Tag Archives: Mendelssohn

CLS Earworms

Here in the CLS office, there is always at least one person humming or singing a musical phrase on an endless loop, whether it’s the office phone ring tone (we’ve recently changed it one called ‘jazzy night’ and it’s lethal…) or a piece we performed in a recent project / concert.

In this blog post we’ve collected some of these brain-melting melodies that go round and round our minds on a daily basis… You may need this ‘cure for earworms’ after you’ve finished reading!

Continue reading CLS Earworms


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

Midsummer in Autumn! A Preview…

To kick start our celebration of the Bard’s 450th anniversary, we’re doing a very exciting (and unusual!) performance of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Southwark Cathedral this Wednesday.  Working with two highly experienced and well-known British actors (Richard Hope and Emma Pallant) along with Director Max Webster, the evening will give audiences a deeper understanding of how the music was originally conceived, and bring the pieces to fresh dramatic life.

To wet your palette for this exciting performance, we thought we’d give you a quick preview of Mendelssohn’s musical adaptation of the Midsummer play.

  1. Mendelssohn composed the Overture for A Midsummer Night’s Dream when he was only 17 years old!


Mendelssohn was aged 17 years and 6 months when he was inspired to write the Overture. A child prodigy on the piano, he had been performing in public since the age of nine, and was active as a composer ever since he was 12. Legend has it that he even left the first score of it in a cab, but was able to rewrite every note from memory!  At such a ripe age, that is pretty impressive. The rest of the work as we know it today was composed in 1842 (16 years later) after he received a commission from the King of Prussia to write music to accompany a staging of Shakespeare’s play at his Royal Theatre in Leipzig.


  1. The piece held such importance to him that he travelled over 80 miles through a snowstorm to attend the first performance!


Despite a ferocious snow storm outside, Mendelssohn still managed to travel to the Overture’s first performance of it in 1827; apt proof of how much it meant to him! According to his sister Fanny, “We were entwined with A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Felix particularly made it his own. He identified with all of the characters. He recreated them, so to speak, every one of them whom Shakespeare produced in the immensity of his genius”.


  1. Mendelssohn was, in effect, writing as a film composer in this piece


If Mendelssohn was alive today, he would be best buds with John Williams and James Horner, being a film music pro even before the film medium was invented! Much like music for the movies, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was designed to enhance the emotional impact of the action onstage, often shimmering under spoken narrative, and contains some of Mendelssohn’s best-known music, not least the Wedding March.


  1. The music often represents many of the characters in Shakespeare’s play, including Bottom!


Mendelssohn used certain instruments to portray and symbolize different characters in the place. The high woodwinds, for example, represent the fairies, and the strings even offer their own ‘hee-haws’, in the manner of Bottom the donkey!



Tickets are still available to hear A Midsummer Night’s Dream this Wednesday! BOOK NOW

midsummer ebulletin size

Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
with City of London Sinfonia and Holst Singers
Wednesday 8 October, 7.30pm
Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge
Tickets, £25, £15, £5 available fromspitalfieldsmusic.org.uk / 020 7377 1362

(Free pre-concert talk from 18:30 in the retrochoir. Book tickets for the pre-concert talk here)

An Interview with Richard Hope

This week the team at CLS got the chance to catch up with actor Richard Hope before he joins us this Wednesday, along with Emma Pallant, for a very exciting performance of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Southwark Cathedral. Aside his extremely impressive resumé, we loved his enthusiasm for music, subtle humour and thoughts on cake (always a very important subject!). Check out the interview here:


What first made you want to become an actor?richard hope

At school someone bet me £5 that I couldn’t get into the National Youth Theatre and at the interview, having done my speeches, Michael Croft asked me that very question. I told him I would win £5 (worth about £100 now) and he said: “You’re in!” I was with them for five years and doing drama was a great way to meet girls. I have always respected the written word and how hard it is to bring it alive from the page. To be able to share that and enjoy it has stayed with me. My first TV job was with Sir Laurence Olivier who encouraged my work and my recounting of appalling jokes.


What has your favourite role been?

For stage maybe Levin in Anna Karenina which toured the world for years with many revivals . Helen Edmundson has an amazing ability as a writer to distil the essence of the story . I also did War and Peace playing Pierre at the National which ran for four and a half hours….. and we did matinees twice a week. For TV it has to be Morty in The Riff Raff Element written by Debbie Horsfield who has just adapted the new BBC series of Poldark…. or playing Ford Prefect in HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy with Ken Campbell directing (and encouraging me to be dangerously mad as I struggled to fly in space in a harness above the audience!). Recently I really enjoyed playing Elizabeth 1 in the UK premiere of Orlando….. I had the wig and dress with fairylights.


Are you musical? / Do you play any instruments?

I was always told at school I couldn’t sing and sort of gave up. I had to do songs in shows and then found myself doing Max Kellerman in Dirty Dancing at the Aldwych. I love music and admire the precision of dancers and musicians. I play the triangle and I have mimed with a harmonica on film.

What is the most played piece on your iPod?

It Keeps Rainin’ by Fats Domino closely followed by We Can’t be Friends by Lorene Scafaria. This week listening to Tower of Song by Leonard Cohen.


What living person do you admire most of all?

My kids. Namely, having to pick them up in the rain after surviving the Reading Festival and their tent catching fire.


What is your favourite cake?

Dundee Cake as it reminds me of Christmas and sometimes has a dash of Guinness.


Tickets are still available to see Richard Hope narrate alongside City of London Sinfonia at Southwark Cathedral this Wednesday! BOOK NOW

midsummer ebulletin size

Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
with City of London Sinfonia and Holst Singers
Wednesday 8 October, 7.30pm
Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge
Tickets, £25, £15, £5 available from spitalfieldsmusic.org.uk / 020 7377 1362

(Free pre-concert talk from 18:30 in the retrochoir. Book tickets for the pre-concert talk here)


Shakespeare: Let Music Sound – Booking Now Open!

We’ve recently opened booking for our next London concert series, Shakespeare: Let Music Sound in celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary.  From musicals to movie adaptations, opera, ballet, jazz rock ‘n’ roll, Disney songs, Broadway and Bollywood, Shakespeare’s poetry have inspired countless musicians and artists across the centuries. Performing in a selection of London’s most atmospheric venues from 8 October to 1 November, we’ll be embarking on an exciting journey through some of the most incredible works for film and theatre inspired by the Bard’s timeless tales.

To view our online brochure, click below or to view our Pinterest page inspired by the series, click here!