LCO shortlisted for the RPS Music Awards in both the ‘Ensemble’ and ‘Concert Series and Festivals’ categories
We’re very pleased to announce that the LCO has been shortlisted for the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards in both the ‘Ensemble’ and ‘Concert Series and Festivals’ categories.
The annual RPS Music Awards, presented in association with BBC Radio 3, are the highest recognition for live classical music in the UK. Awards, in thirteen categories, are decided by independent panels consisting of some of the music industry’s most distinguished practitioners. The awards honour musicians, composers, writers, broadcasters and inspirational arts organisations. The list of previous winners reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of classical music. This year’s RPS Music Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in 2013.www.rpsmusicawards.com
Guitarist and composer Jonny Greenwood is once again joining forces with the LCO to present a special one-off performance featuring music from his catalogue of film scores as well as a showcase of new material by Greenwood, at Wapping Hydraulic Power Station on Sunday 23 February.
Greenwood will appear alongside the LCO Soloists playing guitar, electronics and the Ondes Martenot. In addition to music by Greenwood, which includes cues from his scores for the Oscar and BAFTA-nominated films There Will Be Blood and The Master, and Japanese film Norwegian Wood based on the book by Haruki Murakami, the concert features works by Bach, Purcell and LCO Composer-in-Association Edmund Finnis.
We are pleased to announce that Micachu will join us at Oval Space next Thursday for the final Imagined Occasions instalment. Buy ticket online here.
Full running order and timings:
PousseurSeismagramme I-II Vinko Globokar?Corporel VivierVariation I George BenjaminThree Miniatures for Solo Violin HarveyRicercare una Melodia Alastair PuttMadrugada (world premiere, LCO commission) Thomas AdèsCatch VarèseOctandre
Robert Ames (conductor)
9:30pm Micachu aftershow DJ set
Sunday 18 August 2013
LCO collaborate with Vivienne Westwood for Stockhausen’s ‘KLANG’ at the Roundhouse
LCO is pleased to be collaborating with Vivienne Westwood for this Thursday’s performance of Stockhausen’s KLANG at the Roundhouse. Vivienne Westwood will dress both the male and female players in a series of ‘white’ ensembles from her Gold and MAN Label collections. “The looks will evoke a feeling of past, present and future to draw the audience further into a time-scape.”
With a design record spanning over forty years, Vivienne Westwood, the designer and iconic British brand is recognised as one of the most influential fashion designers in the world today. At times thought provoking and always avant-garde, the Vivienne Westwood brand is more than about producing clothes and accessories – its three dimensional culture also captures the imagination, raising awareness and generating positive action. Westwood’s innovation and timelessness is something she shares with Stockhausen.
“Great Art is timeless, it’s a vision we can share at any time. It touches something essential in human nature, a common reference ground for our imagination and aesthetic sense.” - Vivienne Westwood
LCO’s Imagined Occasions series presents three site-responsive performances in association with production and design team Helen Scarlett O’Neill and Harry Ross. The series seeks to engage its audience in a subtle participatory narrative, in which the audience are observers, creators, protagonists and the observed.
The performance will take place within Timepiece, a specially commissioned, large-scale light installation by leading British artist Conrad Shawcross, created in response to the Roundhouse’s iconic Main Space that will be on show for the month of August as part of the Bloomberg Summer at the Roundhouse. The programming of KLANG in response to Timepiece has in turn led Shawcross to synchronise the movements of the installation with the four musical ‘hours’.
Click here for more information and to buy tickets.
Photo: Mike Massaro
Thursday 15 August 2013
LCO team up with Sennheiser for second instalment of ‘Imagined Occasions’
LCO’s Imagined Occasions series continues next Thursday with a special collaboration with Sennheiser.
The performance will begin on Primrose Hill at sunset with a performance of Vivier’s Zipangu for 13 solo strings. Sennheiser will provide LSP 500 PRO wireless loudspeakers for the amplification of the work (a two-speaker set-up is specified by the composer). Audience members will then wear Sennheiser HD 218i headphones for a sound-walk from Primrose Hill to the Roundhouse for Stockhausen’s KLANG – Die 24 Stunden des Tages. The walk will be accompanied by the world premiere of Edmund Finnis’ electronic score Colour Field Painting, commissioned by the LCO.
“The headphones feature closed, supra-aural acoustics that effectively screen out surrounding noise so anyone can experience excellent bass-driven stereo sound. The headphones feature a smart in-line remote control with microphone and are extremely comfortable to wear with large cushioned ear pads that are individually adjustable for a secure and easy fit. Retailing at £59.99, audience members will be able to take the HD 218i home with them after the performance to enjoy full sound and dynamic bass reproduction wherever they go. HD 218i are fully compatible with latest generations of iPod, iPhone and the iPad.”
Edmund describes Colour Field Painting as “a musical clearing between two spaces… a shared listening experience, at once intimate and communal. [...] closely related spectra vibrate against each other, sustained frequencies overlap, gently surging and fusing in duet with the evening hum of the city.”
Tickets have sold out for the Primrose Hill part of the evening, but please keep an eye on our Twitter page for any last-minute return announcements. There are still tickets available for KLANG at the Roundhouse, part of Bloomberg Summer at the Roundhouse – Conrad Shawcross ‘Timepiece 2013’. Click here to buy tickets.
Edmund Finnis appointed LCO’s new Composer-in-Association
We are pleased to announce Edmund Finnis as the LCO’s new Composer-in-Association. Edmund has written music for the London Symphony Orchestra, Spitalfields Music and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, amongst others. He studied with Julian Anderson and Rozalie Hirs, and worked as an amanuensis for the late Jonathan Harvey. In November 2012, Edmund was named as a recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists.
Edmund’s first work for the LCO will form part of the second Imagined Occasions performance, taking place at Primrose Hill and the Roundhouse on Thursday 22 August.
Friday 24 May – Aldwych Underground
Thursday 22 August – Primrose Hill / Roundhouse
Thursday 3 October – Oval Space
LCO’s Imagined Occasions Series presents three site-responsive, immersive performances focusing on the music of Claude Vivier (1948–1983). The series seeks to engage the audience in a participatory narrative, in which the audience are observers, creators, protagonists and the observed.
The series begins in the abandoned Aldwych Underground station in May with a performance of Vivier’s Glaubst du an die Unsterblichkeit der Seele (‘Do You Believe in the Immortality of the Soul?’), his last, unfinished work: a dramatised monologue in which Vivier describes a journey on the Paris Metro during which he becomes attracted to a young man. The programme also features works by Jonathan Harvey, Cage, Philippe Manoury, Feldman, a new commission from Gregor Riddell, and a screening of the Brothers Quay’s collaboration with Stockhausen, In Absentia.
August’s performance at the Roundhouse continues with Stockhausen and a number of works from his epic KLANG – Die 24 Stunden des Tages (‘Sound – The 24 Hours of the Day’), a cycle of compositions each representing one hour of the day. The evening will be prefaced with a performance on Primrose Hill at sunset of Vivier’s Zipangu, referencing the island that Kubla Khan sought to conquer, and to which the composer represented “the symbol of immeasurable wealth, lying just out of reach”. A sound-walk from Primrose Hill to the Roundhouse will be accompanied by an electro-acoustic score from Edmund Finnis.
The concluding programme takes place at Oval Space in October with performances in the venue itself and outside in the surrounding derelict structures. The concert includes the final world premiere in the series, from Alastair Putt, alongside works by Varèse, George Benjamin, Thomas Adès and Pousseur, as well as a new film commissioned to accompany Vivier’s Variation I for electronics.
Click here for more information and to book tickets.
LCO’s strings feature on Foals’s third album Holy Fire. Produced by Flood and Alan Moulder (U2, The Killers, PJ Harvey), Holy Fire includes the single Inhaler, currently nominated for Best Track at the NME Awards 2013.
Click here to preview and buy the album from the iTunes Store.
“Holy Fire brings new words to mind. Sharp. Emotive. Massive.” — NME
“On this voodoo-inspired record of unfettered ambition, Foals have achieved a rare magic.” — Q Magazine
LCO record Jonny Greenwood score for Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘The Master’
LCO feature on Jonny Greenwood’s soundtrack to Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film The Master (starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams). The soundtrack will be released on Tuesday 11 September on Nonesuch Records with the UK cinema release scheduled for Friday 9 November.
This is the second Paul Thomas Anderson film that Jonny Greenwood has scored. Their previous collaboration, the critically praised soundtrack for 2007’s Academy Award–winning There Will Be Blood.
Pre-orders of The Master soundtrack are available now from the Nonesuch Store and include an instant download of Greenwood’s Application 45 Version 1 from the album.
LCO closes Southbank Centre’s Meltdown Festival with William Basinski’s ‘The Disintegration Loops’
Sunday 12 August, 8pm
Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London
The story of William Basinski’s acclaimed album The Disintegration Loops is as harrowing as it is poignant. The record consists of ambient and electronic producer Basinski’s attempts to transfer his earlier work, recorded on magnetic reel-to-reel tape, into digital format. However, the tapes had deteriorated so much over the years, that the process had almost produced an entirely different sound.
Basinski completed the recording on the morning of 11 September 2001, as New York City came under terrorist attack. As he and his friends sat on his roof in Brooklyn, they listened to The Disintegration Loops and filmed the twin towers of the World Trade Center fall to the ground. A still from the video was used as the cover art for the album. Upon release, Pitchfork gave the record 9.4 out of 10, one of the highest scores ever given by the site.
This unique performance presents a symphonic reinterpretation of the piece, the European premiere of 1.1, and 2.1 is performed for the first time anywhere in the world.
Musician / visual artist Antony is this year’s Meltdown director.
Click here for more information and to book tickets.
Sarah Strang’s ‘Dixon Clark Court Symphony’ at Union Chapel
Thursday 21 June, 7pm
Union Chapel, London
The Dixon Clark Court Symphony is a site-specific sound installation with a 165 sounds identified, collected and curated from the neighbouring Islington towers of Dixon Clark Court and Union Chapel to be heard within the hidden spaces of Union Chapel.
An acoustic urban soundscape arranged by Sarah Strang, composed by Nathaniel Robin Mann and Daniel Merrill with live performance by the London Contemporary Orchestra.
Click here for more information and to book tickets.
The Sunday Times reviews Reverb 2012 at the Roundhouse
Paul Driver, The Sunday Times
Sunday 11 March 2012
I was intrigued by the little website video trailing this year’s Reverb festival at the Roundhouse, in Camden. Participants such as the singer Imogen Heap, the conductor Hugh Brunt, the composer Gabriel Prokofiev, and the DJ Richard Lannoy gave their halfpennyworth, the gist being that classical concert-going, with its rigidly seated, unbibulous, theoretically silent audience, needs a kick in a certain place. The Roundhouse, once a shed in which trains turned around, and hence, as Heap points out, already imbued with a quasi-musical “movement”, is seen as a clean-slate, culturally neutral but reliably atmosphere and electric.
They don’t mention that the place has its own tradition in this respect. From the 1960s to the early 1980s, it was the cool base for much adventurous, fundamentally classical music-making, notably the BBC Symphony Orchestra concerts conducted and explicated by Pierre Boulez. The Reverb concert I attended, by the London Contemporary Orchestra under Brunt, struck me as quite an admirable return to this territory, without the discussion element, but with a new element of discreet clubbing.
Although Lannoy scoffs at the idea of asking someone not to talk when the music is playing, and I expected distractions to be rife, I was amazed to find the audience more manifestly attentive than practically any I’ve been in recently. As soon as the performance started, a sort of reverent rapture seemed to descend on the 1,000-odd souls, some at cabaret tables, some in the galleries, but a great crowd standing. The Roundhouse is far bigger inside than it looks from the street – as big, almost, at the Albert Hall – and the disposition of platform and audience, the lack of clutter between the columns, revealed the place in its full rotary splendour. The occasion was, indeed, very like a BBC Prom, and made one feel that that institution should reclaim the space forthwith. Late-night Proms here would be as though the Albert Hall, gone modular, had merely been adjusted slightly, with a funkier approach to lighting.
Club light provided a lurid yet never irritating backdrop for the youthful, remarkably large orchestra in the smokily darkened hall. When it began the first item, Xenakis’s eight-minute, rawly and grandly dissonant Metastasis, I felt that music had gained a new excitement out of the blue. Gabriel Prokofiev’s Concerto for Bass Drum and Orchestra, receiving its European premiere with a doughty soloist in Joby Burgess, certainly showed there’s a lot one can do with, and to, such an instrument, here slung on a serious wrought-iron frame; and the accompaniment had a pleasant, mostly motoric efficiency. He wanted, he says in the video, to reflect the prevalence in everyday life of those kick-drum thuds one hears coming out of cars and house everywhere; but Thomas Adès did this more subtly 15 years ago in Asyla.
Claude Vivier’s exotically coloured, large-orchestral Orion, dating from 1979 and a piece on the cusp between Messiaen’s manner and French “spectralism”, made a powerful statement. But best of all, for me, were the 10 minutes allocated to Stockhausen’s Elektronische Studie I. Emitted from giant speakers into the resounding dome, this quintessence of modernity (though created back in 1953) seemed to find its natural occasion here. The horizontal unfolding turns mysteriously into vertical space, as though one looked at a vast, planetarium-like picture, and there is no sense of ending.
Electronic music of another sort – DJ sets by Lannoy, then Prokofiev – filled the intervals, and a good time was surely had by all. It was striking that these were not the usual faces seen at many a modern-music event, but satisfying that what was on offer shouldn’t, after all, be so far removed from standard classical procedure: the overture-concerto-symphony pattern that may be a kind of archetype, unsupplantable but beautiful.
The Independent: Reverb Festival and the quiet evolution of live classical music
Wednesday 22 February 2012
London’s classical music scene is changing before our eyes. Over the last five to ten years a whole host of ambitious start-ups have emerged across the capital.
Ensembles like the Aurora Orchestra and the London Contemporary Orchestra (LCO) are stuffed with talented young players and perform challenging music. A grassroots opera community populated by OperaUpClose, Go Opera and the Grimeborn Festival at the Arcola Theatre operates alongside alternative classical music promotions. This year the Yellow Lounge will be joining the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s Night Shift, Nonclassical and Limelight. In a recent of review of music by Gabriel Prokofiev – composer, DJ and founder of Nonclassical – the New York Times referred to this scene, somewhat predictably, as ‘alt-classical’.
A festival conceived around the artistic activities of this new guard opens at the Roundhouse in Camden this weekend. Reverb Festival, a five-concert series exploring themes of love and truce, will be headlined by the leading lights of the ‘alt-classical’ (oh dear, I used it) movement, including the OAE Night Shift, Aurora, the LCO (pictured above with conductor Hugh Brunt) and Prokofiev. For its debut in 2010, Reverb drew in a decent crowd and, given the popularity of these groups and some interesting programming, this edition of the festival should do even better.
Reverb’s probable success, indeed its existence at all, signals a shift in the complexion of live classical music in London. Recognising that punters want to be challenged in the concert hall, as in the art gallery or the theatre, promoters have ditched safe educative programming in favour of innovation. The never-ending pursuit of young audiences now coalesces around cross art-form collaboration, informality and artistic boldness – characteristics that groups like Aurora, LCO and Nonclassical specialise in.
The big beasts of classical music, meanwhile, can’t afford to stand still even though the market is strong. From the top symphony orchestras to the leading venues, live classical music (even the sonically challenging contemporary kind) is, by all accounts, doing pretty well. But senior artists and administrators will no doubt be watching the march of the Young Turks. Whether it’s being able to take a pint into a concert or the expectation that artists are going to present their set as well as perform it, young ensembles, classical club nights and pop-up opera companies are moving the goalposts for what is expected of live classical music.
And in the main, they are doing so without much in the way of public money. In a report on arts funding in this week’s edition of The Economist, the magazine notes that: “After years of generous funding, many theatres and dance troupes are better placed to face adversity than before. The cuts will leave some groups crippled but most in fighting form, particularly those that are soundly run.” That environment should help small tightly-run organisations successfully apply for funding. After all, today’s classical music start-ups will soon become institutions that seem like they’ve been around forever. My money is on many of the Reverb generation to make that leap.
LCO at Spitalfields Music Winter Festival concert receives ★★★★ from The Times and The Telegraph
Richard Morrison, The Times
Wednesday 14 December 2011
Some people can’t see a mountain without wanting to climb it. The players of Hugh Brunt’s terrific London Contemporary Orchestra give me a similar impression: that they are game for any avant-garde musical challenge, the tougher and craggier the better.
Opening what looks like being ten days of dizzying eclecticism at the Spitalfields Music Winter Festival in East London, the young players tackled not one daunting mountain but three — the second never scaled before. This was Martin Suckling’s Violin Concerto, commissioned by London Music Masters (via an ingenious “buy a bar” fundraising campaign) for the fine Polish fiddler Agata Szymczewska, who tore into its fiendish challenges with huge energy and technical resource. The piece is titled De sol y grana — a reference to a Machado poem in which the poet compares his songs to bubbles glinting scarlet in the sunlight. Here the bubbles become musical segments, nine of them, some languorous or even lugubrious, others violently eruptive.
Rather than being the dominant force, the soloist is first among equals, fizzing in and out of weirdly imagined string and wind textures that are sometimes soured by quarter-tones. Disconcertingly, Suckling is fond of piling up disparate ideas or layers, then moving on. Yet, under trills or quivering oscillations from the soloist, the strands are finally gathered into a superb finish: a birdsong-like crescendo of ecstasy.
There was more virtuosity later, in Gérard Grisey’s magnum opus Vortex Temporum. A spectral-music pioneer who died in 1998, Grisey wasn’t the best advocate of his own pieces. It’s wisest to ignore his programme notes, with their mind-numbing references to “stretched disharmonics” and “sinusoidal waves” and simply let the music — volcanic, clangorous, hypnotic, nightmarish or eerie — assail or seduce you. The pianist Antoine Françoise, required to deliver fistfuls of notes (or sometimes simply to slam his fists on the keys) was rightly acclaimed at the end. But under Brunt’s immaculate direction the entire ensemble was heroic.
And I am delighted, too, that this rising new generation is rediscovering the soundworld of Claude Vivier. His Bali-inspired Pulau Dewata — hard, percussive, jangling refrains organised according to ancient modes — was a reminder of what a genius the world lost when the Canadian was brutally murdered in 1983 at the age of 34.
Hugo Shirley, The Telegraph
Tuesday 13 December 2011
There might have been mince pies in the interval of the first evening concert of the 10-day Spitalfields Music Winter Festival, but there was nothing cosy about this bracing programme of music in Shoreditch Church by Claude Vivier, Martin Suckling and Gérard Grisey, performed by the fiercely bright young things of the London Contemporary Orchestra under conductor Hugh Brunt.
Suckling’s de sol y grana, a violin concerto commissioned by the music charity London Music Masters, was here receiving its first performance. It was inspired by Antonio Machado’s poem, in which songs become bubbles, floating away on delicate, short-lived trajectories, refracting colours as they go. It’s a delicate little conceit, but one that gives little hint of the sometimes forceful nature of the work.
Its opening section was tautly controlled and powerful, soloist Agata Szymczewska dispatching volleys of notes with concentrated virtuosity against a feverish orchestral backdrop.
The technique and imagination on show throughout Suckling’s score was enormously impressive, but the piece was most memorable in the later sections. An elegiac strings-only passage, played in heavy, long bows, made way for a brief, unexpectedly moving duet, Szymczewska’s trills flitting playfully above a melancholy bass flute line. A tense build-up, with the violin increasingly insistent, led to the work’s throwaway conclusion – a final bubble gently popping, one imagined.
Suckling’s new work seemed a great deal more composerly than the other works on the programme. But it worked well after the rhythmic insistence of Vivier’s Bali-inspired Pulau Dewata, which, scored for “variable ensemble”, was here shared between violin, cello, percussion and piano. Brunt drove the rhythms hard, and the vibraphone-and-piano textures often seemed more reminiscent of urban frenzy than an exotic island. Leavened by occasional lyricism, though, Vivier’s recurrent patterns were hypnotic but never numbing.
The arpeggios of Grisey’s remarkable Vortex Temporum swirled hypnotically after the interval, too, but the Frenchman also allows himself daring amounts of time and space in this longer work. There’s a formidable solo for the subtly detuned piano (dealt with magnificently by Antoine Françoise), as well as clock-stopping spectral experimentation elsewhere. Brunt controlled it all brilliantly, and his players excelled themselves.
LCO to perform works by Gabriel Prokofiev and Jonny Greenwood at the Roundhouse’s Reverb 2012
Saturday 3 March 2012, 7pm
The Roundhouse presents Reverb 2012, celebrating a new generation of performers who have broken out of ‘traditional’ classical concerts, redefined the rules and shattered boundaries.
On Saturday 3 March, the LCO perform works by some of the 20th century’s most iconic composers including Xenakis’s Metastasis and Vivier‘s Orion. This is set alongside Doghouse by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, a 20-minute orchestral work forming part of the composer’s film score to Norwegian Wood; and the European premiere of Gabriel Prokofiev’s Concerto for Bass Drum and Orchestra, with soloist Joby Burgess.
Throughout the evening, Nonclassical presents DJ sets from Richard Lannoy and Gabriel Prokofiev, featuring the latest from the label and live sets by soloists from the LCO and Roundhouse Music Collective, bringing the unique atmosphere of their classical club nights to the Roundhouse.
Click here for more information and to book tickets.
Photos from Ron Arad’s ‘Curtain Call’ at the Roundhouse
Thank you to Bruce Atherton and Jana Chiellino for these shots of our Curtain Call rehearsals/performance at the Roundhouse last month. We’ll upload the full set soon… In the meantime, see more of Bruce and Jana’s work here.
Thursday 8 September 2011
LCO return to Spitalfields to perform new work by Martin Suckling
We are very excited to be returning to Spitalfields Music on Monday 12 December for their Winter Festival. A new violin concerto by Martin Suckling for Agata Szymczewska and the LCO forms the centrepiece of the programme, alongside Vivier’s Pulau Dewata and Grisey’s Vortex Temporum. The commissioning of Martin’s work has been made possible by London Music Masters and their phenomenally successful ‘Buy a Bar’ campaign.
In the run-up to the performance, the LCO will be collaborating with LMM on their music education programme, the Bridge Project. Working with Agata, Martin and players from the LCO, up to 70 children will create and perform their own pieces inspired by Martin’s composition. They will also have the opportunity to hear the commissioned piece in rehearsal ahead of the premiere.
Click here for more information and to book tickets.
Thursday 25 August 2011
Royal Opera House: Deloitte Ignite 2011 – Mike Figgis’s Just Tell The Truth
Sunday 4 September, 5pm Royal Opera House, London (Paul Hamlyn Hall)
Deloitte Ignite returns for its fourth year with a contemporary arts festival curated by internationally renowned director Mike Figgis. Joining Mike Figgis at the festival will be esteemed individuals from a wide vista of art forms and society – Dance, Film, Philosophy, Performance Art, Fashion, Photography and Politics.
LCO, conducted by Hugh Brunt, will perform alongside legendary saxophonist Peter King, Phil Minton’s Feral Choir and the People Band.
Mike Figgis said “When I was asked to curate ‘Ignite’ it was clear to me that I should use the opportunity to share my own ideas with a wide group of contributors and try to create an environment where all the ideas could be aired under the loose heading of Just Tell The Truth.”
Click here for more information and to book free tickets.
Wednesday 29 June 2011
LCO perform Birtwistle and Stravinsky at the former Commonwealth Institute
Friday 15 July, 7.30pm
Commonwealth Institute Building, London
A one-off, site-responsive theatre experience at the former Commonwealth Institute. Common Sounds: Touching the Void will be the only major artistic event to be staged in the space since it closed in 2002. Produced by Fruit for the Apocalypse, LCO players will collaborate with creatives from the Rambert Dance Company and Opera Holland Park.
Click here for more information and to book tickets.
LCO invited to perform as part of Ron Arad’s ‘Curtain Call’ at the Roundhouse
Tuesday 23 August, 7.30pm
As part of Bloomberg Summer at the Roundhouse, internationally renowned artist, architect and designer, Ron Arad has invited his favourite musicians and friends to create unique work for his 360° interactive installation.
Ron Arad’s constant experimentation with materials and his radical approach to form and structure have put him at the forefront of contemporary design. For Curtain Call, he has responded to the Roundhouse’s spectacular Main Space by creating a curtain made of 5,600 silicon rods, suspended from an 18 metre diamater ring – a canvas for films, live performance and audience interaction.
LCO’s performance explores 20th-century repertoire for strings, interspersed with a selection of Thomas Tallis’ choral masterpieces. As Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia takes Tallis as his inspiration, so John Woolrich looks to Monteverdi in Ulysses Awakes. The programme is completed by two contrasting minimalist incarnations: John Adams’ Shaker Loops and Arvo Pärt’s elegy to Britten, whose funeral bell tolls throughout the work.
Friday 13 May 2011, 7.30pm
The Old Vic Tunnels, Waterloo
Performing for the first time, LCO Soloists showcase new works by Jonathan Cole and Colin Alexander commissioned specially for the labyrinthine spaces of The Old Vic Tunnels. Catch by Thomas Adès, Morton Feldman’s The Violin in My Life 2 and works by Xenakis, John Woolrich and Laurence Crane, complete the programme, with experimental DJs Micachu and Shiva Feshareki leading the aftershow.
Belle and Sebastian & LCO: The Guardian review ★★★★
Tuesday 7 December 2010
Belle and Sebastian used to play so quietly that a rustling crisp packet could be louder than the band, perhaps because they wished to avoid the aural havoc that cranked-up rock PA systems could wreak on their painstaking creations. How they must have fantasised about gigs like this. Augmenting the band’s usual violin, trumpet and recorder combination, the London Contemporary Orchestra are on hand to give their songs the kind of backing they deserve, while the soundsystem is so clear you can hear singer Stuart Murdoch’s titters even with everything at hefty volume.
The Glasgow combo have been called “the Smiths for the generation that came after Morrissey and Marr”. However, the lush orchestral backing underlines how much their songs are informed by older, classic pop: the mix of guitar twangs, shuffling grooves, parping brass and sumptuous strings sounding like a glorious mix of Bob Dylan, Donovan, the Velvet Underground, Abba, Burt Bacharach and Motown, with a bit of Mozart.
Murdoch, meanwhile, is modern pop’s answer to Philip Larkin. Alternately pithy and profound, he sings of the rubbishness of life but the even greater rubbishness of dying, mixing sensitivity with sauce. The Fox in the Snow (restored to the set for climatic reasons) is a straightforwardly emotional song about a creature struggling to feed itself in the cold. But if their fey, shrinking-violet reputation ever was justified, it should have surely been demolished by the likes of If You’re Feeling Sinister, which finds the dapper, scarf-wearing Scotsman singing of a girl into S&M and Bible studies, who finds her interests taken advantage of when “the vicar, or whatever, took her to one side and gave her confirmation”.
A wonderful gig sees the once archetypal indie cool band unexpectedly become all-round entertainers, as classical pop nestles alongside comedy, theatre and audience participation. Murdoch runs around the crowd and gets a lady in the audience to apply mascara to his face, mid-song, to illustrate a lyric. Meanwhile, the absorbing set rollercoasts from new classic I Didn’t See It Coming to the perennial The Boy with the Arab Strap, a sublime anthem referencing a sexual device for maintaining an erection. As the orchestra claps along, Murdoch invites crowd members to dance on stage and gives each a medal reading, “I made it with Belle and Sebastian.” With perfect comic timing, he adds, “Not in a rude way, you understand.”
Click here to listen to Belle and Sebastian talking to Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie about the LCO on BBC Radio 2 (available for 7 days).
As part of BBC Radio 3’s focus on the British Composer Awards 2010, an extract from Shiva Feshareki’s TTKonzert (recorded live by the LCO at the Roundhouse earlier this year) features on this week’s Hear and Now show, presented by Tom Service. Click here to ‘listen again’ on BBC iPlayer (available for 7 days).
TTKonzert is shortlisted in the Sonic Arts category. The winners will be announced at the British Composer Awards on Tuesday 30 November at Stationers’ Hall, London. In association with BBC Radio 3 the event will be broadcast as part of Performance on 3 on Wednesday 1 December, 7.00pm.
Reviews of LCO’s Frank Zappa performance at the Roundhouse
Ivan Hewett, Daily Telegraph
Wednesday 10 November 2010
“With the evening’s main event, a performance of Zappa’s orchestral album The Yellow Shark, the orchestra and its conductor, Hugh Brunt, came alive. This medley of pieces for a large, hard-edged, brass- and percussion-heavy ensemble was originally made by Zappa for the crack German Ensemble Modern. Much of the material was originally created on a digital keyboard, and has fearsomely complex rhythms. But Zappa insisted on what he called “style”, a personal imprint, as well as hair-trigger accuracy.
Some players impressed on both counts. Oboist Anna Turmeau produced a heroically big sound on the track Times Beach II, and pianists Antoine Françoise and Chris Hopkins made the Stockhausen-like musings of Ruth is Sleeping seem purposeful and musical. The hugely difficult modernist sections, such as Questi Cazzi di Piccione, were impressively carried off, and the more satirical sections, such as Be-Bop Tango, had plenty of snarl and swagger.”
Steve Lomas, Classical Source
Friday 12 November 2010
“The glistening curlicues and tendrils of the Boulez homage The Girl in the Magnesium Dress were quite overwhelming in their cumulative effect. Gentle amplification brought out the inner workings of the wind and string quintet segments, including a blistering Questi Cazzi di Piccione which easily trumped Ensemble Modern’s version in its sheer unreasonableness. The committed direction of LCO artistic director and principal conductor Hugh Brunt drew dynamic performances throughout from the mainly young players and the closing G-Spot Tornado brought the house down, as intended.”
LCO perform UK premiere of Frank Zappa’s ‘The Yellow Shark’ at the Roundhouse
Friday 5 November 2010, 7.30pm
The Yellow Shark, the last album to be released before Zappa’s death in 1993, is a collection of compilations written for chamber orchestra including G-Spot Tornado, Dog Breath Variations, Get Whitey and Be-Bop Tango. This is a unique opportunity to hear all the available transcribed works in one performance from the LCO conducted by Hugh Brunt, under the watchful eye of Ali N. Askin, the arranger of the original Yellow Sharkrecording made by Ensemble Modern.
Gail Zappa makes a rare and much anticipated appearance to introduce this celebration of Frank Zappa’s amazing music and incredible influence on musicians from all genres. Gail will talk about the challenges and pleasures of being married to one of the 20th century’s most prolific and greatest composers. As a champion of copyright and licensing protection, and guardian of Frank Zappa’s legacy, Gail and The Zappa Family Trust have made possible the Roundhouse’s Frank Zappa – 70th Birthday Celebration.
Tickets: £10 – £25
Roundhouse Box Office: 0844 482 8008 Click here to book tickets
Thursday 5 August 2010
Official video for Foals’ ‘Spanish Sahara’ featuring LCO
Foals / London Contemporary Orchestra cond. Hugh Brunt
Director: Dave Ma
LCO perform Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’ at the Roundhouse
Sunday 10, Monday 11 & Tuesday 12 October 2010, 7pm
Metropolis, the cult 1927 German sci-fi classic has been reconstructed and restored, and will be screened in the Roundhouse’s Main Space with Gottfried Huppertz’s original soundtrack performed live by the LCO.
“With its dizzying depiction of a futuristic cityscape and an alluring female robot, Metropolis is the mother of sci-fi cinema (an influence on Blade Runner and Star Wars, among countless other films). Directed by the legendary Fritz Lang, its jaw-dropping production values, iconic imagery, and modernist grandeur remain as powerful as ever.”
Click here to watch the trailer and here to read more / book tickets.
LCO head north for UK tour with Belle and Sebastian
The Sage Gateshead Sunday 5 December Symphony Hall, Birmingham Monday 6 December O2 Apollo Manchester Tuesday 7 December
Following a successful collaboration with Belle and Sebastian at this year’s Latitude Festival performing to an audience of 30,000, the LCO will rejoin the band for a mini-tour in December, taking in The Sage Gateshead, O2 Apollo Manchester, and Symphony Hall, Birmingham. The project revives Belle and Sebastian’s acclaimed performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in 2006.
Click here for more information and to book tickets.
Imagine that you’re fairly short, wearing a long dress and holding a precious violin. Would you want to reach the raised performance platform by jumping? Full marks, then, to Charlotte Bonneton, a soloist in this Spitalfields Festival concert, for never coming a cropper – and for playing with such gusto, though that was a mark of everyone in the London Contemporary Orchestra, dedicated to the new, the recent, and the cross-cultural.
The culture crossed here was film, represented by the Brothers Quay, those unique purveyors of puppet animation puzzles bedecked with more vintage European angst, more decrepit dolls and gizmos, than is really good for sanity. We saw their masterly Street of Crocodiles from 1983, sprung from a story by the Polish writer Bruno Schulz.
The cries and whispers of Lech Jankowski’s score and Larry Sider’s sound design were expanded by a live string trio and piano. But the Quays’ imaginings took such a hold that the players’ haunting bits and bobs quickly sank into the general mix – the best artistic outcome possible. Even the funky venue seemed part of the film: part disused viaduct, part abandoned warehouse, with four decommissioned Tube carriages perched on the roof.
More East European modernism arrived with the disjointed style games of Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso No 1. Bonneton and her violin colleague Daniel Pioro fiddled their fingers almost to the bone, while prepared piano, harpsichord and strings plinked out sad melodic fragments. The furious panache of the LCO’s performance, expertly channelled by the conductor Hugh Brunt, was overwhelming.
European surrealism vanished for the tremolos, buzzes, and flying melodies of Zipangu by the gifted French-Canadian composer Claude Vivier, who was murdered in Paris in 1983 at the age of 34. Frenzied patches suggested improvisation. But no: Brunt’s conducting of every bar, from the opening buzzing bass line to the sudden consonant end assertive, was graceful, just like the music. Wonderful.
LCO players join Foals for BBC live session at Glastonbury
Members from the LCO teamed up with Foals at Glastonbury on Friday to perform a special acoustic set for BBC 6 Music. Click here to watch Elspeth Hanson (violin/vocals), Rachel Parris (vocals) and Ric Elsworth (percussion) playing alongside the band on Spanish Sahara and their new single Miami. And click here to hear Yannis from Foals talking about the LCO to Zane Lowe on Radio 1 (51:00 mins).
LCO shortlisted for Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards 2010
We are very excited to announce that the LCO has been shortlisted for this year’s Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards, the UK’s most prestigious accolade for live classical music. The shortlist was announced live this afternoon on BBC Radio 3′s In Tune, with LCO receiving a nomination in the Audience Development category – for an imaginative project, designed to inspire and develop a new audience for live classical music-making. Click here to ‘listen again’ to today’s In Tune on BBC iPlayer (1:38.25).
The awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday 11 May at The Dorchester, hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenters Sean Rafferty and Sara Mohr-Pietsch, with awards presented by Sir John Tomlinson. This year’s keynote speech will be made by Turner Prize winner, Grayson Perry. Click here for full details, and here to download the official RPS Music Awards press release.
Tuesday 30 March 2010
LCO to play Latitude Festival
In association with Aldeburgh Music’s ‘Faster Than Sound’, the LCO makes its debut appearance at Latitude on Friday 16 July. LCO will collaborate with a number of groundbreaking composers and sonic artists including self-confessed ‘extreme sound freak’ Simon Fisher Turner, Mira Calix and Larry Goves, with supporting visuals from Quayola. The set also features works from John Woolrich, Claude Vivier and John Adams, conducted by Hugh Brunt. Headliners for the festival include Florence & The Machine, Belle and Sebastian and Vampire Weekend.
“Young, free and singularly special. Watch out London Sinfonietta and Nash Ensemble – there’s a new kid on the block.”
Ivan Hewett, Daily Telegraph Tuesday 26 January 2010
Watch out London Sinfonietta and Nash Ensemble – there’s a new kid on the block. It’s the London Contemporary Orchestra, young, keen as mustard, and able to field extravagantly large numbers of players to tackle determinedly left-field programmes - with a bit of help from Facebook and Twitter, which facilitated a last-minute appeal for extra players for John Cage’s last piece Seventy-Four, which needs 74 players.
The smiling musical anarchist Cage died in 1992, which, I imagine, is before some of those players on the Roundhouse stage were born. The audience seemed much the same. So what drew them in such amazing numbers? The ambience of the Roundhouse certainly helps, with its screens above with close-up views of the players, and the whole domed space swimming in psychedelic red and blue light.
But it was surely the programme that worked the magic. It was a brilliantly contrived mix that delivered coolness, daring experimentalism, classic high-seriousness and cosmic spiritualism, all at once. The spiritual bit came first, in the form of Shhoctavoski, by Geir Jenssen, the Norwegian creator of arctic ambient…