Tag Archives: Pergolesi

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


Elin Manahan Thomas on BBC In Tune

We loved listening to the wonderful Elin Manahan Thomas and Stephen Farr on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune yesterday evening, performing music from Bach’s re-imagining of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, and talking about our forthcoming RE:Imagine concert, Venice: Darkness to Light. You can listen again for 30 days on catch up (their interview and performances start at around 1:01:30).

And because we can never hear enough of Elin Manahan Thomas’ beautiful voice, we’ve put together a short playlist of some of our favourite recordings.


Join us on 14 October in the stunning Southwark Cathedral for a musical celebration of Venice, with Bach’s re-imagining of Pergolesi’s haunting Stabat Mater by Elin Manahan Thomas and Alex Potter.

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

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.


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


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 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