As lockdown eases some of us are scrambling to get our (socially distanced) cultural fix. From online concerts, to live music and exhibitions, there’s something for everyone to engage in. See below for a few of my suggestions.
The VOCES8 Foundation is launching ‘Live from London’ – a series of online concerts featuring some of the world’s leading vocal groups – running each Saturday for the next 8 weeks and recorded live from Gresham Street, EC2.
The concerts will be broadcast live and available On Demand with all ticket sales going to support the artists, arts organisations globally and music education for students across the UK (including boroughs bordering the City of London).
At the time of writing, nearly 20,000 tickets have been sold for this online festival. Tickets will be on sale to view all the season concerts until 3rd October.
Culture Mile is the City of London’s cultural district, stretching from Farringdon to Moorgate, Led by the City of London Corporation, with the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of London. Together, the five partners are creating a vibrant, creative area in the north-west corner of the Square Mile.
This month’s highlights include:
- Culture Mile Play Packs
Culture Mile have created a series of Play Packs for families to play together creatively over the summer. From making your own Roman Temple in your living room to recreating the River Thames out of all the blue things in your house, the packs are about having fun together, with minimal equipment needed! 5000 packs are being distributed to community centres and food banks across the City of London and neighbouring boroughs, but can also be downloaded at
The Barbican reopened its Art Gallery and Conservatory on Monday 13 July, with the critically acclaimed exhibition Masculinities: Liberation through Photography, now extended until 23 August 2020. The reopening programme also includes an epic new installation A Countervailing Theory, exploring an imagined ancient myth, conceived by artist Toyin Ojih Odutola in the Curve Gallery, opening on Tuesday 11 August and a chance to explore the Barbican Conservatory. In line with government guidelines, new safety measures will include reduced capacity and timed entry slots, booked online in advance.
A digital programme of podcasts, playlists, films, videos, talks and articles is available alongside, including an online exhibition tour of Masculinities: Liberation through Photography and archive recording of the critically acclaimed 2013 production Barbican Britten: Curlew River. Walthamstow Garden Party In The Air is a free community-powered programme developed by the Barbican and local artists and organisations to encourage residents to get creative at home and channel the spirit of the festival.
- London Symphony Orchestra (LSO)
Live music returned to the concert hall this month as London Symphony Orchestra musicians play together in Summer Shorts. This new series of 30-minute, socially-distanced chamber concerts is livestreamed from LSO St Luke’s on Old Street, with opportunities to ask the musicians questions on social media and on YouTube.
I attended the first concert with an exhilarating programme performed by LSO violinists Maxine Kwok and Juliaࠤn Gil Rodriguez which included a world premiere written in Lockdown by Daniel Kidane called Dappled Light which was both evocative and impactful, capturing our collective feelings at this uncertain time.
- Guildhall School of Music & Drama
We Are Guildhall is a new section of Guildhall School’s website offering audiences the chance to enjoy performances, discussions and ideas from the School’s community and archives, all from home – from highlight concerts to inspiring conversations and outputs from students, staff and alumni.
This summer, Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s opera double bill was transformed from the physical to the digital stage, with the creative team and artists from across the School bringing the productions to life from their homes using digital technology.
A 20th-century reimagining of one of the earliest English operas Dido and Aeneas – Purcell’s tragic love story featuring the famous aria Dido’s Lament – was contrasted with Respighi’s La bella dormente nel bosco, a witty take on the Sleeping Beauty story.
All students, staff and guest artists worked from wherever they have been living during the lockdown, across at least 14 countries and four continents.
- Museum of London
The Museum of London reopened its doors on Thursday 6 August with The Clash: London Calling display extended until 6 September 2020, giving visitors an extra chance to celebrate the making of the band’s groundbreaking album and view over 150 items from The Clash’s personal archive, including notes, clothing, images and music, many of which are previously unseen. A new, exclusive audio tour of the display will also be live on the Smartify app, for those unable to see the exhibition in person. Using a selection of key objects from the band’s personal archive, this fascinating, 15-minute audio experience takes you behind-the-scenes of how the album was made. Full details around new opening times, free timed tickets and other safety measures that have been introduced can be found here.
Visit https://www.culturemile.london for more information
Fidelio Cafe has opened its doors to the first live series of concerts and what a line up and unique experience it has been. These world-class artists sharing such intimate music making accompanied by the most delicious culinary treats exclusively designed for each event by Alan Rosenthal. Steven Isserlis opened the series, Alina Ibragimova and Samson Tsoy wowed the crowd with Beethoven and Janacek, Pavel Kolesnikov performed Chopin, Louis Schwizgebel played Debussy and Mussorgsky, Simon Callow, Charles Owen add to the list of stars. Coming up on September 1st is the wonderful composer and pianist Huw Watkins performing with the celebrated violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen. Huw says, “I’m excited to be performing again so soon and can’t wait to share our music making with such an intimate audience in the heart of the square mile.”
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