Tag Archives: Debussy

Month in pictures – September and October

We’ve had two very busy months at CLS. Our RE:Imagine concert series got off to a flying start in September with CLoSer: Debussy, Copland and Dance at Village Underground, and continued at Southwark Cathedral with an atmospheric celebration of the music of one of the most romantic cities in the world, in Venice: Darkness to Light. But that’s not all we’ve been up to so far this autumn. Take a look at some of our highlights of the last two months…

CLoSer: Debussy, Copland and Dance saw us return to the intimate setting of Village Underground with a programme exploring music written for dance from Rameau’s 18th century take on the classical Pygmalion myth to Copland’s evocative Appalachian Spring. The concert opened and closed with two brand new dance interpretations of Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune by choreographer Tony Adigun, one contemporary classical, one urban. Photographer James Berry was on hand to capture the concert as it happened. Take a look at some of his stunning pictures…

Whether you missed the concert, or would just like to relive the evening, you can still watch short highlights on our website.

Our second RE:Imagine concert took us to the magnificent Southwark Cathedral to celebrate one of the world’s most wonderful cities, with Venice: Darkness to Light. Soprano Elin Manahan Thomas and countertenor Alex Potter joined us for JS Bach’s re-imagining of Pergolesi’s Stabat MaterTilge, Höchster, meine Sünden, and Latvian composer Ugis Praulins continued our theme of re-imagining the works of Bach, with his arrangement of movements from the Mass in B minor. Here are some lovely photos of rehearsals by James Berry.

On top of all that, it’s been very busy in the education department, as we returned to Suffolk and Essex for our annual Lullaby Concert tour and workshops with Orchestras Live. We also brought a Very Special Bear’s first concert to Warwick, Basingstoke and Saffron Walden with the help of the excellent Simon Callow, who was an absolute natural at conducting! Take a look behind the scenes to see us wrestling with balloons, and a lovely Paddington Bear card made by one of our younger audience members in Basingstoke!

Our RE:Imagine series continues in the new year with The Viennese Salon in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe, and our next Crash Bang Wallop! family concert will take place on 12 December. We hope to see you there!

Crash Bang Wallop! Let it Snow
Saturday 12 December 2015, 11.00am
Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London
Tickets: £8 Children, £10 Adults, £30 Family (four tickets)
Box Office: 020 7730 4500 / cadoganhall.com

The Viennese Salon
Sunday 24 January 2016, 2.00pm
Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe, London
Tickets: £62 (premium), £15 – 48, £10 (standing)
Box Office: 020 7401 9919 / shakespearesglobe.com



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.


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 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.

CLS Ten Pieces

The recent announcement of the BBC’s new list of Ten Pieces for secondary schools got us thinking about which pieces most inspired us to get into classical music at a young age. In this blog post and as a tribute to the project, each member of CLS staff shared the piece of music that stood out for them as a child, combining to make CLS’s own Ten Pieces! Is there any piece that particularly inspired you?

Find out more about the BBC Ten Pieces project here. City of London Sinfonia is a Ten Pieces champion, supporting the project and incorporating the pieces into our education programmes.   Continue reading CLS Ten Pieces

Composer Profile: Maurice Ravel

Our Poulenc mini festival celebrates the life and times of Francis Poulenc, but tomorrow, City of London Sinfonia will be giving a nod to another Frenchman. Maurice Ravel, Poulenc’s predecessor and one of France’s best loved composers, was one of the biggest Impressionists going. Ahead of our performance of Ravel’s Pavane at Southwark Cathedral, we consider the man behind the music.


“The only love affair I have ever had was with music.”
Maurice Ravel

Name: Joseph-Maurice Ravel

Birth and Death: Born in 1875 and died 1937 aged 62

Nationality: French

Background: Born near the town of Biarritz to a Spanish mother and a Swiss father, Ravel was raised in Paris where he was exposed to a great variety of composers, writers and thinkers. From an early age, Ravel was very much encouraged to pursue his musical talents and ended up at the Conservatoire de Paris, studying piano. Footloose and fancy free, and noted for his meticulous appearance, young Ravel was interested in good food, fine wines and socialising. After eventually being expelled from the conservatoire, Ravel continued his studies under the guidance of Gabriel Fauré, with whom he remained lifelong friends.

Around 1900, Ravel joined a group of progressive young artists, poets, critics and musicians who were referred to as the “Apaches” (hooligans). During his time with the group, Ravel wrote some of his first breakthrough pieces, including Jeux d’eau and the Pavane. Ravel reached the peak of his productivity during his 30s, composing many complex piano pieces that saw him develop a distinctive “impressionist” style. A commission from the Ballet Russes introduced Ravel to Stravinsky and during this time, Ravel composed his seminal Le tombeau de Couperin and orchestrated Musorgsky’s monumental Pictures at an Exhibition. The Boléro was also composed during this time and reflects the Spanish influence of Ravel’s mother, that can been seen throughout his body of work.

Ravel died in Paris, France, on December 28, 1937.

Breakthrough Moment: After taking Paris by storm the previous year, French ballet titan Diagalev commissioned Ravel to write a piece for his company, the Ballet Russes, in 1909. The compositional process was riddled with conflicts amongst its creators and Daphnis et Chloé took Ravel almost three years to complete. Although the ballet was panned at its premiere, receiving only two performances, it later went on to become the jewel in Ravel’s crown with Igor Stravinsky hailing the work as “one of the most beautiful products of all French music”.

Thursday 11 AprilSouthwark Cathedral

Poulenc Organ Concerto
Ravel Pavane
Poulenc Les Animaux Modeles
Poulenc Gloria