Tag Archives: CLS Behind the Scenes

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.

October 16, 2018_Reception-QEH_054bw
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

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CLoSer with Rachel Rose Reid

The next CLoSer concert of our RE:Imagine series is just around the corner on Wednesday 17 February. CLoSer: Song of the Earth features Mahler’s epic song of despair Das Lied von der Erde, which  was originally written for a vast orchestra. We perform the piece in a salon arrangement by Schoenberg, written for the Society for Private Musical Performances, which performed scaled-down versions of new music to interested Viennese citizens. (Read more about the twentieth century Viennese cultural landscape here). 

Das Lied von der Erde shows Mahler at his most turbulent and hopeless, reeling from three personal tragedies. We’re so pleased that storyteller Rachel Rose Reid will be on hand to navigate Mahler’s emotional turmoil with us in a specially-commissioned introduction to the piece.

We asked Rachel what we can expect from her story

“It will be lyrical prose which summons Gustav and Alma to us so we can comprehend a little of the context of the composition. Mahler wrote to a friend that he thought this might be his ‘most personal piece’.

“My work is to build a bridge between Mahler, writing this piece, and ourselves, listening to it over a hundred years later.

“Mahler is sitting in nature, where he always sat for inspiration, but not permitted to explore it. Inside a marriage but not at home in his marriage. Inside his society but not at home in society. His music is a place he can inhabit. Meanwhile, Alma struggles to fit in also, with social roles, with grief, with marriage. She struggles with Mahler’s music – in her diary she writes that there are just two pieces of his she really loves. And then she adds, in pencil ‘and the Song of the Earth’.”

Take a look at some of Rachel’s other work…

If you missed Rachel Rose Reid on The Verb earlier this month, celebrating national storytelling week, you can still catch up

Join us on Wednesday for CLoSer: Song of the Earth with storytelling introduction. Can’t make it? The event will be live-streamed on our YouTube channel.

CLoSer: Song of the Earth
Wednesday 17 February 2016, 7.30pm
Village Underground, 54 Holywell Lane, EC2A 3PQ
Tickets £15 (includes a free drink), £5 students / 16-25s
Box Office cls.co.uk / 020 7621 2800

It’s Party time!

It’s our last week in the office before the Christmas break, and we’re all feeling particularly festive. We’re off on our Christmas party this afternoon, and to get ourselves fully into the party spirit, we’ve put together this (longer than anticipated) playlist of some of our Christmas favourites. We hope you enjoy it!
spotify:user:cityoflondonsinfonia:playlist:0Y4zcDJzRO7BeurLhuuQTy

Wishing you all a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year from all of us at City of London Sinfonia!

Crash Bang Wallop! Frequently Asked Questions

With our next Crash Bang Wallop! concert just round the corner, we thought now would be a great time to answer some of your frequently asked questions about our special family concerts!

What age range are Crash Bang Wallop! concerts aimed at?

Crash Bang Wallop! events are most appropriate for children between the ages of 3 and 8 years old.

How long are the concerts?

Each concert lasts for one hour with no interval. There are always pre-concert creative activities for an hour beforehand too.

What should we wear?

Feel free to wear whatever you like, there is no dress code! For some of our concerts though, we encourage the children to come in fancy dress. Please look at the specific event page on our website to see if the event you’re attending has fancy dress.

Crash Bang Wallop.
Cadogan Hall, Saturday 31 October 2015. © James Berry

When should we arrive?

Our concerts start at 11am and we encourage audience members to get to Cadogan Hall within plenty of time to find their seats. We also offer pre-concert activities, starting at 10am.

Can we go in and out of the hall during the concert?

Yes, you may leave the hall if necessary during the concert, however, as this may disrupt others, we encourage our audience to remain in the concert hall for the full duration if possible.

Do we need to know anything about classical music to enjoy the concert?

Not at all! Crash Bang Wallop! concerts are all about introducing the orchestra in a fun and interesting way for all so no prior knowledge is necessary for children or adults.

ear worm featured pic

How can we find out about future Crash Bang Wallop! events?

Find out more about us and our upcoming events on our website. You can also sign up to our mailing list.

We can’t attend both the creative activities and the concert. Does this matter?

Not at all! Attending both is not compulsory!

I want to go to a Crash Bang Wallop! concert but live outside of London. Are there any opportunities to go to a concert outside of London?

At present, Crash Bang Wallop! is resident at Cadogan Hall in London. However, we run workshops and events for children in the Home Counties and East Anglia too. Sign up to our mailing list in order to find out priority information on these.

Crash Bang Wallop.
Cadogan Hall, Saturday 31 October 2015. © James Berry

After attending Crash Bang Wallop! my child wants to learn a musical instrument. Where can we find a reliable teacher?

The London music conservatories all have Junior departments and both Trinity College of Music and Guildhall School of Music & Drama have beginner string programmes which start at age 3- 5. For quality local teachers, contact your borough council or local authority music service. They can usually put you in touch with music teachers on their books or point you toward local Saturday music schools. Also most primary and secondary schools have some form of private or group music tuition delivered by peripatetic music teachers.

When is a good time for my child to start learning a musical instrument?

This depends on what instrument. Your child must be physically capable of holding and playing the instrument (many wind and brass instruments require a lot of lung power that young children do not yet have) and able to concentrate through the lesson and practice sessions. Some children start on the violin or piano when they are as young as 3 years old and later move on to another instrument. Many music teachers start accepting pupils at age 5, but it is often dependent on the individual child. Often brass and wind instruments aren’t taught until children are 10 or 11 years old.

Things we’ve been listening to this week…

Our sad songs post on Tuesday got us thinking about what music we’d been playing recently. It’s been a week of headphones in the office, as everyone’s busy preparing for our new RE:Imagine season. But what’ve we all been listening to? After a very quick and entirely unscientific survey, here is this week’s somewhat eclectic CLS playlist…

PL: I’ve been listening Stan Getz – The Bossa Nova Albums (trying to prolong a holiday feeling…!)

 

AL: I’ve had Tomasz Stańko Quartet’s ‘Song for Sarah’ on repeat this week. It’s beautifully melancholy, and takes me back to fantasies of sequined gowns and smoky jazz clubs.

 

ZH: Chicago-based rapper Mick Jenkins has a new album Wave[s] and it’s very good.

PM: This week I’ve been mostly listening to ‘I Get Along Without You Very Well’ by Chet Baker. It’s a jazz standard that I’d never heard before until the recent John Wilson Orchestra prom, where Seth MacFarlane sung in the style of Frank Sinatra at a packed out late night concert.

 

MS: This has been a week of ‘concentrating on papers and presentations’ music on headphones, so Palestrina, Bach, Electronica, and some good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. And of course the BBC Proms…

 

GHG: I haven’t been listening to much music lately, but with a fussy baby comes a lot of walking, so I’ve been doing lots of listening to podcasts to keep me entertained. These are a few of my favourites:

This American Life: A great podcast with a different theme each week and a variety of stories on that theme.

Scummy Mummies: A comedy podcast on parenthood, co-hosted by a good friend of mine

The Moth Podcast: Storytelling podcast with fantastic real life stories

Serial/Undisclosed: I loved the popular Serial podcast about the case of Adnan Syed so much that I’ve been listening to a follow-on podcast called Undisclosed which is following the story as it continues to unfold

OHP Behind the Scenes: Concert Management

With only a few final performances to go, Opera Holland Park is nearly over for another year and so our Concert Management team must move on to new (probably indoor and peacock-lacking) endeavours. But what exactly did they see and do during their time there?

As part of our OHP Behind the Scenes blog series, we thought we’d delve a little deeper into the kinds of things they got up to, and here’s the evidence:

 

Despite its resemblance to a tombola machine, this is in fact the wind machine for La Fanciulla del West. (We were asked at least twice per performance what it was!)

 

At the Amadeus Centre with conductor Steuart Bedford (no, the horn player at the back is not asleep, just stretching his legs!)

 

Glyn Matthews setting up the tubular bells ready for the performance of  Turn of the Screw

 

Watching a vertically-challenged Minute Maestro conduct the Orchestra at the Opera Holland Park Family Open Day.

 

Pumping up the harp trolley’s flat tyres. Luckily, most of our French Horn players are keen cyclists, and Chris Newport had a bike pump handy, making the job a lot easier.

 

Weekly trips to Tesco to buy tea-making ingredients and plenty of biscuits for hungry musicians…

 

Marking string bowings backstage!

 

Is it a tuba? A trombone? No, this is Stephen Wick playing a cimbasso in rehearsal ready for Bellini’s Norma!

 

Sharing is caring for CLS & OHP behind the scenes! One of the musicians brought in some aubergine plants – needless to say, they were taken up very quickly!

OHP Behind the Scenes – The Musicians

Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a musician at Opera Holland Park? As Orchestra-in-Residence for the 11th year this year, we thought we’d give our lovely readers a teeny insight into the ‘orchestral life’ at this fantastic outdoor summer opera festival. With biscuits, gun shots, evening chills and more, we caught up with one of our longstanding members, Mark Paine (Horn) who told us some of his favourite memories and moments of his experience during his time in the OHP pit over the years (just to clarify, by ‘pit’ we mean the orchestral variety – not a muddy hole in the ground).

 

(C) Fritz Curzon
(C) Fritz Curzon

How long have you been playing at Opera Holland Park?

I think this is my 11th season can you believe! Well, ever since CLS first started doing it.

 

And what’s been your favourite opera?

Of course, everyone will say this – it’s terribly difficult to say. But my most memorable, and therefore favourite, has got to be L’amore dei tre re which we did with Peter Robinson. Without interval, it was a continuous crescendo from beginning to end and I guarantee you nobody took a breath in the audience until the final gun shot which finished it. It was just amazing.

 

I hear biscuits are essential for any performance at Opera Holland Park. How many packets of biscuits do you think the Orchestra have  consumed so far this season?

Shopping trip for biscuits for OHP!
Shopping trip for biscuits for OHP!

 

Haha how many packets? Well, probably 3 per night, so according to my mathematical calculations… About 100?! (He’s not far off here – we get through a shocking amount of biscuits!)

 

What makes performing at OHP different to other opera houses or opera companies that you’ve worked with?

Oh, a million things. The peacocks, the sub-zero temperature… It really is very, very special. It’s a combination of so many things. Great music, great operas, interesting repertoire and such engaged producers as James Clutton and Sarah Crabtree. It’s a fantastic company and a unique experience which is why I make sure I come back every season.

 

(C) Fritz Curzon
(C) Fritz Curzon

Coming up at Opera Holland Park

Bellini Norma, 19 July – 8 August

Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur, 24 July – 9 August