Tag Archives: Village Underground

Retrospect: The Book of Hours

The Book of Hours (on 22 November) brought something slightly different to our Modern Mystics trilogy, showcasing our outstanding musicians in music evoking both medieval and modern sound worlds. Our audience could shift between the Orchestra onstage and Jack James’ imaginative visual interpretations of the music on the red-bricked wall of Village Underground.

In her first outing with our musicians, Jessica Cottis led a programme of contemporary classical repertoire with a vast variety of textures and effects, and with instrumentation ranging from solo viola (Fiona Bonds starring in Skempton’s Only the Sound Remains) to synthesizer and sampler. We even fitted in some Thai Tuned Gongs, and experimented with aluminium foil on our string instruments!

We were also honoured to be joined by the three living composers, Howard Skempton, Richard Causton and Julian Anderson, who spoke about their pieces with Jessica Cottis and Alexandra Wood in between performances.

Take a look at some of James Berry’s brilliant photos below.

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Join us for the finale our Modern Mystics trilogy on Saturday 2 December at St John’s Smith Square. We’ll be joined by cellist Matthew Barley who performs John Tavener’s ecstatic vision of devotion for cello and orchestra, The Protecting Veil, and presents an interactive exploration of the music as part of Southbank Centre’s Belief and Beyond Belief festival.

All images © James Berry Photography.

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

 

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Your guide to The Book of Hours

Medieval period – check. Modern music – check. Electronics – check. A Mass setting – check. Lighting and projections – check. All we need now is our audience… and our musicians, of course.

We’re going in a slightly different musical direction in our next Modern Mystics concert on Wednesday 22 November at Village Underground. In The Book of Hours, the Orchestra will perform contemporary works by Julian Anderson, Howard Skempton, Richard Causton and Jonathan Harvey – all new music influenced by ancient sound worlds. Some of these compositions come with a plethora of effects made by live electronics, which Video Artist Jack James will further enhance with more incredible lighting and projections, as featured in The Fruit of Silence.

At the centre of our programme is Julian Anderson’s Book of Hours – a piece that conductor Jessica Cottis describes as “extraordinary. It really is a world of its own.

“As the piece progresses, the added element of live electronics comes to the fore, and we hear all kinds of different sounds. There are Mongolian temple bells… there’s a scratchy record player from former Eastern Bloc, and this kind of takes over and almost obliterates the acoustic sounds.”

We look forward to collaborating with Jessica in her CLS debut, and in a programme that she has no doubt “is going to be weird and wonderful”.

Jessica Cottis (c) Kaupo Kikkas
Jessica Cottis – Photo (c) Kaupo Kikkas

A City of London Sinfonia concert at Village Underground is an experience, rather than just a concert. “It’s not a traditional concert, it doesn’t have that formality – it’s warm; it invites you in,” says Alexandra Wood, our Creative Director and Leader.

In The Book of Hours, our audience members can relax on cushions, chairs, and even perch next to the bar while enjoying the music and visuals – you can stop and listen to the music in whichever way you choose.

How do I find out more?

You can find out more about our Modern Mystics: The Book of Hours concert on our website at cls.co.uk, where you can also purchase tickets.

Fast forward to 6.42 in our Modern Mystics podcast to hear more from Jessica Cottis and Alexandra Wood, in live footage from our Season Launch in our latest podcast (available to download/listen to on SoundCloud and iTunes).

You can also watch as our Chief Executive, Matthew Swann, gives a one-minute video account of the music featured in our sonic trilogy, and keep up to date with our #ModernMystics series on Twitter.

Retrospective on The Soldier’s Tale

On 5 April we made a devilish return to Shoreditch’s cultural converted warehouse, Village Underground, in the finale of our Folk Tunes Tall Tales series – an intimate performance of The Soldier’s Tale, starring Shakespeare aficionados Simon Russell Beale, Dame Janet Suzman and Ivanno Jeremiah.

Kicking back and relaxing on our comfy cushions, at the bar and in premium seats, as advised by CLS Chief Executive Matthew Swann, we were treated to ‘an entertaining introductory talk’ (The Guardian) by Bill Barclay, Director of Music at Shakespeare’s Globe, who set the scene for a ‘pleasingly understated production’ (Evening Standard) of Stravinsky’s dramatic masterpiece.

Inspired by a collection of 17th-century Russian folk fables by Alexander Afanasyev, The Soldier’s Tale depicts the story of a deserter who has been robbed of his violin by the devil, with Alexandra Wood’s ‘sinuous violin’ (The Times) symbolising the soul of the soldier and the percussion that of the devil.

‘…with Michael Collins conducting, the playing was attractively abrasive’
Evening Standard

We revelled in seeing such talented actors up close and bringing character to Jeremy Sams’ ‘neat English version of the text’ (The Guardian), with additional modernisations from our very own Elaine Baines, and Janet Suzman sent shivers down our spines with her ‘sulphurous cackle’ (The Times).

Once the soldier’s soul had been sold and the devil had won, our all-star cast was greeted with the applause and cheer of a very happy audience, and there was nothing more to be done but to head to the Village Underground bar – and to pack the cushions away for another Season.

We’ll be back at Village Underground on Wednesday 22 November in the second concert of our autumn Modern Mystics series – an immersive Sonic Trilogy, conjuring up the past through music, light and amplification. Get closer…

Plan your event night – Sketches of Miles

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.

Continue reading Plan your event night – Sketches of Miles

Retrospective on CLoSer: Song of the Earth

Our RE:Imagine series continued in style last night as Village Underground transformed into London’s most intimate and relaxed concert venue for CLoSer: Song of the Earth. The elegance of Johann Strauss distilled for salon orchestra and Bach’s Toccata and Fugue (arranged by up-and-coming young composer Luke Styles) set the scene. Storyteller Rachel Rose Reid enthralled the audience before we heard Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. Mezzo-soprano Anna Huntley and Tenor Gwilym Bowen took centre stage as all the mastery of Mahler’s epic symphony, concentrated into an ensemble of just 15 world-class musicians.

The concert was live-streamed online – checkout the highlights below and some beautiful photos from the concert by the wonderful James Berry along with your reactions from Twitter. Just tweet us at @CityLdnSinfonia to let us know what you thought!

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Forthcoming concerts

We hope you can join us at a concert soon – for full listings visit cls.co.uk/whats-on

The next concert in our RE:Imagine series is The Great English Songbook  when we will be journeying through England’s Elizabethan age and Shropshire countryside with baritone Roderick Williams on 9 March at Southwark Cathedral.

We are next back at Village Underground for CLoSer: Sketches of Miles on 6 April when  we will transport you to New York as we explore the musical marriage of the legendary trumpeter Miles Davis and composer/arranger Gil Evans.

The Great English Songbook
Wednesday 9 March 2016, 7:30pm
Southwark Cathedral, London, SE1 9DA
Tickets £25, £15, £5* (*restricted view)
cls.co.uk / 020 7621 2800

CLoSer: Sketches of Miles
Wednesday 6 April 2016, 7.30pm
Village Underground, London, EC2A 3PQ
TICKETS: £15 (includes a free drink)
cls.co.uk / 020 7621 2800

CLoSer with Rachel Rose Reid

The next CLoSer concert of our RE:Imagine series is just around the corner on Wednesday 17 February. CLoSer: Song of the Earth features Mahler’s epic song of despair Das Lied von der Erde, which  was originally written for a vast orchestra. We perform the piece in a salon arrangement by Schoenberg, written for the Society for Private Musical Performances, which performed scaled-down versions of new music to interested Viennese citizens. (Read more about the twentieth century Viennese cultural landscape here). 

Das Lied von der Erde shows Mahler at his most turbulent and hopeless, reeling from three personal tragedies. We’re so pleased that storyteller Rachel Rose Reid will be on hand to navigate Mahler’s emotional turmoil with us in a specially-commissioned introduction to the piece.

We asked Rachel what we can expect from her story

“It will be lyrical prose which summons Gustav and Alma to us so we can comprehend a little of the context of the composition. Mahler wrote to a friend that he thought this might be his ‘most personal piece’.

“My work is to build a bridge between Mahler, writing this piece, and ourselves, listening to it over a hundred years later.

“Mahler is sitting in nature, where he always sat for inspiration, but not permitted to explore it. Inside a marriage but not at home in his marriage. Inside his society but not at home in society. His music is a place he can inhabit. Meanwhile, Alma struggles to fit in also, with social roles, with grief, with marriage. She struggles with Mahler’s music – in her diary she writes that there are just two pieces of his she really loves. And then she adds, in pencil ‘and the Song of the Earth’.”

Take a look at some of Rachel’s other work…

If you missed Rachel Rose Reid on The Verb earlier this month, celebrating national storytelling week, you can still catch up

Join us on Wednesday for CLoSer: Song of the Earth with storytelling introduction. Can’t make it? The event will be live-streamed on our YouTube channel.

CLoSer: Song of the Earth
Wednesday 17 February 2016, 7.30pm
Village Underground, 54 Holywell Lane, EC2A 3PQ
Tickets £15 (includes a free drink), £5 students / 16-25s
Box Office cls.co.uk / 020 7621 2800

Mahler, Schoenberg and superstitions

The world of classical music has seen quite a few characters in its time. From composers prone to violent tantrums (Beethoven, Lully) to singers seemingly out of touch with reality (Florence Foster Jenkins), eccentricities abound. Mahler and Schoenberg, who come together in CLoSer: Song of the Earth, were both fervently superstitious…

Mahler and the Curse of the Ninth

The Curse of the Ninth referred to the ill-fated composers who died after writing their ninth symphonies, before completing a tenth. For Mahler, it was Beethoven who embodied this, though he did not refer to it as a ‘curse’. To say that Mahler was spooked by the idea is an understatement; he so feared dying after composing a ninth symphony, he forwent numbering what would have been his ninth, naming it Das Lied von der Erde and subtitling it instead Symphony for Tenor, Alto and large Orchestra. But Mahler’s preoccupation with his own mortality as he was writing Das Lied von der Erde is understandable – his life had descended into turmoil. Just one year earlier he suffered three great traumas: he lost his position as Director of the Vienna State Opera; his eldest daughter, Maria, contracted scarlet fever and died; and a doctor diagnosed him with a fatal heart condition.

In a twist of irony though, believing that he had cheated fate, he numbered his next symphony his ‘ninth’ and died leaving his ‘tenth’ incomplete.

Gustav-Mahler-Kohut

Schoenberg and 13

Like Mahler’s, Schoenberg’s great superstition was also numbers-based. A life-long triskaidekaphobe, Schoenberg went out of his way to avoid the number 13. It has been suggested that he even went as far as deliberately misspelling his opera Moses un Aron as the correct spelling resulted in the title being 13 letters long. His fear came to a head on Friday 13 July 1951, when Schoenberg was 76 years old. Not only was the date Friday 13, but the digits in his age also added up to 13. Schoenberg spent the day in bed, fearing the worst was to happen, and just before midnight it did. His wife, Gertrud, recalled  “about a quarter to twelve I looked at the clock and said to myself: another quarter of an hour and then the worst is over. Then the doctor called me. Arnold’s throat rattled twice, his heart gave a powerful beat and that was the end”.

Arnold_schönberg_credit_man_ray
Schoenberg, by Man Ray

 

Delve deeper into Mahler’s mind on 17 February and explore his life and emotions as he was writing Das Lied von der Erde. Storyteller Rachel Rose Reid joins us for a new commission based on Mahler’s turbulent relationship with his wife, Alma.

CLoSer: Song of the Earth
Wednesday 17 February 2016, 7.30pm
Village Underground, 54 Holywell Lane, EC2A 3PQ
Tickets £15 (includes a free drink), £5 students / 16-25s
Box Office cls.co.uk / 020 7621 2800

Our year in pictures – 2015

It was quite a year at CLS. We began 2015 with our Émigré series, full of music by composers who travelled the globe looking for fame and fortune, new artistic experiences, or just a safe place to call home. We did some travelling of our own when we visited Mexico in the spring, before setting up camp once again with Opera Holland Park over the summer. This autumn saw the beginning of our RE:Imagine series, which explores composers’ new interpretations and perspectives on existing works. Take a stroll with us down memory lane and see some of our highlights from 2015…

With the help of some brilliant cat gifs, we channelled our inner dancers for the tango-inspired CLoSer: To and From Buenos Aires. We also reminded ourselves just how weird cats can be!

The real dancers who joined us for the concert were brilliant, though!

 

In April, Russian-born New York composer and violist Ljova joined us for a special residency. He delighted us all with his beautiful blend of classical music, Russian folk, Klezmer and jazz, reflecting his own émigré roots. In anticipation of his arrival, we all thought up our favourite viola jokes…

Continue reading Our year in pictures – 2015

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

RETROSPECTIVE – CLOSER: DEBUSSY, COPLAND AND DANCE

After weeks of excitement, our RE:Imagine series opened on Tuesday night with CLoSer: Debussy, Copland and Dance at Village Underground. We were joined by the exceptionally talented dancers Katie Neal and Dani Harris-Walters who performed new choreography by Tony Adigun to Debussy’s Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune.

Here are some beautiful photos from the concert by the wonderful James Berry, along with some of our highlights from the evening and lovely audience feedback we received.

Don’t forget, you can watch highlights from the concert on our Youtube channel until 30 September.

The next concert in our RE:Imagine series is Venice: Darkness to Light at Southwark Cathedral on 14 October, when we will be exploring the music of this beautiful city through works by Bach, Vivaldi, Liszt, Stravinsky and more. We’re especially excited to be joined by CLS favourite Elin Manahan Thomas in Bach’s take on Pergolesi’s dark and mournful Stabat Mater. We hope to see 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