London’s many classical music venues regularly offer free concerts or performances where a small donation is required. Discover free classical concerts, opera and more with our regularly updated guide.
Free classical events in London this week
Last year, Ryoji Ikeda Darth Vader-ed the bejesus out of London’s night sky. ‘Spectra’, the Japanese artist’s beam of light which scorched the skyline as part of the WWI centenary, became one of the most talked-about artworks of 2014. It’s a tough act to follow – and you wouldn’t think that filling the top floor of a car park with an installation based on particle physics would come close, but it really does. ‘Supersymmetry’ is inspired by Ikeda’s time as artist-in-residence at CERN, the Swiss supercollider that is smashing particles into each other in the hope of answering some of the questions posed by modern physics. But you don’t need a degree in quantum mechanics to enjoy what Ikeda has created. The first room is pitch-black, and dotted with waist-height light boxes covered in tiny ball bearings. They tilt and swivel, sending the balls flying across their surfaces like a flock of mechanical starlings. The light boxes strobe and pulsate. More lights flicker from the other room. As you walk through, you find a long corridor lined with a bank of monitors. Beams of light dash across them, graphs of data appear and disappear at speed, and speakers beneath them squeal and rumble. The images in this hallucinatory room veer between random computerised chaos (jumbled data, graphs and nonsensical sentences) and calm, spiralling visions of drifting dots. It’s like being stuck in a storm in a computer. But the main sensation is that of an impenetrable mass of information. FigureRead more
This is one slick show – quite literally. The gallery floor is so slippery that you have to tread carefully to keep from falling over as you make your way across a surface densely strewn with thousands of glossy, loose sheets of paper. Every page is identically printed on both sides with a photograph of footprints in mud. It’s a kind of conceptual joke by Jack Lavender. The young London artist is using images of real ground to create a wholly artificial surface. The shiny pages don’t retain any footprints, of course, but the way they slide around mimics mud’s slimy instability. This sort of playing with reproductions and ersatz versions is everywhere in this exhibition. A solitary wall assemblage features plastic bones and glass bunches of grapes affixed to a rusting iron support, while at the other end of the room crumpled sheets of steel contain imitation wooden branches and metal casts of onion rings. Gradually, the feeling you get is of the natural world being incorporated and commodified – until any feeling of naturalness is lost, and all that’s left is absurd, chintzy artifice. Of course, it’s hardly a revelatory idea that we’re all becoming increasingly alienated from nature. But Lavender is good at alluding to the anxieties beneath the bright veneer of contemporary culture, at hinting at a sense of loss. Leaning against a wall are several tall glass panels featuring abstract swirls and tracks of paint, while around the edges are little cartoon feet, like the comic bRead more
Including the works of Herbert Ponting, Slim Aarons and Thurston Hopkins, this show celebrates large-scale photographic prints. With the ability to seize the most microscopic as well as the most enormous aspects of life, photography continues to be awe-inspiring and what better way than magnifying the magnificence of this medium with truly monumental images.Read more
Unless you’ve always thought Disney’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was more real than they let on, it’s not normal to expect flowers to talk to you. But this enchanting pop-up isn’t normal either, so you can blabber on to the bulbs all you like this weekend. Four displays containing a total of 1,000 imitation tulips will be installed in Leicester Square Gardens, and the flowers will greet visitors in seven different languages, chatter away about the history of Leicester Square and even share some London tips. Hear about the museum of natural history which called Leicester Square its home from 1775-1786, discover how the square nearly got buried under an eighteenth-century opera house or see whether you can get your tongue around the Greek for ‘hello’. Sadly the tulips aren’t some of sort of genetically modified robot miracle – the babble is triggered by motion sensors – but that’s still some very inventive planting. The installation, which was commissioned by Heart of London Business Alliance in conjunction with Westminster City Council, is free to visit and open from dawn until dusk.Read more
Five talented comics – gutsy thinker Alfie Brown (pictured), optimistic worrier Pat Cahill, sharp-witted Danish stand-up Sofie Hagen, 'Newsjack' host Nish Kumar and the charming Jimmy McGhie – meet in Shepherds Bush to test brand new bits of material and see what works. And entry is free!Read more