Category Archives: Music

A slice of Cuba in London with music, food, cocktails and more at Last Nights Of Havana

Last Nights of Havana

Cuba comes to London with the Last Nights of Havana

Autumn is officially arrived so the nights are longer and the temperatures are dropping. With winter fast approaching, wouldn’t it be lovely to jet off to warmer climes… in somewhere like Cuba for example? Well, if you can’t afford the time or airfare, this autumn and winter, a slice of Cuba is coming to London.

The distinctive tastes, sound and spirit of pre-revolution Cuba will be popping up at Tobacco Dock for a limited period. Launching at the re-imaginated Quayside Bar, Last Nights Of Havana will be an evening of tropical rum, food, jazz and dance. Running from 19 October 2018 until May 2019, this new experience will evoke memories of Cuba’s opulent heyday in the 1940s and 1950s. Imagine the glamour, Cadillacs, cigars and rum cocktails.

Upon arrival, guests will be toasted with a complimentary rum cocktail before entering the warm palm-filled tropical bar. Inside, the mixologists will create Cuba’s iconic drinks, such as Mojitos, Daiquiris and Cuba Libre at the large island bar. Andy Mil and Elliot Ball from the Cocktail Trading Company have devised the cocktail menu featuring contemporary twists on the Cuban classics featuring the full Bacardi portfolio. There will also be a full bar for those who fancy a drink other than rum. Meanwhile, when you’re feeling peckish, you can feast on Cuban street food and snacks.

Throughout the evening, you’ll be entertained with Cuban music and dancing with Cuban-born Musical Director Oreste ‘Sambroso’ Noda leading the nightly band. Expect sounds inspired by Cuban music combined with a contemporary London soundtrack. The band will play homage to the iconic melody of the Buena Vista Social Club. At the night progresses, the DJs take over with Latin-influenced beats and dancefloor classics.

Last Nights Of Havana aims to offer an alternative night out for Londoners, combining food, drink, music and dance. It’s suitable for couples’ date nights to birthday celebrations to work socials. There will also be rum-tasting masterclasses available every Saturday for those who want to expand their knowledge into the sugar cane spirit. Last Nights Of Havana will also be hosting a New Year’s Party for those who want to kick off 2019 with some Latin flavour.

  • Last Nights Of Havana, Quayside Bar, Tobacco Dock, Wapping Lane (Gate Entrance), Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. Runs from 8 October 2018 – May 2019. Open 5pm-12am. Tickets: £20 in 2018, £25 in 2019 (inc complimentary arrival cocktail). Masterclass: £60pp (include rum flight, special cocktail and discount towards evening event). For more information and tickets, visit lastnightsofhavana.com.

For a guide to what’s on in London in October, click here.

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Celebrate rock legends Queen at the Bohemian Rhapsody pop-up shop and exhibition

Carnaby Street - Bohemian Rhapsody
Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the mostly highly anticipated films this year. Named after the iconic hit single, the movie tells the story of Freddie Mercury and the band Queen in the lead up to Live Aid in 1985. Ahead of its release, the Carnaby district of London has teamed up with 20th Century Fox to create an immersive exhibition and light installation inspired by the rock legends.

For the art installation, fans of the band will see Freddie’s lyrics for one of the greatest rock songs of all time shining brightly over the pedestrianised shopping hub. Giant neon words will bring Queen’s 1975 song to life, including the opening: ‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?’, along with the iconic ‘Galileo’ and ‘Figaro’. The Queen crest – designed by Mercury – will also appear on Carnaby’s famous arches.

Meanwhile, a pop-up shop and exhibition will open on 18 October so fans can get even closer to the rock gods. There will be a showcase of photographs, prints, footage and costumes from the band. Official film merchandise and Queen-inspired products will also be available to buy. Visitors can also pose for a selfie with the official Madame Tussaud’s Freddie waxwork. Meanwhile, the shops, bars and restaurants of Carnaby will also be joining in with Queen inspired products and menus.

The light display, shop and exhibition are launching to coincide with the release of the Bohemian Rhapsody movie on 24 October. It stars Rami Malek as Freddie, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, Gwilym Lee as Brian May and Joe Mazzello as John Deacon.

  • Bohemian Rhapsody Pop Up Shop & Exhibition, 3 Carnaby Street, Soho, W1. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. Open from 18 October 2018 – January 2019. Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. For more information, visit the Carnaby website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in October, click here.

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Cabaret and circus collide as the Black Cat: Bohemia headlines Underbelly Southbank

© Black Cat Cabaret Bohemia

Black Cat: Bohemia opens at Underbelly Festival on 22 August

Coming to the Underbelly Festival Southbank for the end of the season is a tantalising and thrilling show. Combining cabaret, circus and performance in a dark and daring show from the Black Cat Cabaret. The company will be coming to the Spiegeltent to première their most ambitious show yet, Black Cat: Bohemia.

Opening on 22 August, the show will feature jaw-dropping acrobatics and toe-tapping music as the 12-strong troupe showcase their impressive skills. The production sees the smart and sexy cast bring the spirit of Bohemias past, from Montmartre to Weimar Berlin, from the Hotel Chelsea to the ’80s Blitz Kids, to the 21st century Southbank.

Among the dazzling performers will be flame-haired singer and host Miss Frisky (Frisky & Mannish); aerial daredevil Katharine Arnold; acrobatic duo Charlotte & Nicolas (Cirque du Soleil, Limbo); cyr wheel maestro Jo Moss; tumbler Leon Fagbemi (La Soirée); aerial feline LJ Marles; and burlesque goddess Missy Fatale.

  • The Black Cat Cabaret is performing Bohemia at the Underbelly Festival from 22 August – 30 September 2018. At Jubilee Gardens, Belvedere Road South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. Performances at 7.15pm (Tues-Sat) and 9.15pm (Sat only). Tickets from £19. For tickets and further information, visit the Black Cat Cabaret website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.

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Kylie and Madonna as you’ve never heard them before: Cabaret sensation Michael Griffiths comes to Live at Zedel

Michael Griffiths Kylie show Live at Zedel

Award-winning cabaret star Michael Griffiths brings his ‘Lucky: Songs By Kylie’ show to Live at Zedel

The songs of Kylie, Madonna and Cole Porter as you’ve never heard them before! Coming to London this summer is award-winning cabaret star Michael Griffiths. Following his sold-out performances at the Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar Room and this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the talented Aussie will be premiering his new show ‘Lucky: Songs by Kylie’ at Live at Zedel. From 30 August to 5 September, Michael will be performing ‘Lucky’, along with his two previously critically acclaimed shows, ‘In Vogue: Songs by Madonna’ and ‘Cole: Songs by Cole Porter’ at the intimate Crazy Coqs club.

His three shows are inspired by each artist, with songs and stories. Michael will showcase his Broadway voice while tinkling the ivories and regaling the audience with some classic tunes and funny anecdotes. Michael has already wowed audiences and critics across his native Australia, along with New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong, Auckland and the Edinburgh Fringe. Broadway Baby has hailed Michael as ‘obscenely talented’, while the Scotsman described his show as ‘a fittingly debonair tribute to an artist of grace and style’.

Crazy Coqs is an intimate vintage cabaret club in the Zédel building in Piccadilly. It serves a wide selection of drinks and small plates to fuel you while you’re entertained. The building encompasses Crazy Coqs, the Brasserie Zedel and Bar Américain, featuring the original Art Deco interiors designed by Oliver Percy Bernard in the 1930s.

  • Michael Griffiths will perform ‘Lucky: Songs by Kylie’ from 30 August – 2 September, ‘In Vogue: Songs By Madonna’ on 30 – 31 August and ‘Cole: Songs By Cole Porter’ on 4 – 5 September 2018. Live At Zedel takes place at Crazy Coqs, 20 Sherwood Street, Soho, W1F 7ED. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus. For more information and tickets, visit the Brasserie Zedel website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.

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Soundtrack takes over Seven Dials for a free festival of music, food and fun

© Seven Dials

Soundtrack is a new festival for Seven Dials
© Seven Dials

Coming to the West End this month is a brand new festival from the team behind Citadel. Seven Dials will be taken over by Soundtrack, a free one-day music festival. Revellers young and old will find plenty to entertain, including music, comedy, theatre and debates. All seven of the interconnecting streets will be closed to vehicle traffic for the day with a pop-up lawn surrounding the iconic dial. The free event is taking place to coincide with the Mayor of London’s ‘Sounds Like London’ campaign, which aims to celebrate the capital’s rich music heritage and talent.

Throughout the day, the open-air main stage in the centre of Seven Dials will host a variety of music acts, including London singer-songwriter Rukhsana Merrise, The Voice finalists Into The Ark, indie group Pumarosa and vintage-inspired rocker Ten Tonnes. Broadcaster and author Gemma Cairney will be hosting the action from 12pm-6pm. Meanwhile, funky choir Some Voices will be putting on flash mob performances around the area, while there will also be a free silent disco.

You can get into the festival spirit with The Gypsy Shrine on Monmouth Street, who will be offering free, eco-friendly glitter face painting all day. People can try their luck in an attempt to win festival tickets and more at the music-themed tombola, which raises money for charity partner Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust. When you’re feeling hungry, you can head to the many street food and alfresco dining options, including independent café BOKI, pop-up pizza and prosecco bar from the Escapologist and Portuguese eaterie Canela. Many of the area’s establishments and shops, such as Rosa’s Thai, Rossopomodoero, Duke & Dexter and Club Monaco will be offering 20% off all day. There will also be a pop-up superfood smoothie bar from Neals Yard Remedies and a pop-up cocktail bar from Monmouth Kitchen.

While the festival is free to attend, its recommended you register for your festival map and ticket at Seven Dials’ website. As a ticket holder, you can pick up a free Mint Julep cocktail from the Hawksmoor Seven Dials x Evan Williams pop up bar on Earlham Street.

  • Soundtrack takes place on 23 June 2018 from 12pm-6pm. At Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For more information and to register, visit the Seven Dials website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in June, click here.

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Celebrate the capital’s rich musical heritage at Soho Music Month 2018

Soho Music Month © Marc Sethi

Soho’s rich musical heritage is celebrated throughout Soho Music Month this June
© Marc Sethi

It’s June so that means summer is officially here! What better way to greet the best season (in most people’s opinion!) than a month-long celebration of the capital’s rich musical heritage. Taking over W1 this month is Soho Music Month, featuring a host of cultural events in venues across the area.

With 2018 being the centenary of women getting the right to vote, part of the festival will celebrate females in the industry. Independent label Market will be curating an all-female line-up, while female founders of independent labels will be taking over Berwick Street Market (16 June) selling their roster’s best vinyl. Meanwhile, three female DJs Xanthe Fuller, Sophie Callis and Cherrie Flava will be broadcasting live from the market on Soho Radio.

© Newburgh Quarter

Grab a bean bag or a spot on the ‘grass’ for the Newburgh Sessions

Throughout the festival, the hub and exhibition space Platform LDN will be opening its doors at 3 Carnaby Street. Daily throughout June, it will play host to a variety of free events, including a GRM Daily panel discussion, Reprezent Radio’s live broadcasts, book signings with DJ Jumping Jack Frost and DJ Target, of BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra fame. Check out the Carnaby website for listings and to register for a place on one of the sessions.

Every Thursday evening (5pm-9pm) in June, there will be a series of free outdoor gigs in the Newburgh Quarter. A pop-up stage will appear under ‘The Plug’ light installation on Ganton Street with a lawn and bean bags. Kicking things off on 7 June will be an all-female hip-hop DJ battle with Melody Kane, Emily Rawson, Ellie Prohan, Fearney and Sandra Omari. Following on 14 June will be Alex Tracey and his funk and indie pop-rhythms, presented by Stageside, a platform for unsigned, emerging or breaking artists from Instagram collective @London. On 21 June, will be a showcase of new talent from Platform LDN, NME Emerging and TuneCore. Closing the month on 28 June will be resident female DJs from NYC restaurant Dirty Bones, spinning old school hip-hop, R&B, funk and soul.

Throughout the month, there will be a host of musical events taking place in the streets, boutiques and restaurants of the area. Expect to see jazz sessions at The Duck & Rice, instore performance from Swedish singer-songwriter Natali Felicia at Sandqvist, ‘Bring Your Own Vinyl’ listening parties at Shinola and Campfire Music Sessions at Filson. There will be free guided walking tour on the music heritage of Carnaby and Soho. Meanwhile, Dirty Bones will be launching a limited-edition Doo Wop cocktail in homage to Lauryn Hill, as well as selling limited-edition Mac Daddy sliders, with a portion of the sales going to charity partner Youth Music.

For a guide to what else is on in London in June, click here.

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Feria de Londres 2018: The spirit of Andalusia comes to the South Bank

© Feria de Londres

Enjoy sherry tastings and summer cocktails with Tio Pepe at Feria de Londres this May Bank Holiday

Brits just can’t enough of Spanish culture, with an estimated 18million of us visiting the Mediterranean country last year. However, this May, you won’t have to wait until your holidays to sample the best of Spain’s entertainment and cuisine.

© Feria de Londres

Be entertained by traditional flamenco dancers
© Feria de Londres

The second May bank holiday will see Feria de Londres bringing the spirit of Andalusia to the capital. Bernie Spain Gardens on London’s picturesque South Bank will host a three-day long celebration of food, drink, music and dance. As you may know, Andalusia is one of the most popular regions of Spain, featuring resorts and cities such as Seville, Málaga, Marbella and Granada. Feria de Londres is inspired by southern Spain’s spring fairs, which date back to the Middle Ages.

During the festival, entertainers will dazzle in their striking, colourful traditional costumes as they sing, dance and play. Among the entertainment will be flamenco dancers, live bands and DJs. There will be the chance to show off your moves in Sevillana dance lessons to flamenco rhythm workshops. Meanwhile, families can get involved with child-friendly activities, such as face-painting, hair styling, arts and crafts.

Of course, no Spanish festival wouldn’t be complete without their fabulous cuisine. Visitors can tuck into delicious tapas, paella, Iberico ham and much more. Some of Spain’s top food experts and producers will be on hand, offering tastings and samples. When it comes to drink, the famous Tio Pepe will be hosting sherry masterclasses, as well as offering the traditional Andalusian cocktail, the Tio Pepe Rebujito. Guests can also enjoy a range of Spanish tipples, including Iberian beers and regional wines.

  • Feria de Londres takes place on 25-27 May 2018. At Bernie Spain Gardens, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars, Southwark, Waterloo East or Waterloo. Open Fri 25 4pm-9pm, Sat 26 12pm-9pm, Sun 27 12pm-8pm. Free entry. For more information, visit the Feria de Londres website.

For a guide to what’s on in London in May, click here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in March 2018

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Spring is in the air!

Spring is nearly here… allegedly! The temperatures will soon start creeping up, and the days are brighter and longer. Those who love to hibernate over the winter are finally waking up and ready to explore. This month you can expect to see a lot of art and beer events on around the capital. Not forgetting, Easter Weekend kicks off at the end of the month on Friday 30 March so there is yet more school holidays for parents to deal with.

For a guide to what’s on in London over Easter, click here.

  • 1 – 4 March : The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show

Haberdashery festival featuring workshops, knitworking, dressmaking studio, textile galleries, Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch and the Creative Living Theatre. Open 10am-7pm, Fri-Sat: 10am-5.30pm, Sun: 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults £13.50, Children £6. Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Knitting & Stitching Show website.

  • 1 – 4 March : Number 90’s 4th Birthday

Popular canalside destination are hosting a mini festival of sorts over four days to celebrate their fourth birthday. Including DJs, live painting sessions, vintage clothes stalls, film screenings, dance show, magician, live music, food and drink. DJs and artists include Norman Jay MBE, Haggis Horns, Toytown Hustle, Dila V & The Oddbeats and the Pop-Up Choir. Open Thu and Sun 12pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-1am. Free entry. Number 90 Bar and Kitchen, 90 Wallis Road, Hackney Wick, E9 5LN. Nearest station: Hackney Wick. For more information, visit Number 90’s website. Read Metro Girl’s blog post on the festival.

  • 1 – 8 March : International Women’s Day @ Seven Dials

A week of events, offers and promotions celebrating women at the stores and businesses of Seven Dials. Highlights include a panel discussion hosted by Gemma Cairney on IWD on 8 March. At venues and stores around Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website. Read Metro Girl’s blog post on the event.

  • 1 – 20 March : Richmond Upon Thames Music and Drama Festival

Three weeks of music, dance and drama performances by local artists, arts organisations and schools. The Music and Drama Festival Showcase will take place at The Exchange in Twickenham on 4 March at 3pm (Tickets: £5-£10). The rest of the festival takes place in various venues across the borough. For more information, visit the Richmond.gov.uk website.

  • 1 – 21 March : Pauline Bewick Art Exhibition

One of Ireland’s most acclaimed artists Pauline Bewick displays some of her huge collection as part of the St Patrick’s Festival. Open 9am-5pm. Free entry. City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, Borough, SE1 2AA. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the London.gov.uk website.

  • 1 March – 6 May : Somnai

Experience a live, multi-sensory experience with immersive technologies. Somnai is said to be the biggest theatrical event since Punch Drunk and offers a ‘lucid dreaming’ experience. Over 18s only. 90 minutes long. Times vary. Tickets: £50. 2 Pear Tree Street, Clerkenwell, EC1V 3SB. Nearest stations: Old Street, Barbican or Farringdon. For booking and more information, visit the Somnai website.

  • 2 – 3 March : Movie Nights at the Museum

Watch a film under Hope the whale in the Hintze Hall. Movies include Star Trek, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: A Force Awakens. Screenings at 7.15pm and 10.15pm. Tickets: £28. Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 2RL. Nearest station: South Kensington. For booking, visit the NHM website.

  • 3 March : Magic of India Holi Festival

Family friendly festival to celebrate the Hindu festival of Holi. Featuring dry colour powder play, DJs, drummers, giveaways, hot Indian food and more. 11am-3pm. Tickets: £12. Exact location to be revealed nearer the time. Nearest station: Swiss Cottage. For tickets, visit the Funzing website.

  • 3 March : RA Lates – Night at the Palace

Late night party at the Royal Academy of Arts inspired by their upcoming Charles I exhibition. The RA will be transformed into the King’s Whitehall Palace for dancing, feasts, art, music, immersive experiences and creative activities. Dress code: Courtly decadence. 7pm-11.45pm. Tickets: £25-£40. Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD. Nearest station: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the RA website.

  • Now until 4 March : Vault Festival

Six week arts festival in the tunnels beneath Waterloo across three venues. Entertainment includes live music, theatre, film, dance, comedy and late-night parties. Open Wed-Sun. Ticket prices vary. The Vaults, 10 Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo and Lambeth North. For booking, visit the Vault Festival website. To find out about this year’s highlights, click here, or for a review of Neverland, an immersive theatre show, click here.

  • Now until 4 March : Snow Kingdom – Backyard Cinema

Backyard Cinema have created a wintry immersive cinematic experience in the foodie surrounds of Mercato Metropolitano. Travel through an ice cave and across a frozen lake to watch new and classic films in the atmospheric Snow Kingdom. Tickets from £17. Backyard Cinema, 42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle. For booking, visit the Backyard Cinema website. For Metro Girl’s review, click here.

  • Now until 4 March : Ovo by Cirque du Soleil

The newest touring production from the Cirque, a spectacular exploration of the ecosystem, with insects working, playing, fighting and looking for love. Tickets range from £25-£231. Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP. Nearest stations: South Kensington, Knightsbridge or High Street Kensington. For more information and booking, visit the Cirque Du Soleil websiteRead the rest of this entry

Spring into spring with live music, DJs, entertainment and more at Number 90’s 4th birthday

© Number 90

Number 90 Bar & Kitchen are hosting a four-day festival to celebrate their 4th birthday

If you’re gagging for festival season already, why not get warmed up for the summer at Number 90 Bar & Kitchen’s 4th birthday party. The canalside venue in Hackney Wick is opening its doors for a four-day party. From 1-4 March, Number 90 will be hosting live music, DJs, interactive entertainment, and of course, its signature yummy food and drink offerings. Every day will have a different theme, offering a wide variety of activities and entertainment.

The festivities will commence on Thursday with an evening inspired by World Music Day. Guests will be entertained with a variety of different genres, from jazzy, funk and soul driven band, The Haggis Horns; to alt pop band, Toytown Hustle; to multinational gypsy folk group Dila V & The Oddbeats, among others. Meanwhile, fashion lovers will enjoy the vintage clothing stall, while budding artists can check out live painting sessions with Number Gallery artists, who will be creating murals throughout the weekend.

Friday evening will be celebrating womankind with Womb 2: Women Of Music Business led by Capital Xtra’s Coco Cole, festival mainstays My Bad Sister, local DJ duo Four Tit, rising star Loraine James, Aziza and SISU Crew. The event will celebrate women in music, art, fashion and business bringing together some of the most talented females from the dance and music industry. Expect female-focused film screenings, talks, DJ workshops and more.

The arrival of the weekend will see DJ legend Norman Jay headlining a block party, as Number 90 host a day bash on their canalside terrace on Saturday. Jay will be putting on two special performances, bringing his famous ‘Good Times’ to the party bus, before moving the revelry indoors until the early hours. As well as the dancing to the best tunes, revellers can win prizes in giant Piñatas, try to outwit a magician or sample the extensive cocktail menu. Joining Norman on the decks will be Backtobasics resident, Tristan da Cunha and Ron Basejam of Crazy P.

Finally, the four-day party will come to a chilled closing on Sunday with a range of live musical performances from The Pop-Up Choir, a live electronic set from This Is A Recording and an open jam session from neo soul band Re.Wind. Throughout the weekend, customers can also order delicious food and drink from the new summer menu.

  • Number 90 Bar & Kitchen’s 4th Birthday party takes place on 1 – 4 March 2018. Number 90 Bar & Kitchen, 90 Wallis Road, Hackney Wick, E9 5LN. Nearest station: Hackney Wick. Open Thu and Sun 12pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-1am. Free entry. For more information, visit Number 90’s website.

    For the latest what’s on guide in London, click here.

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Schumann Street review: A fascinating musical ‘crawl’ around Spitalfields

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Andrew West and Rob Murray perform during Schumann Street, a ‘song crawl’ around the Huguenot houses of Spitalfields

The Spitalfields Music Festival is an annual celebration of innovative music, featuring local and international talent. Venues across east London play host to a wide variety of performances. The last event of the 2017 festival in December was the captivating Schumann Street. Sixteen artists from very different genre and backgrounds were invited to perform their own interpretation of the songs in German composer Robert Schumann’s 1840 song cycle Dichterliebe (A Poet’s Love).

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Baritone Benedict Nelson expresses forlorn desperation in Allnächtlich im Traume

The audience were split into groups to start our journey on the immersive, promenade musical installation. For the evening, eight local residents of the Huguenot houses of Spitalfields had opened their doors to stage two performances across different floors. The whole event takes place over 75 minutes so participants were invited to come and go as we please from each house, spending just long enough to hear the 16 pieces. We started our experience in Wilkes Street, a small group of us stepping into the parlour of a charmingly creaky early 18th century home. With just six of us squeezed into the wood-panelled front room, we sat quietly as a pianist Andrew West and tenor Rob Murray provided an interpretation of one of the song cycles by candlelight. Next, we headed upstairs for a cosier experience with a guitarist Aart Stootman accompanying singer Abimaro by a roaring fire in the living room.

Despite being a classical piece, the story of Dichterliebe was told to us through hip-hop, Bengali folk, soul, jazz, R&B, blues, as well as a classical. We stood, sat on chairs, tables and floors; or lingered in dark corners as we snuck in and out of the performances trying not to interrupt. The song cycle is about love, then loss, with the musicians giving musical expressions of the joy and the torment the heart goes through. One particularly enchanting performance was Mara Carlyle and Liam Byrne in the basement kitchen of a courtyard home. Carlyle sang while wearing Marigolds and washing up at the sink, as Byrne accompanies her on the viol. She then switches direction with a musical saw, bringing a quirky, modern end to the piece. Moving upstairs, we were greeted by an incredibly emotional performance by soprano Héloïse Werner and harpist Anne Denholm in a darkly lit living room. Werner looked positively heartbroken as she forlornly belted out lines from Und Wüssten’s die Blumen. I also particularly enjoyed German duo Apollo 47 depicting the torment and obsession that love can inflict as they rapped Hör’ ich das Liedchen Klingen. In a room covered in lyrics on the wall, the pair were oblivious to the audience as they rambled around with their lanterns trying to make sense of their emotions.

In the end, I only visited seven houses and was disappointed to have missed the last one, due to the fault of my own time management. I enjoyed the different stagings – from a more formal setting of a singer by a piano, to a drunken singing rampage around another house. While some artists acknowledged your presence, for many of the others, it felt like we were eavesdropping on a private or mundane moment – the writing of love letters, household chores, a lonely moping session. In addition to being entertained by very different performances, I felt privileged to see inside these amazing Georgian houses. I loved checking out their original shutters, fireplaces, wood panelling and window seats. Overall, it was certainly an ambitious premise, but the Spitalfields Music Festival certainly pulled it off. The result was a quirky, innovative experience which brought the classical workings of Schumann to a new audience.

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