Our next CLoSer event, Sketches of Miles, 6 April at Village Underground is here, and we are so excited! Whether you’re new to CLoSer or a veteran, we have put together a few things you might like to know.
About the event
This CLoSer event features the music of Miles Davis, re-imagined for chamber orchestra as the City of London Sinfonia is joined by the legendary jazz-classical crossover artist Gwilym Simcock and the virtuosic vocals of Cleveland Watkiss. Alongside Miles’ music, we’ll also hear an arrangement by Gwilym of a work by Bach, the latest in our Bach RE:Imagined series.
Our CLoSer series is a wonderful way to unwind with great music and great company in an informal and intimate setting. Check out the great blog our Chief Executive penned for a fantastic insight into the CLoSer atmosphere.
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 Mater, Tilge, 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!
We’re really excited to be joined by composer and violist Ljova for our next CLoSer concert, Émigré – Ljova, at Village Underground on 29 April. Whether you’re new to the CLoSer concerts, a CLoSer veteran, or preparing to settle in and watch the concert on live-stream (visit our website for more details), we have put together a few things you might like to know. Don’t forget you can still get your hands on some tickets from Spitalfields Music Box Office, or by calling 020 7377 1362.
About the event
This CLoSer concert is the next in our Émigré series, celebrating the music of composers who left their homes for a brighter future abroad. Ljova and his family left Moscow in 1990 to start a new life in New York City, where he has remained since, and has created his own unique sound that is a haunting and seamless mix of classical, Russian folk, jazz, Balkan Gypsy, and Klezmer music. Ljova and City of London Sinfonia will be performing a mixture of new works, alongside pieces from his recent albums, including the beautiful Melting River.
In the weeks around our ÉMIGRÉ concert series, we’ve been collecting stories on the theme. While our concerts explore the journeys composers and musicians have made across the world, this blog series, ÉMIGRÉ STORIES, focuses on the journeys made by the individuals that together make City of London Sinfonia.
Our third émigré is violinist Sarah Barnes, a regular and much-loved player with the orchestra. She talks about her family’s emigration from Russia in the early twentieth century, and story of her Jewish grandmother, whose memoirs ‘Growing up in Shoreditch’ reveal much about the musical culture, traditions and life of East End, so populated by many other kindred émigrés.
My Jewish great-grandparents’ emigration from Eastern Europe in the early twentieth century
Children of Jewish emigrants from Eastern Europe, my paternal grandparents grew up in the East End of London. My grandfather’s parents emigrated from Romania and my grandmother’s parents from Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century. It seems they all moved here separately and met their spouses after joining the growing Jewish émigré community in the East End. Jews from Eastern Europe moved to England and America in increasingly large numbers during this period. Pogroms (attacks on Jewish people) had been occurring across the Russian Empire and discriminatory laws meant that there were few livelihoods open to them.
This Wednesday, we’re delighted to be going to Village Underground, Shoreditch for a very special tango-inspired CLoSer – To and From Buenos Aires – with live dancers and a free tango taster from 6.45pm! Whether you’re joining us for this exciting event, thinking of coming (there are still a few tickets available from Spitalfields Music Box Office website or on 020 7377 1362!) or planning on watching it on live-stream, we’ve put together a few bits of information that you might need on the night.
Info on the event
Astor Piazzolla left Buenos Aires in the 1950s, taking tango music to New York, Paris and the world. Three decades earlier, Osvaldo Golijov’s family escaped anti-Semitic persecution in Romania to find a new life in Buenos Aires. Part of our ground-breaking intimate concert series CLoSer, and the first performance in our ÉMIGRÉ concert series, the concert explores these composers’ take on tango’s sultry, melancholic rhythms and dance. CLS musicians will be joined by bandoneónist Julian Rowlands who together will perform repertoire to include Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, Tango del Diablo and Golijov’s Last Round.
Before the concert begins, we will be joined by dance teachers, Greg Warren-Wilson and Liz Tomlin, who will host a FREE tango taster from 6.45pm. If you don’t fancy participating, the bar will also be open from this time where you can grab a drink and watch us all attempt this elegant dance form!
After the concert, the bar remains open and our leader, Alexandra Wood, will be opening up the dance floor for a free dance to live tango music, where the audience is invited to show off their new-found tango dance moves, as learnt earlier in the evening!
How to find the venue
The venue is less than 5 minutes walk from Shoreditch High Street Station (Overground). Alternatively, you can walk from Liverpool Street Station (Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and Central Lines) which only takes 15 minutes. To view a map of the area click here. There are no planned engineering works on this day so your journey by tube / train should be undisrupted.
Food and drink
If you fancy going for food or drink before or after the event, we’ve compiled a quick list of some of our favourite places in the area. We’ve also created a handy map to show you where they are located.
A converted warehouse space similar in vibe to Village Underground, Pizza East is popular with both resident Shoreditchians and those from further afield. The menu is inventive and original with pizzas only costing from £8-£14, whose unique topping combination are regularly rejigged.
A contemporary restaurant with an open kitchen, leather sets and a lounge area, Hoxton Grill serves a range of Classic American food from steaks, tapas-inspired small plates, burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese. This trendy restaurant is part of Hoxton Hotel and also serves some very appetising cocktails, so worth visiting even if just for a drink!
Andina is as much a bar as a restaurant with a range of Peruvian-inspired ceviches, street food, cocktails and colourful smoothies. Of a very reasonable price, the food is both delicious and full of variety; enough to satisfy any craving.
Recommended for steaks and burgers which are cooked on a real charcoal grill, Hawksmoor Spitalfields is the place to go for the best British meat in Shoreditch. Along with food they also have a library of print cocktail books to revive some great forgotten drinks, wines from obscure small producers and big name vineyard alike, and ice-cold, locally brewed beers.
Clue yourself up on tango music and dance with our recently published blog posts:
Before the concert begins, why not get into the mood with our tango playlist, featuring music by Piazzolla, the Gotan Project, Sexteto Mayor and more!
This concert will be live-streamed!
If you can’t make it in person, you can catch the concert on live-stream for FREE on our website and YouTube channel. Just click on any of the following links at 7.30pm on Wednesday 25 February and you will be able to watch the concert for free from the comfort of your own home!
At a glance the basement venue is an odd choice for a classical music concert, but when colourful cushions, vibrant musicians and an excited audience are added, the venue comes alive! Its prime location in the up and coming Shoreditch area is great for attracting creative locals, but is also an appealing spot to visit for those who live further afield. Our CLoSer audiences consist of a wide range of people, young and old, with mixed levels of musical knowledge and varied experiences of classical music, but who all wish to share their love of music in the informal and relaxed environment that CLoSer provides.
The programme for this first concert had a distinctly American feel to it and Michael Collins, City of London Sinfonia’s Principal Conductor, delved straight into the Stravinsky Concerto in D with a high level of excited energy. The City of London Sinfonia strings played with a commitment to this energetic and rhythmic concerto, evidenced by the sight of a loose bow hair flying around in the violins. The second movement was beautifully melodic and reminiscent of a romantic ballet, rather than the sacrificial dance that Stravinsky is known for. This came to an abrupt end in the third movement which presented a pulsating rhythm and a mischievous melody in the violins, creating a tense mood and putting me on the edge of my cushion!
We then welcomed Guest Artists the Katona Twins to the stage to perform Piazzolla’s Hommage à Liège. The Hungarian guitar duo were joined by a dissonant string accompaniment which filled the brick underground with a wonderful resonant sound. The music was intricate and detailed and the pair played with style and apparent ease. At one point the cellos, double bass and guitar duo used their instruments as drums to create a powerful rhythm which built up to an explosive finale which caused excitement to ripple through the room.
The Twins took centre stage for two further pieces from De Falla’s El Amor Brujo suite – The Magic Circle and Ritual Fire Dance. These were full of emotion and with the help of the relaxed atmosphere and the close proximity to the guitar duo, the audience were able to connect to the musicians from their own cushioned corner. In quieter moments the music was played with grace and intimacy, and the louder moments were confident and passionate.
As an encore, the twins played Piazzolla’s Autumn in Buenos Aires, joined by a tango dancing couple who highlighted the sensual and smooth character of De Falla’s music with their movement.
Michael Collins returned for the final piece of the night, to much delight of the audience. The opening of Copland’s Clarinet Concerto was magical, calming and soothing. Michael did a sterling job as both clarinettist and conductor, seamlessly transforming from one role to the other throughout. As always, his playing was flawless and animated and the string players were exceptionally engaging.
The post-concert atmosphere was fantastic with many audience members staying to chat with the musicians, bursting with their thoughts on the evening. The only disappointment is that we’ll have to wait until February for the next one!
Our opening concert for the second CLoSer series features Guest Artists the Katona Twins. But who are the men involved in this unique duo? Here’s a quick snapshot:
Name Peter and Zoltán Katona
Nationality Identical twins Peter and Zoltán were born in Hungary. They are German citizens, but now live in Liverpool in the UK.
Background Labelled as “the classical world’s best known guitar duo” by the Daily Telegraph, the Katona Twins studied in Budapest, Frankfurt and at the Royal Academy of Music in London. They have given recitals in major concert venues all over the world including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Suntory Hall in Tokyo and the Philharmonie in Cologne. The duo perform a wide range of repertoire from classical Bach and Mozart, Spanish and Tango, to more popular music genres including their own arrangements of pop classics!
Breakthrough moment In 2009, they performed live to half a million people in arenas across Europe as the soloists for Night of the Proms. Inspired by the British Last Night of the Proms, these concerts have become one of the most visited and most attractive musical events in Belgium and in Europe, combining both classical and pop music.
CLoSer performance Piazzolla – Hommage à Liège
The master of Tango, Astor Piazzolla wrote this lyrical double concerto for guitar, bandoneón and strings. Piazzolla’s compositional style incorporated elements from both jazz and classical music to create nuevo tango, distinct from the traditional tango style.
Falla – El amor brujo
Manuel de Falla was one of Spain’s most important musicians in the early 20th century. Falla rarely composed for the guitar, however he took much inspiration from early Spanish guitar music. El amor brujo was originally composed as a chamber piece and eventually transformed into a ballet. The Katona Twins will be performing their own arrangement of this piece for guitar duo and percussion.
Visit the Katona Twins youtube channel to find out more
CLoSerWed 19 September, 7.30pmVillage Underground, ShoreditchTickets: £15 (includes a free drink) Box Office: 020 7377 1362/spitalfieldsmusic.org.uk