Tag Archives: Polyphony

Retrospective: Georgian London

Last night marked the final performance of both our Émigré concert series and Spitalfields Music Summer Festival 2015 with our Georgian London concert at Shoreditch Church. Joined by our Principal Conductor, Stephen Layton, choir Polyphony and baritone Ashley Riches, it was a fantastic evening of music by some of classical music’s biggest names, Haydn and Mozart chief among them, who fled to London in the eighteenth century to seek fame and fortune. The whole performance was broadcast live via BBC Radio 3, so don’t forget you can hear it all again for free on BBC IPlayer!

We received some great feedback on the concert, some of which we’ve shared below, along with some of our favourite pics from the evening. But what did you think of the evening? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Either leave us a comment on this post or connect with us on Twitter: @CityLdnSinfonia, Instagram: @cityoflondonsinfonia or Facebook: /cityoflondonsinfonia. Continue reading Retrospective: Georgian London


Interview with Ashley Riches

Ahead of our upcoming concert, Georgian London on Tuesday 16 June, we caught up with baritone, Ashley Riches before he joins us to perform Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum at Shoreditch Church. He reflects on his spontaneous decision to become a musician, why Don Giovanni is his favourite piece of music and role to sing, and his long-standing admiration for Polyphony, who joins him and CLS for this exciting concert.


When did you know you wanted to become a musician, and what spurred you on?

Actually, there was never really a moment… I had a training contract with a law firm not far from Spitalfields, but decided to try a year at music college before settling down to a ‘proper job’! Somehow it went well enough that I decided to give it a go. I’m a little bit fatalistic about these things – singing is the sort of career that chooses you, to some degree.

Continue reading Interview with Ashley Riches

Composer Focus: Mozart

As we approach our annual performance of Mozart’s Requiem with Polyphony, we couldn’t resist doing a post about this beloved composer.  Composing from the age of five, and already engaged as a court musician in Salzburg by the time he was 17, Mozart was the epitome of the child prodigy. His death was famously untimely, and historians, musicologists and conspiracy theorists alike have all enjoyed speculating over its exact cause, with the most salacious (and, therefore, persistent) rumour that Mozart was poisoned by fellow composer, Salieri, popularised by Peter Schaffer’s 1979 play, Amadeus.

Name: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozartmozart photos

Born: 27 January 1756. Died: 5 December 1791 (aged 35)

Nationality: Austrian

Background: The son of Leopold Mozart, a minor composer and an experienced teacher, Wolfgang was the youngest of seven children, five of whom died in infancy. He watched his older sister, Maria Anna (nicknamed Nannerl) begin clavier lessons when she was seven and he was three. Having watched Wolfgang’s delight at picking out thirds on the keyboard, Leopold started to teach his son a few minuets, only to soon find that he could play them faultlessly. Wolfgang married Constanze Weber in 1782, having been rejected by her older sister, Aloysia. He was also a member of the Masonic order, and scholars such as Katherine Thompson have explored the influences of this association in his work. Examples include the dotted figure, below, which appears in the overture of The Magic Flute and allegedly symbolises the Masonic initiation ceremony, in which the candidate knocks three times at the door to ask for admittance.

masonic mozart

Breakthrough: As children, both Mozart and Nannerl performed with their family as prodigies, travelling extensively throughout Europe. Mozart heard Allegri’s Miserere performed twice in Rome, and wrote it out by ear, thus producing the first unauthorised copy of the piece, which was jealously guarded by the Vatican. After returning with his father from Italy on 13 March 1773, Mozart was employed as a court musician by the ruler of Salzburg, Prince-Archbishop Hieronymus Colloredo.  During this time, Mozart acquired a number of admirers and began to compose extensively across genres, including symphonies, sonatas, string quartets, masses, and operas. However, dissatisfied with the lack of opportunity to compose opera, and the low pay of 150 florins a year, Mozart left his position, eventually settling in Vienna.

Requiem: Mozart’s unfinished Requiem was completed by Franz Xaver Süssmayr and was commissioned anonymously by Count Franz von Walsegg to commemorate his wife’s death. It is believed that Walsegg intended to pass the work off as his own, as he has been known to do. The flurry of myths about Mozart’s death, and his “instructions” on how to complete his Requiem, arguably stem from the actions of his wife, Constanze, who tried to attach as much Mozart-authenticity to the finished Requiem as possible.

Not enough Mozart for you?

Check out the trailer for Amadeus, the 1984 period drama based on the play by Schaffer. We can’t guarantee historical accuracy, but it’s a great film that was nominated for eight Academy Awards.

Visit our November 2012 blog posts for our Mozart Diaries series, and check out our website for a playlist featuring the Requiem, along with other pieces to be performed next Wednesday!

Our Mozart Requiem with Polyphony will be performed at St John Smith’s Square on Wednesday 13 November at 7.30. More information about the concert, and how to book tickets, is available on our website.

Our next London Season launches

Our next London season is fast approaching and we’ve got a jammed packed programme which sees the return of favourites CLoSer and Crash Bang Wallop!, alongside our Hot Tunes Cold War concert series beginning in September as well performances of perennial favourites: Mozart’s Requiem and Handel’s Messiah. As always we’ve got a fantastic array of guest artists lined up too including: jazz pianist Gwilym Simcock, baritone Roderick Williams, soprano Elin Manahan Thomas and singer/songwriter Mara Carlyle.

Find out where you can see us and what’s on in our new online brochure:

online London Season brochure
online London Season brochure

New Online Brochure

Our new London concerts brochure which lists all City of London Sinfonia concerts from September 2012 to February 2013 is now ready.

Highlights for the next sixth months include a return to Village Underground in Shoreditch for a second CLoSer series, a programme of Stravinsky and John Adams with our Principal Conductor Michael Collins taking centre stage at Cadogan Hall, and a reunion with Polyphony for a performance of Mozart’s Requiem at St John’s Smith Square, conducted by our Artistic Director Stephen Layton.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming concerts!