Music festival guide
Summer is coming, so gear up for five months of fun, sun and mud with our ultimate music festival guide
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The Little Orchestra: London’s chillest classical music ensemble
For anyone who has ever found the atmosphere at a traditional classical concert ever so slightly stifling and buttoned-up, an alternative is at hand. The Little Orchestra has been operating since 2013, aiming to make listening to great classical music a much more relaxed experience. For starters, traditional concert halls are eschewed in favour more ad hoc venues – such as Hackney’s more clubby Oval Space and Hackney Town Hall, which plays host to TLO’s Valentine’s special this week. Seating is casually set up around the players, literally on the same level as their audience, meaning you’re only a bow’s length away from a cellist or an arm’s length from a timpani drum. On our visit, we spotted a host of things never seen before at a classical concert: sofas, a conductor on a bouncy swivel chair and people enjoying Mozart while swigging from a beer can. Speaking of drinks, though the bar remains open during the performance, it’s a good sign that it stays virtually deserted – punters are too engrossed by the rotating cast of players, largely pooled from some of London’s best colleges. Another refreshing tweak is that punters aren’t shooed away five minutes after the orchestra take their bows. At TLO shows, the venues stay open, a small jazz band plays and guests are encouraged to chat and mingle. It all works in TLO’s favour. There are still tickets left for their Valentine’s special, and they set up again at Oval Space on Jun 2 and 3. The Little Orchestra present A Little R
Watch Elton John do a surprise performance at St Pancras station
A photo posted by Yamaha Entertainment Group (@yamahaentertainmentgroup) on Feb 4, 2016 at 11:04am PST As a general rule, train stations are usually pretty boring places. Sure, you can people-watch and spend all your money on fancy train snacks from Pret, but then what? But if you were waiting for a train at St Pancras International yesterday then you might have been lucky enough to catch none other than Sir Elton John turn up for a surprise performance in the station. The gig was short and sweet, with Sir Elton giving a five-minute performance on a new piano he'd donated to the station. It's now open to the public, which means you can go and tickle the ivories too – even if all you can muster up is a one-handed rendition of 'Three Blind Mice'. Watch his performance: A photo posted by Elton John (@eltonjohn) on Feb 4, 2016 at 8:10am PST A photo posted by Luke Leighfield (@lukeleighfield) on Feb 5, 2016 at 3:08am PST In other great news, Sir Ian Mckellen is hosting bus tours of London.
You can hear Kanye West’s new album live… at the cinema
So Kanye West has a new album, and the first place you can hear it will be… your local Vue cinema. ‘Swish’ (EDIT: it’s called ‘Waves’ now) will be played at Madison Square Garden in New York on Thursday February 11, accompanied by a 90-minute performance by the Italian artist Vanessa Beecroft. The whole thing will be screened live at Vues across the UK – including London branches – for ‘music fans and Kanye enthusiasts alike’. (Is it mean to say that’s kind of unfortunate phrasing?) Oh, and it’s possible that we’ve also just discovered what the album art looks like. Tickets for Kanye West’s ‘Waves’ screenings are on sale now.
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The best classical concerts in London
Tenebrae: Poulenc, Durufle + more
Nigel Short directs Poulenc's Quatre Motets Pour Un Temps De Penitence, Salve Regina and Figure Humaine, Durufle's Quatre Motets De Severac -Tantum Ergo and Brumel's Lamentations of Jeremiah, alongside pieces by Messiaen and Perotin.
Total Immersion: The Music Of Louis Andriessen
Following on from Britten Sinfonia’s tribute to Dutch minimalist composer Louis Andriessen, BBC SO presents another of its day-long composer explorations. It culminates in an evening concert in which the orchestra under Clark Rundell plays the third part of Andriessen’s geometric-obsessed opera ‘De materie’ (1984-5), a suite from the surreal Spaghetti Western opera ‘ROSA, Death of a Composer’ (1994), ending with the UK premiere of orchestral piece ‘Mysterien’, inspired by the writings on Thomas à Kemplis. With Synergy Vocals and Fanny Alofs (speaker).
The Mozart Salons: Concert Two
The second of two concerts in which violinist Peter Sheppard Skӕrved (Kreutzer Quartet) explores Mozart’s sonatas with pianist Daniel-Ben Pienaar in the atmospheric Victorian music hall. On the bill are four Mozart sonatas for violin and piano, plus the London premiere of David Lancaster’s ‘Rough Cut’ (2015) for solo violin.
Shakespeare 400: Mendelssohn
The first of three concerts in which Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and his own Monteverdi Choir in concerts marking the four-hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. They begin with 15-year-old Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 1, then his later score for a production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
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