Tag Archives: Southwark Cathedral

Your guide to Bach and the Cosmos

How do maths and music link together? In Bach and the Cosmos, we’ll explore the answer through music for orchestra and voice by JS Bach in concerts in London, Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol in October 2018.

Curated in collaboration with Roderick Williams OBE, our London series and University Tour feature some of Bach’s most numerical compositions, including the Goldberg Variations, Musical Offering, Brandenburg Concerto No.3 and B Minor Mass.

Who better to delve into all the mathematical structures and patterns in Bach’s music than a Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Oxford? Professor James Sparks joins our musicians at four of the top UK universities for maths and the Queen Elizabeth Hall to do just that in performances described as “TED talks…but with a live orchestra”.

Roderick Williams
(Image: Benjamin Ealovega) Roderick Williams directs and performs in Bach and the Cosmos

Our series bears three distinctive programmes of Bach’s music. In our Goldberg Variations tour (dates and venues below), Orchestra Leader Alexandra Wood directs the title piece alongside mathematical discovery with James Sparks.

You can see James again in Bach Remixed at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall with a focus on different pieces and musical-methodological revelations. Baritone Roderick Williams and the Epiphoni Consort (pictured below) also join our line-up in vocal music including Ich habe genugSinget dem Herrn and Komm, süsser Tod. You can also see Roderick’s contemporary piece Enough for solo oboe performed by our very own Dan Bates.

Following their incredible performance in Modern Mystics last November, we’re excited to perform with the Epiphoni Consort at Southwark Cathedral again on Saturday 20 October in an immersive performance of Bach’s monumental B Minor Mass, conducted by renowned conductor and Bach interpreter John Butt.

Performance dates: London series

Wednesday 10 October, 1.30pm
Goldberg Variations, Relaxed Performance: Canada Water Theatre
Tickets: CLS Box Office | Canada Water Theatre Box Office

Wednesday 10 October, 7.30pm
Goldberg Variations: The Octagon, Queen Mary University of London
Tickets: CLS Box Office

Tuesday 16 October, 7.30pm
Bach Remixed: Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre
Tickets: CLS Box Office | Southbank Centre Ticket Office

Saturday 20 October, 7.30pm
B Minor Mass: Southwark Cathedral
Tickets: CLS Box Office

University Tour: Goldberg Variations

Tuesday 9 October, 7.30pm
Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford
Free admission: register by email | More info

Wednesday 10 October, 7.30pm
The Octagon, Queen Mary University of London
Tickets: CLS Box Office

Thursday 11 October, 7.30pm
West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge
Tickets: CLS Box Office

Monday 15 October, 7.30pm
St George’s Bristol
Tickets: St George’s Bristol Box Office

Find out more with CEO Matthew Swann

On a cloudy day in Brixton, we caught up with CEO Matthew Swann who explains all about our Bach and the Cosmos programmes and collaborations.

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Retrospect: The Fruit of Silence

Our audience members created their own spiritual and spatial journeys through music, architecture and visuals in the first concert of our Modern Mystics series on 9 November. As someone on Twitter put it, we treated them to ‘a sonic full body massage’.

There were people exploring Southwark Cathedral as our musicians and Epiphoni Consort took up different positions to perform; meditating to the tranquil music on cushions, pews and chairs, and leaning against the architecture while admiring Jack James’ stunning projections.

Take a look at some of the fantastic photos from the night, taken by Kaupo Kikkas.

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Join us for more immersive experiences in The Book of Hours at Village Underground on 22 November, and The Protecting Veil at St John’s Smith Square on 2 December.

All images © Kaupo Kikkas.

Tell us about you Modern Mystics experience

If you’ve been to any or all of our Modern Mystics concerts, we would love to hear about how much you enjoyed them! You can write a review on our Facebook page or on Google tweet us @CityLDNsinfonia, or send us an audio recording to info@cls.co.uk which we can feature in one of our podcasts.

#ModernMystics

Jack James: Visuals in The Fruit of Silence

Earlier this autumn, we caught up with Video Artist Jack James to find out more about him and what he’s got in store for our audience in The Fruit of Silence at Southwark Cathedral on Thursday 9 November.

How long have you been a video artist for?

“It must be about 10 years. I started in theatre and did a degree in Technical Theatre and Stage Management, which was at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. It’s quite mixed with lots of different things going on; it’s not just about theatre.”

We got to know you because of Opera Holland Park…

“Yes, Flight at Opera Holland Park. And we’re now going to do that with Scottish Opera, which is interesting – the set is very different; it’s much bigger.”

Have you worked with a lot of orchestras before?

“Not really, no – only in an opera context.”

Is this the first time you’re working with just a live orchestra?

“Yeah, it’s going to be great. I’m looking forward to it.”

In The Fruit of Silence, people are going to be walking around throughout the concert and there’s a choir that will also be roaming around the Cathedral. Where are the visuals going to go?

“We’re going to operate mostly in the main part of the Cathedral, so when they promenade off, they’ll be going to places without video and coming back to those moments. We’ll do some stuff that relates to the architecture, and some stuff which is more general and abstract.”

What’s the creative process? How do you go about designing something for a gig?

“It depends. Often we’re working with other designers who have a particular initial overview, so we might take stimulus from the way they design the set. I think in this case that is the Cathedral itself, so that will be the starting point, and then listen to the music and start to get ideas of what it feels like.

“There’s a satisfaction to responding to something; being able to hear something in the space, to change the way you think about it. We try to build it like a kit of parts; get some ideas and try and assemble them into a formal thing over the process, so you can always be a little bit flexible. Sometimes you get somewhere and look at something and think, ‘ah, what this really needs is…’ So it’s not just a one-hit process.

“Different people work in different ways. Some people would map the whole plan out and set off and do it, and some people would react more. And when it comes to music, I think being able to react is quite important, because we won’t be the only people that want to change things last minute. People think about classical music as rigid sometimes, but I don’t think that’s really true. I think there’ll be a lot of changes and you want to see a performance come out as people are rehearsing, and we want to respond in the same way.”

What are your influences and inspirations?

“I’m really fascinated by abstract imagery, and how it can help be a picture that on its own doesn’t really mean much, but when it’s combined with things can represent or evoke a thought or an idea.”

Why do you think that visuals at a classical music concert might be interesting?

“I think it might help people connect with it. There are challenges with classical music, and I think anything that will help people – who haven’t necessarily been to one of those concerts before – get it, feels like it’s worth doing. And it’s such a beautiful space that we can accent parts of it; it should enrich the whole thing.

“People say that it’s very musical; the visuals are not just happening at the same time, it’s more that they are involved or reflect the music. We have to be very careful not to do something that distracts them at the most important bit. I guess we’re giving people something else to do while they’re listening, because it helps them engage the mind.”


Watch Jack James’ projections and visuals in action in our first two Modern Mystics concerts: The Fruit of Silence, Thursday 9 November (7.30pm), Southwark Cathedral and The Book of Hours, Wednesday 22 November (7.30pm), Village Underground.

Wine, Song and Music with Amelia Singer

Amelia Singer writes about why she thinks wine is an art, ahead of her wine tasting event before our concert, The Great English Songbook, on 9 March.

Amelia will next join us for an evening of wine tasting at Bedales of Borough paired to our Paris Reflected concert programme – the finale of our RE:Imagine series.

Amelia Singer
Amelia Singer is a TV Presenter on The Wine Show, Jamie Oliver Vlogger and Blogger and Founder of Amelia’s Wine – a fun, authentic wine tasting service Amelias-wine.com

Next week I will be doing a wine tasting in conjunction with the CLS’ Re:Imagine series. I was super excited to be included in this programme as not only do I love wine,  the CLS and Southwark Cathedral as a concert venue, I also strongly believe that wine and music complement each other and help create new visions and re imaginations of both art forms.

And yes, I do think it is possible to consider wine as an art form. Both wine and music are experimental, both are creative, both can be extremely technical but ultimately they are meant to be fun and enhance the world around us.  There have been experiments which have proven that music can actually  influence the way we taste wine, and I hope that next Wednesday evening I can demonstrate how wine can absolutely add new nuances and an extra depth of appreciation to musical pieces that you may already know and love.

The wine-cup is the little silver well,
Where truth, if truth there be, doth dwell.

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Amelia Singer at a Wine Tasting Event

Next week’s music programme will be looking at ‘The Great English Song book’. All of the featured music has been written or adapted in the last century. However, the inspiration, lyrics and musical form  of these pieces have been mostly based on an enthralling collection of English songs, poems and plays from the 16th century. A particularly apt period of time for this concert due to it being  in the midst of the Renaissance, that pivotal era of re-birth, re-vision and re-imagining  of  Man’s place in the world.

Amelia Singer - Wine Tasting Group

Pairing wines to specific pieces, I hope will add an extra appreciation to this collection of Song. There will be British bubbles to start which will open our minds to the English songs and to the notion of what it means to be ‘English’. This idea will then be further explored by comparing wines from around the world to three of the pieces. The variety of wines will be used to explore the different nuances and influences behind the Songs as well as to explore this idea of ‘Englishness’.  Is it something that is innate and untouchable or something that evolves with the time? Is there an ideal we can aspire to or is that just a fanciful idyll? And just as  importantly, through these Re:Imagined works and their wine pairing, what new visions, if any, of ‘Englishness’ can transpire and resonate.

We may not come to any conclusions, but wine and music combined will definitely ensure an entertaining, engaging and effusive evening!

Read Amelia’s blog on how music can actually influence the way we taste wine.

Tickets for Amelia’s next Wine Tasting event are just £22 – book now at cls.co.uk 

 

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.

spotify:user:cityoflondonsinfonia:playlist:7p9Vy9GkUWwJe7Wwxu3iDD

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.

spotify:user:cityoflondonsinfonia:playlist:4MBlS8ad60WwDc88Grbxn3

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

Interview with Amelia Singer

Ahead of our concert and wine tasting next week, we sat down with founder of Amelia’s Wine, Amelia Singer to explore the fascinating world of music and wine…

What drew you towards wine, and how did you get started in the business?

Wine has always been part of my life. I was practically weaned on it by my father! I have always loved cooking and finding the flavours in food, so it was a very natural fit.

I studied acting at university, but I was very involved with the food and wine society, which I absolutely loved. There are so few young women in the wine industry, I decided I would use my acting training to become the Jamie Oliver of wine! So, I spent the next six years working in wineries all over the world, learning all I could about wine and the business, and two years ago I started Amelia’s Wine.

blog wine

Can you tell us a bit about Italian wine?

I adore north east Italy, so preparing the wines for this tasting has been great. One of my favourite wines, which I first remember enjoying with my father, is a classic Amarone. It’s an elegant, robust and reflective red, with dried fruit, chocolate, and smoky flavours. It’s a great wine to savour as it has so many layers; there’s a lot going on, so you can keep going back to it. When it comes to bubbles, rather than a Prosecco, I love a Franciacorta which is also from the region, and is aged longer than Champagne.

How did you go about pairing the wines with the music?

I always go straight to the music and the context and ethos of the programme, and in this case the themes of recreating and re-imagining; playing with the imagination and perceptions and expectations, creating a new way of tasting what you think you know well. I knew the area to focus on, and that I wanted to reflect the idea of darkness to light in the colour spectrum of the wine. I’ve chosen a wine that combines the best of Italy and Germany to complement the Bach in the programme, a bubbly but more serious wine to bring out the Commedia dell’arte themes of Pulcinella, and an elegant, multi-faceted red inspired by Liszt’s The Black Gondola.

What can we expect from the evening?

Something that’s interactive, fun, social, and friendly, with lively, diverse, curious people. You’ll learn something, and hopefully feel confident and empowered, and see the pieces of music and the wine in a new light. I’m really excited about holding the tasting in the intimate space at Bedales.

And finally, what music are you listening to at the moment?

It’s been a very hectic week, so during the days it’s something upbeat. In the evenings I’ve been chilling out to some Jazz with Gregory Porter and Claire Teal.

Tickets for this special wine tasting event at Bedales Wines are limited, so book soon!

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

RE:IMAGINE – PULCINELLA

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

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

BACH RE:IMAGINED – UGIS PRAULINS

Bach RE:Imagined is a thread which ties together our new season of concerts. We’re incredibly proud to continue the tradition of re-imagining great works and we have commissioned seven wonderful composers to re-arrange the works of JS Bach. At our CLoSer concert on 22 September we heard our wonderful principal conductor, Michael Collins’ clarinet transcription of Bach’s Cello Suite in D Minor. On 14 October, we present Ugis Praulins’ Bach re-imagining at Southwark Cathedral during Venice: Darkness to Light, and so we’ve put together a little guide to this marvellous Latvian composer…

Ugis Praulins

We’ve put together a short playlist of Praulins’ work to give you an idea of his unique sound:

spotify:user:cityoflondonsinfonia:playlist:2ovgICdh25SrIhDiY3wk5A

Join us for an exciting concert of the music of Venice. We bring the atmosphere of this breathtaking city to the banks of the Thames, with music by Vivaldi, Liszt, Stravinsky and more, including a performance of Pergolesi’s dark and mournful Stabat Mater with Elin Manahan Thomas.

We hope to see you soon!

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