Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Month in Pictures – October and November!

This Autumn has been a jam-packed season for us at CLS, with our concert series, Shakespeare: Let Music Sound, and lots of education work, including our Lullaby concert tour and Youth Takeover project in association with Orchestras Live in Spalding (we recently worked out that the Orchestra spent an astonishing 86 days in the community this quarter!). In other news this season, we are delighted to have announced Dame Felicity Lott as our new Patron and were thrilled to have her perform two private recitals for CLS Friends at Blain|Southern, preceding her involvement with our outreach projects in Tower Hamlets and Harrow during the next coming weeks. For some of our favourite moments from the time so far, just scroll down!


Our Autumn concert series, Shakespeare: Let Music Sound, celebrated Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary through a variety of concerts weaving together play text, live acting and music inspired by the Bard himself. Some of our favourite snaps from the season can be found below, including pre-concert naps, the watchful eye of the Bard himself and the remains of our  librarian’s (slightly hectic!) preparations for our performance of Shostakovich’s Hamlet at Village Underground. To find out more about our next concert seasons, Émigré visit our website.


A highlight of our Autumn programme was Last Train to Tomorrow, a performance to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Kindertransport, presented by our friends at the Association of Jewish Refugees at the Roundhouse. A number of the Kinder (the name given to the survivors of the Kindertransport) were in attendance at the concert, as was HRH The Prince of Wales, who has long championed their cause. The audience consisted of the Kinder’s own children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and other supporters.


On 12 November we hosted an exclusive CLS Friends event at Blain|Southern art gallery with CLS leader, Alexandra Wood, Principal Conductor and clarinettist Michael Collins and Dame Felicity Lott. As her first public performance with us as CLS Patron, Felicity was on brilliant form and we hope those of you who joined us enjoyed the evening! Alongside some comedic arias and repertoire by Spohr, the headline piece was Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock, a piece that Michael and Felicity first performed together 30 years ago!


As part of our longstanding partnership with Orchestras Live, our education team were in Spalding last month working alongside Youth Takeover, a group of young producers resident at South Holland Centre to present a concert based on a unique concept. Working with CLS musicians and composer John K Miles, local young musicians and bands curated a concert calledLifetime – redefining the concert experience’. It was fantastic project to be involved in, and the culminatory concert on 26 November was brilliant. A huge well done to all involved!


Our education team have been all around the country this term, with our Lullaby concert tour to Suffolk in October, workshops with Freshwater’s Academy,  and lunchtime concerts at St Thomas’ hospital, London. As you can see, some of the props went slightly crazy at times, and even made their way into the office!



Sir William Walton and Sir Laurence Olivier

Considering his vast success in the genre, it is often surprising to think that Sir William Walton initially approached film music with grumbles about cheap musical tricks and resigned financial pragmatism.The music for Sir Laurence Olivier’s Henry V and Richard III, which we perform on Wednesday 29 October at Cadogan Hall, are often acclaimed as two of the greatest ever British film scores, and undoubtedly Walton’s masterpieces in the genre.

In this blog post, we track Walton’s collaboration with the famous Hollywood actor and director. Having worked together on at least three much-loved Shakespeare films, Hamlet (1948), Richard III (1955) and Henry V (1944) (to name the most famous), it is remarkable to think that the beginning of their working relationship was rocky. This, however, didn’t stop them becoming great friends and colleagues later in their careers.

Walton and Olivier infographic


Shakespeare: The Kings
Wednesday 29 October, 7.30pm
Cadogan Hall, Sloane Square

Holst Singers
Simon Russell Beale narrator
Stephen Layton conductor

Walton: Henry V: A Shakespeare Scenario
Walton: Richard III: A Musical Scenario

Tickets: £32, £25, £18, £12, £5 (students and 16-25s – pre-register here)

Tickets still available. BOOK NOW


An Interview with Emma Pallant…

This week we caught up with actor Emma Pallant before she joins us this Tuesday, along with Richard Hope, for a very special CLoSer concert featuring two 20th-century takes on Shakespeare: Korngold’s Much Ado about Nothing and Shostakovich’s raucous re-working of Hamlet. She features frequently on stage at Shakespeare’s Globe, but you may also recognise her from Holby City or Doctors! Scroll down to read more about her passion for performing, her musical equivalent of a comfort blanket and love for Shakespearean roles.


What first made you want to become an actor?Emma Pallant Colour NEW


I was performing in one way or another right from when when I was very young: I had ballet lessons from the age of three, then was in the usual run of school plays and eventually joined an amateur dramatics youth group.  I think a shift came when I played Isabella in a college production of Measure for Measure probably aged 17 or so.  That experience certainly moved the thought of acting being just something I do to something I want to keep doing.  I found the text incredibly hard to learn, having never had to take on anything like it before. I put my lines on tape and played them over and over again, trying to drum those huge, complex thoughts into my head.  Once I knew them, and I felt I understood something of the dark rhythm in that amazing language, performing it was an enormous thrill, and certainly like nothing I’d ever done before. We must have only done a few performances but I just didn’t want it to end.


What has your favourite role been?


I think the Shakespearean roles have been the biggest challenges, and the greatest joys, to play. The texts are so rich, there always seems to be something new to mine from them however many performances you do. If I was pressed to choose my favourite I’d have to say Jaques in As You Like It because the experience was different from any other classical role I’ve played: although Jaques is written as a man I was given the opportunity to play the role as a woman, Mistress Jaques. There was a real freedom in making something new from an iconic role. That level of ‘creating’ a character is often quite hard to find with Shakespeare as you’re performing in the shadow of everyone who has come before you.


Are you musical? / Do you play any instruments?


I don’t think I could be called musical, but I have a few modest musical skills. I can play the piano a bit and get a few notes out of a flute (if forced!). Music is an integral part of theatre and in various productions I’ve been in I’ve had to turn my hand to a rather eccentric collection of instruments to feed into the play’s musical landscape – ocarina, tambourine, guitar, recorder, handbells, dulcitone and various bits of percussion, as well as singing.  I wasn’t particularly proficient at any of them, but I always enjoy having a go. I used to play in a steel band at my junior school and I loved that, that was enormous fun. There’s something about making music collectively that’s immensely satisfying so I’m lucky I occasionally get to do that as part of my job.


What is the most played piece on your iPod?


It’s probably something I’ve known for a long time so I’d have to say a solo guitar piece by Pat Metheny, “Solo from More Trains”. When I was a student I used to go to music shops at weekends and spend a few hours at the listening posts, searching for new music and this piece was on one of those ‘found’ albums. I wouldn’t say it was my favourite piece of music but I’ve known it for years: as soon as I hear those first few notes I’m taken right back to the time I bought it. It’s my musical equivalent of a comfort blanket!


What is your favourite cake?


I don’t eat wheat so my choices are limited, but I love a good lemon polenta cake!



Tickets are still available to see Emma Pallant narrate alongside City of London Sinfonia at Village Underground for CLoSer this Tuesday! BOOK NOW


CLoSer: The Entertainments
with City of London Sinfonia, Michael Collins, Richard Hope and Emma Pallant
Tuesday 21 October, 7.30pm
Village Underground, Shoreditch
Tickets (includes free drink), £15, £7.50 (concessions), £5 (students and 16-25s, no free drink, pre-register at cls.co.uk/cls-fiver)

spitalfieldsmusic.org.uk / 020 7377 1362.

Month in Pictures – August and September!

The last couple of months at CLS have seen the opening of our Shakespeare: Let Music Sound series this week, lots of education and community work (including the start of our Lullaby project with young children in Derbyshire), but mainly lots of burgers and lots of cake. Scroll down for some of our favourite moments!


In August, we headed off to Glasgow with Gwilym Simcock and our Principal Conductor and clarinetist, Michael Collins to perform Gwilym’s On a Piece of Tapestry in the City of Music at the UNESCO Commonwealth Games with New Music Biennial.


After our final performance at Opera Holland Park this Summer, our Concerts Manager, Becca had the glorious job of getting the scores ready to send back to the publishers. She found some hilarious markings in the parts, including an enlightening comment from the horn section making sure certain instrumentalists were still awake!


This beautiful picture was taken by our Chief Operating Officer, Elaine during a morning walk, marking the beginning of Autumn with low mist and frost. Get those woolly jumpers ready!

autumn arrives with mist and frost


Our musicians have been up and about doing lots of education and community work this month, including workshops for our Lullaby concert tour in Derbyshire (the picture where the musicians are wearing numbered hats!), First Time Live 2 legacy project in association with Orchestras Live and some concerts and workshops in Jewish Care homes as part of L’Chaim.


On Wednesday we opened the first of our Shakespeare: Let Music Sound Autumn concert series with a performance of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Southwark Cathedral with Holst Singers, baritone Neal Davies and actors Richard Hope and Emma Pallant. Here are some of our favourite snaps, if you want to see more, check out our Facebook page!


The team at CLS has had a bit of a change over the last few months as we’ve said a sad goodbye to our Development Manager, Ruth Mulvey and a temporary farewell to our Education Manager, Gillian who went on maternity leave. This, of course, along with the recent appointment of Nancy Hitzig, our new Philanthropy and Enterprise Manager, have been great excuses for cake, a cheeky game of ‘Guess the Baby’ and a new CLS tradition: Burger Friday!


In other news, our Marketing team have been talking about our CLS FIVER scheme for students and 16-25s at London Freshers Fairs, our Chief Executive, Matthew Swann, had an accident on his bike (for the record, this is not a “favourite moment”, just a memorable one!) and Elaine’s cute dogs, Dolly and Archie, spent a day lending a very helpful paw in the office!

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!


Five fast Falstaff facts!


1.    Falstaff is adapted from Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor and scenes from Henry IV. Verdi wrote two other operas based on Shakespeare plays – Macbeth and Otello.

2.    Falstaff was the last opera written by Verdi when he was 80 years old.

3.    Out of Verdi’s 26 operas – only 2, including Falstaff, were comedies.

4.    Another operatic version of Falstaff was written before Verdi’s opera, by the Viennese classical composer Antonio Salieri (1750-1825).

5.    Elgar composed an orchestral work titled Falstaff – Symphonic Study based on the character of Falstaff.