Tag Archives: London Philharmonic Orchestra

January 2019 – upcoming London classical gigs – Marin Allsop and the LPO bring a batch of premieres to ‘Here and Now’ (16th January); Philip Thomas, Richard Craig and Damien Harron perform Morton Feldman’s ‘Crippled Symmetry’ (22nd January); Phaedra Ensemble and friends play Meredith Monk, Caroline Shaw, Jamie Hamilton and Fred Thomas (29th January)

11 Jan
Marin Allsop, 2018

Marin Allsop, 2018

As well as interlocking with the Southbank’s SoundState festival, next Thursday’s ‘Here and Now’ concert, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Marin Allsop, is part of the orchestra’s year-long ‘Isle of Noises’ series featuring three hundred and thirty years worth of “landmark classics inspired by the British Isles.”

While other concerts in the series are likely to feature Handel, Purcell, Vaughan Williams and other longstanding canon composers influenced (in some cases) by their migration to the islands or (in others) by their responses to its landscapes, this early-stages concert is packed with – read, entirely composed of – premieres of brand new pieces. On offer are the world premieres of Arne Gieshoff’s ‘Burr’, Helen Grime’s ‘Percussion Concerto’ (with Colin Currie as soloist) and Anders Hillborg’s new twenty-minute concerto-for-orchestra ‘Sound Atlas’ (also including a battery of percussion, from the more familiar timpani and tubular bells to Chinese opera gong, vibraslap and paint tin).

In addition, there’s the British premiere of Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür’s ‘Solastalgia for piccolo and orchestra’ (featuring piccoloist Stewart McIlwham). There’s also the European premiere of Louis Andriessen’s ‘Agamemnon’, a kind of actorless, wordless instrumental opera composed by Andriessen for his own 80th birthday celebration concerts in New York last autumn, and described by him as “a war-like piece, full of fast music and nervous terror” constructed (as mythology usually is) by a babble of competing voices. Here’s a little snatch of it from the New York rehearsals…

Earlier in the evening, Marin Allsop will provide a free “Behind the Baton” discussion on the evening’s music and on her thoughts on classical music’s future.

Isle Of Noises, 2019

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Over the next couple of weeks, there are two interesting free concerts in the City, University of London Concert Series at the City campus in Finsbury.

Morton Feldman

Morton Feldman

The first, on the evening of the 22nd, is a performance of Morton Feldman’s ‘Crippled Symmetry’ by percussionist Damien Harron, flautist Richard Craig and Philip Thomas on piano and celesta. One of the composer’s late works (from 1983), it’s “a haunting exploration of stillness, tonal and temporal ambiguities, and musical patterning.” As presented to players, it’s a slightly disassociated triple-part score: each individual part fully notated but deliberately not synchronized with the others (leading to fascinating opportunities for uncertainty and chance).

As with many Feldman pieces, ‘Crippled Symmetry’ is also a long, attenuated listening challenge, lasting an entire hour-and-a-half. Here’s the 1991 version recorded by Eberhard Blum, Jan Williams and Nils Vigeland from Feldman’s original ensemble:

The second concert – a week later on the 29th – features string-quartet-plus-collaborators Phaedra Ensemble. In this case, they’re performing a programme of New York- or London-composed string-based pieces inspired by the human voice.

Phaedra Ensemble, 29th January 2019

From the American side, Roomful Of Teeth member, composer-violinist and sometime hip hop collaborator Caroline Shaw provides 2011’s ‘Entr’acte’: in part, a humorous deconstruction and reconstruction of Haydn in which his sublime classical-era tone shifts struggle to place and reassert themselves within the unruliness of twenty-first century music.

In parallel, NYC loft music veteran and intuitive voice music doyen Meredith Monk contributes her 2005 piece String Songs. Originally premiered in London by the Kronos Quartet almost exactly thirteen years ago, it’s the piece which she transposed and translated her idiosyncratic and individual vocal ideas into string quartet context for the first time. Examples below:

The first of the pieces from the British side – the crinkling, conversational ‘Taking a nap, I pound the rice’ (with its quinpartite nods to the compositions and thoughts of composers from the aforementioned Feldman and John Cage to Anton Webern and Thelonious Monk, and of transformative British nature writer/‘Peregrine’ author J.A. Baker – comes from Fred Thomas, one of F-IRE Collective’s multi-instrumentalist composers. Fred himself joins Phaedra for the piece on prepared piano, accompanied by percussionist Maurizio Ravalico. As with the previous performance of the piece – listen below – narration is provided on tape by rising black British actress Ronke Adekoleujo.

The last piece, ‘Remainder for vocalising string quartet’ is a world premiere from composer/mixed-media artist/Phaedra co-director Jamie Hamilton. It explores “the many techniques that were developed with him incorporating speech, singing and vocalisations with instrumental playing” and continues to pursue his interest in how humans use sound as a measuring medium.

* * * * * * * *


London Philharmonic Orchestra presents:
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Marin Alsop: ‘Here and Now: Isle of Noises’
Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Waterloo, London, SE1 8XX, England
Wednesday 16th January 2019, 7.30pm
– information here (‘Behind the Baton’ talk info here)

City, University of London Concert Series presents:
Philip Thomas + Richard Craig + Damien Harron perform Morton Feldman: Crippled Symmetry
Performance Space @ City, University of London, College Building, St John Street, Finsbury, London, EC1V 4PB, England
Tuesday 22nd January 2018, 7.00pm
– information here and here

City, University of London Concert Series presents:
Phaedra Ensemble: Monk, Shaw, Hamilton, Thomas
Performance Space @ City, University of London, College Building, St John Street, Finsbury, London, EC1V 4PB, England
Tuesday 29th January 2018, 7.00pm
– information here and here

November 2015 – upcoming London gigs – assorted classical and related – Lubomyr Melnyk’s continuous piano (plus James Blackshaw’s flexible guitar and a Franco-Palestinian-Bedouin quintet from Kamilya Jubran & Sarah Murcia); and a Mexican evening with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Jaime Martín and Arturo Chacón-Cruz

30 Oct

Yesterday it was upcoming classical concerts; today it’s close relations of various kinds…

I’ve previously covered, in passing, the Labyrinths series of international live music events (presented by Thirtythree Thirtythree – the team behind St John Sessions – and Nawa Recordings) which are taking place throughout 2015 across Beirut, Cairo and London. Here’s another one, featuring music spanning Palestine, France, the Ukraine and Sussex and mingling Western and Eastern classical, jazz, folk baroque and Arabic forms.

Lubomyr Melnyk + Kamilya Jubran & Sarah Murcia + James Blackshaw (St John Sessions @ St John at Hackney Church, Lower Clapton Road, Clapton, London, E5 0PD, UK, Tuesday 3rd November 2015, 6.30pm) – £16.50

Lubomyr Melnyk & friends

Lubomyr Melnyk is a Ukrainian composer and pianist who has pioneered ‘Continuous Piano Music’. Classically trained and greatly affected by the minimalist movement in the early 1970s, he has developed his own unique language for the piano, named after the principle of maintaining a continuous, unbroken stream of sound. The rapid sequences, coupled with Melnyk’s awe-inspiring ability of playing up to 19 notes per second with each hand simultaneously create a tapestry of sound that transcends sonic waves into a very tangible, physical experience. Having spent much of his artistic life in obscurity, Lubomyr Melnyk’s work was recently rediscovered by a whole new generation of music lovers, offering the piano virtuoso a well-deserved renaissance with world-wide tours.

Kamilya Jubran (Palestinian singer and oud player) and Sarah Murcia (French jazz double bassist and composer) will present the UK debut of their ‘Nhaoul’ project as a quintet also featuring Régis Huby (violin), Guillaume Roy (viola) and Atsushi Sakai (cello). Kamilya and Sarah’s first meeting dates back to 1998, when Sarah joined Sabreen – an innovative Palestinian group whose lead singer was Kamilya – for an album and concert tour of Europe and the Middle East. ‘Nhaoul’ (Arabic for “loom”) was first created together as a duo as a result of a profound exchange around their respective musical interests.

The basis of their duet rests on an amazing musical and aesthetic convergence which has solidified through delving deeper into several compositions by Kamilya based on prose poems, so as to give to the oud a total rhythmic and melodic freedom. Sarah has approached them in a vertical way in adding her harmonies. Her string arrangements, cast against Arabic music, deal with the economy, colours, matter. Kamilya Jurban, on the other hand, comes from a highly melodic and modal culture and thinks her music horizontally.

Over several years of reflection and mutual learning, the two musicians worked to create a common language: Sarah made a point of learning to play the quarter-tones of oriental scales and memorize long labyrinthine sentences – of the oral tradition – which are the rule in Arab music. Kamilya Jubran, in turn, began to internalise the methods of limited transposition and complex rhythmic structures (asymmetry, polyrhythm), following Sarah’s suggestions. The texts selected for setting are chosen from the work of contemporary poets; or are, for ‘Suite Nomade’, excerpts from Bedouin poems from the deserts of the Sinai and Negev published by Clinton Bailey in his collection ‘Bedouin Poetry’ (Saqi Books, reissued in 2002). Kamilya Jubran sings them in dialect remembering the Bedouin women she came across in her childhood.

Hastings-based guitarist and pianist James Blackshaw primarily plays an acoustic 12-string guitar in fingerstyle fashion (for which he has grown long pick-like fingernails on his right hand). A musician blending ideas from assorted folk cultures around the world and from the classical concert hall, James has been compared to cross-genre guitar explorers such as Bert Jansch, Robbie Basho, John Fahey, Jack Rose and Leo Kottke. He has released albums on the labels Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, Static, Digitalis Industries, Important Records, Tompkins Square, and Young God Records.

James has previously collaborated with Lubomyr Melnyk on ‘The Watchers’, a 2013 collection of improvised duets recorded at the Vortex Jazz Club. It’s possible that they might repeat the engagement at this gig.


More information is here, and tickets are here.

Jaime Martin, 2015

Jaime Martin, 2015

Several things have drawn me toward central and south American music recently. One of these things is Alex Ross’ fascinating history (in ‘Listen To This’) of the journey of the chaconne from Africa to south America, and from there to Spain, moving on through Europe and feeding into Monteverdi, the emerging baroque music atmosphere at Versailles, and Bach (there’s a version the whole story at Alex’ blog, here).

The other is the Harp Consort’s wonderful 2002 album, ‘Missa Mexicana‘, which carefully constructs an impression of a Spanish colonial church service in Baroque-era Puebla City, threading secular dances through a Juan Gutiiérez de Padilla mass, with African, traditional Spanish and fresh Mexican musical ideas intertwined.

With both of these in my mind, it was intriguing to see this advertised…

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Jaime Martín/Arturo Chacón-Cruz perform Mexican Magic (Royal Festival Hall @ Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Waterloo, London, SE1 8XX, UK, Friday 6th November 2015, 7.30pm) – £9.00 to £65.00

Experience a dazzling programme of Mexican classical music as we celebrate The Year of Mexico in the UK. Mexican classical music is about more than folklore and colour. Eclectic and sophisticated, it spans a broad spectrum of musical possibilities and embodies the spirit of Mexico in all its richness and diversity. Join London Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Jaime Martín for the slithering sounds of Revueltas’ ‘Sensemayá’, Ibarra’s ear-teasing ‘Sinfonía No. 2 ‘and Márquez’ toe-tapping ‘Danzón No.2’ alongside a selection of popular songs from Mexico (sung by tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz).


Ricardo Castro – Intermezzo from ‘Atzimba’
Charles Gounod – L’amour… Ah! lève-toi, soleil (from ‘Roméo et Juliette’)
Federico Ibarra – Sinfonía No.2 (Las Antesalas des sueño)
Various – Mexican Songs
Leonard Bernstein – Symphonic Dances from ‘West Side Story’
Silvestre Revueltas – Sensemayá
Arturo Márquez – Danzón No.2

More information here, and tickets here.

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More November gig previews shortly…


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