied acting at university, but I was very involved with the food and wine society, which I absolutely loved. There are so few young women in the wine industry, I decided I would use my acting training to become the Jamie Oliver of wine! So, I spent the next six years working in wineries all over the world, learning all I could about wine and the business, and two years ago I started Amelia’s Wine.

blog wine

Can you tell us a bit about Italian wine?

I adore north east Italy, so preparing the wines for this tasting has been great. One of my favourite wines, which I first remember enjoying with my father, is a classic Amarone. It’s an elegant, robust and reflective red, with dried fruit, chocolate, and smoky flavours. It’s a great wine to savour as it has so many layers; there’s a lot going on, so you can keep going back to it. When it comes to bubbles, rather than a Prosecco, I love a Franciacorta which is also from the region, and is aged longer than Champagne.

How did you go about pairing the wines with the music?

I always go straight to the music and the context and ethos of the programme, and in this case the themes of recreating and re-imagining; playing with the imagination and perceptions and expectations, creating a new way of tasting what you think you know well. I knew the area to focus on, and that I wanted to reflect the idea of darkness to light in the colour spectrum of the wine. I’ve chosen a wine that combines the best of Italy and Germany to complement the Bach in the programme, a bubbly but more serious wine to bring out the Commedia dell’arte themes of Pulcinella, and an elegant, multi-faceted red inspired by Liszt’s The Black Gondola.

What can we expect from the evening?

Something that’s interactive, fun, social, and friendly, with lively, diverse, curious people. You’ll learn something, and hopefully feel confident and empowered, and see the pieces of music and the wine in a new light. I’m really excited about holding the tasting in the intimate space at Bedales.

And finally, what music are you listening to at the moment?

It’s been a very hectic week, so during the days it’s something upbeat. In the evenings I’ve been chilling out to some Jazz with Gregory Porter and Claire Teal.

Tickets for this special wine tasting event at Bedales Wines are limited, so book soon!

Venice: Darkness to Light
Wednesday 14 October 2015, 7.30pm
Southwark Cathedral, London
Tickets £25, £15, £5* (*restricted view)
£5 tickets available for students and 16-25s (pre-register at www.cls.co.uk/cls-fiver) Box Office / 020 7377 1362

RE:IMAGINE – PULCINELLA

With our next RE:Imagine concert which explores the music of Venice just round the corner, we decided to take a look below the surface of this fascinating and beguiling city. We start with the piece that closes our concert, Stravinsky’s re-imagining of Pergolesi’s comedy Pulcinella…

Ballets Russes

In 1919, the great ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev commissioned Stravinsky to create a new work based on music which was believed to be by Pergolesi (it has since transpired that most of it was written by other composers, but published under Pergolesi’s name to sell more copies), including the music for the popular Neapolitan Commedia dell’arte story of Pulcinella, a lecherous, hook-nosed man, always out to deceive others. Stravinsky was at first reluctant to accept the commission having, only seven years before, provoked audiences into riots with his ballet The Rite of Spring, and feeling that this commission was a step away from his more experimental style. However, after studying the scores, Stravinsky found himself drawn to the music and set about rewriting it in his own style, keeping the original melodies, but adding new, modern rhythms and harmonies. Pulcinella opened to great acclaim in 1920 with sets and costumes designed by Pablo Picasso, and it also proved a turning point for Stravinsky, heralding his neo-classical phase, in which he took inspiration from works of the past. He described Pulcinella as “the epiphany through which the whole of my late work became possible”.

Costumes by Pablo Picasso from the 1920 production of Pulcinella
Costumes by Pablo Picasso from the 1920 production of Pulcinella.

Commedia dell’arte

The original story of Pulcinella dates back to the practice of Commedia dell’arte in early 18th century Naples, where Pulcinella represented a poor Neapolitan worker. The Commedia dell’arte actors would dress in stylised costumes and masks and perform highly exaggerated characters in partially improvised scenarios based on current events and scandals; these very ornamented caricatures are thought to have been based on the masks and costumes worn during the Venice carnival. Pulcinella wears a dark mask with a hooked, beak-like nose, speaks in squawks, and is always looking to deceive those around him; which inspired his full name, Pulcinella Cetrulo, meaning ‘stupid little chicken’. He is also frequently seen carrying a stick which he uses on other characters, being beaten by the characters around him, and generally getting up to no good.

Pulcinella

Pulcinella has found himself taking on various forms all over Europe. Stravinsky, as well as his ballet Pulcinella, based his ballet Petrushka on Pulcinella’s Russian counterpart; and it is not hard to see the parallels between this hook-nosed, stick-wielding troublemaker and childhood seaside favourite Mr Punch.

© Jonathan Lucas 2011
© Jonathan Lucas 2011

Stravinsky’s ballet tells the story of Pulcinella and his friends as they chase after women without much success and stage an elaborate ploy to get Pulcinella’s girlfriend Pimpinella to forgive his indiscretions. Their ploy works, and Pulcinella and Pimpinella are reunited, while Pulcinella’s friends finally marry their sweethearts.

Join us at Southwark Cathedral on 14 October and re-imagine the music of Venice, and why not also come along to our wine tasting event with the founder of Amelia’s Wine, Amelia Singer, who has crafted a very special tasting session inspired by the evening’s programme.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Venice: Darkness to Light
Wednesday 14 October 2015, 7.30pm
Southwark Cathedral, London
Tickets £25, £15, £5* (*restricted view)
£5 tickets available for students and 16-25s (pre-register at www.cls.co.uk/cls-fiver) Box Office / 020 7377 1362

BACH RE:IMAGINED – UGIS PRAULINS

Bach RE:Imagined is a thread which ties together our new season of concerts. We’re incredibly proud to continue the tradition of re-imagining great works and we have commissioned seven wonderful composers to re-arrange the works of JS Bach. At our CLoSer concert on 22 September we heard our wonderful principal conductor, Michael Collins’ clarinet transcription of Bach’s Cello Suite in D Minor. On 14 October, we present Ugis Praulins’ Bach re-imagining at Southwark Cathedral during Venice: Darkness to Light, and so we’ve put together a little guide to this marvellous Latvian composer…

Ugis Praulins

We’ve put together a short playlist of Praulins’ work to give you an idea of his unique sound:

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Join us for an exciting concert of the music of Venice. We bring the atmosphere of this breathtaking city to the banks of the Thames, with music by Vivaldi, Liszt, Stravinsky and more, including a performance of Pergolesi’s dark and mournful Stabat Mater with Elin Manahan Thomas.

We hope to see you soon!

Venice: Darkness to Light
Wednesday 14 October 2015, 7.30pm
Southwark Cathedral, London
Tickets £25, £15, £5* (*restricted view)
£5 tickets available for students and 16-25s (pre-register at www.cls.co.uk/cls-fiver) Box Office / 020 7377 1362

RETROSPECTIVE – CLOSER: DEBUSSY, COPLAND AND DANCE

After weeks of excitement, our RE:Imagine series opened on Tuesday night with CLoSer: Debussy, Copland and Dance at Village Underground. We were joined by the exceptionally talented dancers Katie Neal and Dani Harris-Walters who performed new choreography by Tony Adigun to Debussy’s Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune.

Here are some beautiful photos from the concert by the wonderful James Berry, along with some of our highlights from the evening and lovely audience feedback we received.

Don’t forget, you can watch highlights from the concert on our Youtube channel until 30 September.

The next concert in our RE:Imagine series is Venice: Darkness to Light at Southwark Cathedral on 14 October, when we will be exploring the music of this beautiful city through works by Bach, Vivaldi, Liszt, Stravinsky and more. We’re especially excited to be joined by CLS favourite Elin Manahan Thomas in Bach’s take on Pergolesi’s dark and mournful Stabat Mater. We hope to see you there!

Venice: Darkness to Light
Wednesday 14 October 2015, 7.30pm
Southwark Cathedral, London
Tickets £25, £15, £5* (*restricted view)
£5 tickets available for students and 16-25s (pre-register at www.cls.co.uk/cls-fiver) Box Office / 020 7377 1362

DEBUSSY AND L’APRES-MIDI D’UN FAUNE

We can’t wait for the beginning of our new RE:Imagine series with CLoSer: Debussy, Copland and Dance on 22 September, which celebrates music written for dance with works by Bach, Debussy, Rameau and Copland. Our blog series exploring the stories behind the music has looked at Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Rameau’s Pygmalion. It now concludes with Debussy’s stunning Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune…

Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

CLOSER: Debussy, Copland and Dance
Tuesday 22 September 2015, 7:30pm
Village Underground, Shoreditch
Tickets £15 or £5 for students and 16-25s (pre-register at www.cls.co.uk/cls-fiver) available from Spitalfields Music Box Officeor via phone on 020 7377 1362.

BEHIND THE SCENES – CLOSER: DEBUSSY, COPLAND AND DANCE

The first CLoSer concert of our RE:Imagine series celebrates music written for dance, from Bach to Debussy and Copland. But what about the dancers? In this blog we explore the famous names behind the famous works…

Martha Graham

Martha Graham is often called the “Mother of Modern Dance”. Born in 1894 in what is now Pittsburgh, she was the daughter of a doctor who believed that movement could benefit those suffering with nervous conditions. Despite this, her deeply religious parents forbade the young Graham to learn to dance, and it wasn’t until her father died that she finally began her formal dance training.

Martha_Graham_1948
Martha Graham in 1948

Graham’s style was known for its violent and jarring movements, and alteration between tension and relaxation which represented a huge shift from the traditional styles which until that point had dominated. Here is Graham presenting her 1930 piece Lamentation, a physical exploration of grief.

Graham’s and Aaron Copland’s collaboration in the early 1940s on Appalachian Spring has produced one of the most iconic American works of the 20th century, distilling into a story of the pioneers the spirit of America’s hope, optimism and aspiration.

Vaslav Nijinsky

Nijinsky was born in Kiev in 1890, the second son of two touring dancers. Unlike Martha Graham, Nijinsky began his dance education very young, performing professionally by the age of seven.

Vaslav Nijinsky in 1909
Vaslav Nijinsky in 1909

When he was 10, Nijinsky joined the Russian Imperial Ballet School, where his exceptional talent, particularly for spectacular leaps, was soon noted. It was this talent that prevented him from being expelled from the school when his academic performance didn’t match his dancing. By the time he graduated, Nijinsky’s prowess was well known, and he secured a position first with the Mariinsky Theatre, and later guest appearances at the Bolshoi Theatre.

In 1912, Nijinsky began choreographing for the Ballet Russes, for whom he created his interpretation of L’apres midi d’un faune shown above, and garnered a reputation for his outlandish and controversial style. Indeed, his choreography for Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring was more than partly responsible for the riots that broke out following its Paris premiere.

Come along to our next CLoSer event on 22 September and see two new urban and contemporary dance interpretations of L’apres midi d’un faune, with choreography by Tony Adigun.

CLOSER: Debussy, Copland and Dance
Tuesday 22 September 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.

RAMEAU AND PYGMALION

The first CLoSer event of our new RE:Imagine series is almost upon us. CLoSer: Debussy, Copland and Dance on 22 September celebrates music written for dance with works by Bach, Debussy, Rameau and Copland. In this short blog series, we’ll be exploring the stories behind the music. We started with Aaron Copland’s majestic Appalachian Spring, and now it’s the turn of Rameau’s Pygmalion…

Pygmalion

CLOSER: Debussy, Copland and Dance
Tuesday 22 September 2015, 7:30pm
Village Underground, Shoreditch
Tickets £15 or £5 for students and 16-25s (pre-register at www.cls.co.uk/cls-fiver) available from Spitalfields Music Box Office or via phone on 020 7377 1362.

Copland and Appalachian Spring

The first CLoSer event of our new RE:Imagine series is almost upon us. CLoSer: Debussy, Copland and Dance on 22 September celebrates music written for dance with works by Bach, Debussy, Rameau and Copland. In this short blog series, we’ll be exploring the stories behind the music. First up is Aaron Copland’s majestic Appalachian Spring…

Aaron Copland

CLOSER: Debussy, Copland and Dance
Tuesday 22 September 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.

Good artists borrow, great artists steal…

Earlier this week we announced our 2015-16 season, RE:Imagine featuring re-imagined works, musical experiences and new interpretations. In light of the big announcement and as a preview to the exciting range of events we have coming up this year, our Chief Executive Matthew Swann shared his thoughts on what audiences can expect from the series and what inspired him to programme this range of repertoire.

To quote Picasso, good artists borrow, great artists steal (although, with delicious irony, it’s likely that Picasso stole that memorable phrase from someone else…).

Musicians and artists have re-appropriated both their own material and that of others throughout history. Sometimes shamelessly, sometimes in tribute, sometimes as the creative spark that fuels their own imagination. It is a wealthy seam to mine, and RE:Imagine presents any number of musical diamonds fashioned from someone else’s base material. Continue reading Good artists borrow, great artists steal…