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).
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.
- The Spitalfields Music Festival will return in December 2018. To keep up to date, visit the Spitalfields Music website.
Need to shake off those winter blues? Well, you don’t have to wait until spring as the London Remixed Festival is returning to Shoreditch this February. Over two days, over 25 innovative and exciting bands and DJs from a range of genres will perform across four stages. Revellers will be entertained by talented artists playing Latin Grooves, Afro beats, Tropical Bass, Vintage-Remix, Desert Remix Balkan Beats, Urban Roots, Acoustic Soundclash and Brass Band Remix.
Taking over Rich Mix, music fans can soak up the festival spirit without the mud or dodgy toilets. As well as live music and DJ sets, guests can also take part in the free Remix workshops, Silent Disco, the ‘Disco Lift’ or the infamous Remix Speed Dating. Among the headliners include Wara, Holy Moly & The Crackers, The Baghdaddies, John Fairhurst, Siska and Subajah.
On Friday night, the Brass Off stage curated by Continental Drifts features New York Brass Band Vs Temple Funk Collective; DJ Chris Tofu and Count Bassy. On Saturday, revellers will be spoiled for choice with four stages to choose from, including Tropicarnival (Curated by Wormfood, Movimientos and Vibes & Pressure); Polka Club (Curated by Continental Drifts and Arts Canteen); and Folk Ghetto (Curated by Two For Joy and Woodburner).
- The London Remixed Festival takes place from 2-3 February 2018 at Richmix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, E1 6LA. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street. Open Fri 2 7pm-1am, Sat 3 8pm-4am. Tickets: £7-£15. For more information and booking, visit the festival’s official website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in February, click here.
Returning to London this December is the annual Spitalfields Music Festival. Over eight days, local and international musicians will gather in east London for a programme of bold and innovative performance. This year has been curated by conductor André de Ridder, with his vision shaking up the festival for 2017. Ridder is Artistic Director of Finland’s largest Contemporary Music Festival, founder of the ground-breaking ensemble s t a r g a z e and has worked across many genres with artists such as Nico Muhly, Damon Albarn, Max Richter, Uri Caine, Brian Eno and Jonny Greenwood.
Among the wide variety of performances and experiences include an immersive time-travel journey in a Spitalfields Huguenot House, meditation-inspired music under an interactive light display, an art commission in a church and a new work inspired by US punk band Fugazi. Acts include Sam Amidon, Bryan Benner, Sam Beste, Liam Byrne, Uri Caine, Mara Carlyle, Rahel Debebe-Desselegne, Anne Denholm, Abimaro, Lisa Hannigan, Topi Lehtipuu, Katherine Manley, Phil Minton, James McVinnie, Robert Murray, Ben Nelson, Alex Reeve, Shapla Salique, Saied Silbak, Aart Strootman, Heloise Werner and Apollo 47.
Among the highlights include:
- 3 December : East End Speed Histories: Tales Less Told
An unpredictable adventure through history including tales from actors, historians and authors in a mystery location not usually open to the public. 2pm and 4pm. Tickets: £10. At secret location, meet at steps of Christ Church.
Classic Album Sundays presents an evening with composer Max Richter and conductor André de Ridder to discuss Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons. 7pm. Tickets: £15. Shoreditch Church (St Leonard’s).
- 4 and 6 December : Musical Rumpus: Fogonogo
From the award-winning Musical Rumpus series, explore the multi-sensory world of Fogonogo – an opera specially created for babies and toddlers. 11am and 1.30pm. Tickets: Child £8, Accompanying Adult £2. Rich Mix.
- 6 December : Renegade New Classical: Daniel Brandt, Nik Colk Void
Presented by André de Ridder’s orchestral collective s t a r g a z e, listen to the realms of classical collide with minimal techno, experimental and electronic music. 8.30pm. Tickets: £10-£28. Shoreditch Church (St Leonard’s).
- 7 December : Late Night Bach
Festival-featured artist James McVinnie performs a stunning 40-minute set of solo keyboard music by JS Bach. 9pm. Pay what you decide. Shoreditch Church (St Leonard’s).
- 9 and 10 December : Schumann Street
An ambitious staging and (re)interpretation of Schumann’s iconic song cycle: Dichterliebe. Set across the stunning Huguenot Houses of Spitalfields, each of the 16 songs in Schumann’s cycle will be performed by a different artist drawn from a wide range of stylistic backgrounds including Bengali folk, rap, classical, soul and jazz. 5pm and 7.30pm. Tickets: £35. Huguenot Homes of Spitalfields.
- The Spitalfields Music Festival takes place from 2-10 December 2017. At various venues around Spitalfields. Nearest stations: Shoreditch High Street or Liverpool Street.
For a guide to what else is on in London in December, click here.
Over the years, Dreamworks have entertained millions of families with their animated movies. This December, fans will have the chance to listen some of the songs from the films performed live as the Dreamworks Animation in Concert UK tour comes to the capital.
Coming to London for one night only, the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra will be accompanying some of the favourite moments from Dreamworks’ most popular films. Families will be entertained with 20 years of animation and music scores by Hans Zimmer, Harry Gregson-Williams, John Powell, Alexandre Desplat, Alan Silvestri, Danny Elfman and many others. Scenes from Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon will be projected on the big screen in HD as they are accompanied by live music. Children and adults alike will be enthralled as the music is played in full live splendour.
Carol Nygren, Vice President, Worldwide Live Entertainment, Universal Brand Development, said: “We are excited to bring the stunning music of DreamWorks Animation composers to life on stage to be showcased in this great and fun event for music and movie fans of all ages.”
- Dreamworks Animation in Concert UK tour comes to London on 1 December 2017. From 6pm. Tickets start from £28.32. Wembley SSE Arena, Arena Square, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0AA. Nearest station: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For tickets, visit the Dreamworks SeeTickets website.
For the latest what’s on in London guide, click here.
This summer sees some of the biggest music acts and DJs in the world converging on London – and the Home Counties – for the festival season. Here’s a one-stop guide to what’s on and where to get tickets. However, be aware that most will sell out in advance so I would recommend getting your tickets asap.
- 3 June : Camden Rocks
Hard rock and metal festival featuring over 250 bands (big names and underground talent) at 25 venues around NW1. This year’s line-up includes Feeder, The Coral, The Damned, The Rifles, Milburn, Reverend And The Makers, The Professionals, Royal Republic and many more. Tickets: £39.50. For tickets, visit the Camden Rocks website.
- 3 June : Field Day
Popular festival returns to East London, featuring performances from Aphex Twin, Dr John Cooper Clarke, Lady Leshurr, Flamingods, Omar Suleyman and many more. 11.30am-11pm. Tickets: £64.50 (online). Victoria Park, Victoria Park Road, Hackney, E3 5SN. Nearest stations: Bethnal Green or Mile End. For more information, visit the Field Day website.
- 4 June : Mighty Hoopla
A pure pop extravaganza comes to north-east London, featuring live music, DJs, bingo, fun fair rides, giant ball pit, karaoke, cooking talks, bars, food and more. Acts include Years & Years, All Saints, Will Young, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Fleur East, Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon, Snap!, Alison Limerick, Jodie Harsh and more. Tickets from £30. Finsbury Park, Harringay, N4. Nearest station: Finsbury Park. For more information, visit the Mighty Hoopla website.
- 7 – 24 June : Hampton Court Palace Festival
Big names perform against the backdrop of the historic palace. Acts include Bryan Ferry, James Morrison, Amy McDonald, Will Young’s Jazz Sessions, Van Morrison, Jools Holland, Bjorn Again, Corinne Bailey Rae, Ricky Astley and Michael Ball with Alfie Boe. Tickets range from £39.50-£95 depending on act. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (trains from Waterloo). For more information and tickets, visit the Hampton Court Palace Festival website.
- 9 – 18 June : Meltdown
This year’s Meltdown Festival is curated by M.I.A. Acts include Young M.A., Tommy Genesis, Young Fathers, Soulwax, Afrikan Boy, Block Party with Rinse FM, Giggs, Yung Lean, Princess Nokia, Hip-Hop Karaoke, Crystal Castles and more. Ticket prices vary. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.
- 10 June : Bushstock Festival
One day music festival across Shepherd’s Bush. Acts include The Staves, Áine Cahill, Basia Bulat, Benjamin Francis, Leftwich, Bruno Major, Colouring, Cortes, Gordi, Isaac Gracie, Jade Bird, John Joseph Brill, Jordan Mackampa, Krusoe, Liv Dawson, Methyl Ethel, Noctürn, Outlya, Rhys Lewis, Spring King, Ten Tonnes, Tender Central and The Wandering Hearts. Tickets: Tickets from £30. At multiple venues across W12. For more information, visit the festival’s website.
- 10 June : Southport Weekender Festival
Long-running music weekender comes to London for one-day only. Featuring Kerri Chandler, Roger Sanchez, David Morales, Tony Humphries, Julie McKnight, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Jazzie B, LTJ Bukem, Fabio & Grooverider, Detroit Swindle, Osunlade, Delano Smith, Derrick Carter, Joey Negro, Grant Nelson, Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson, CJ Mackintosh, Booker T and many more. 12pm-10pm. Tickets from £45. Finsbury Park, N4. Nearest station: Finsbury Park. For booking, visit the Southport Weekender Festival website.
- 15 – 18 June : Live At Chelsea
Long weekend of open air concerts at historic home of the Chelsea Pensioners. Featuring Ludovico Einaudi, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Belle & Sebastian. Tickets from £38.50. Royal Hospital Chelsea, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, SW3 4SR. Nearest station: Sloane Square. For tickets, visit the Live At Chelsea website.
- 30 June – 2 July : Love Supreme
Jazz festival in leafy Sussex, featuring The Jacksons, George Benson, Gregory Porter, Herbie Hancock, Laura Mvula, Corinne Bailey Rae, the Robert Glasper Experiment and many more. Tickets: Day £59.50, Weekend camping £165. Glynde Place, Lewes, Sussex, BN8 6SX. Nearest station: Glynde (trains from Victoria or London Bridge). For more inforation, visit the festival’s website. Read the rest of this entry
Returning to Waterloo this winter is the biggest Vault Festival to date. Now in its fifth year, the six-week long fringe event will be expanding to two further local venues in addition to its home beneath Waterloo station. There’s something for everyone with music, theatre, film, comedy, parties, food, drinking and more.
Among the highlights of the festival, will be the chance to step into Jay Gatsby’s world in an immersive theatrical experience of The Great Gatsby. Meanwhile, Superbolt Theatre return to the Vault Festival with two productions; their 2016 hit The Jurassic Parks, a hilarious spin on Spielberg’s blockbuster, and Mars Actually, a physical and funny vision of life on the red planet.
Turning circus on its head is Becoming Shades, a reimagining of the myth of Persephone using live music, aerial acrobatics, fire, dance and mime. The thought-provoking Thought To Flesh is a theatrical investigation into motor neuron disease (MND) using spoken word, multi-media and movement interpretation.
Meanwhile, movie fans will be able to enjoy the Vault’s Film Festival, featuring 20 different screenings. Among the premiers include dark_net staring Johnny Vegas and Love Comes Later, starring Sarita Choudhury (Homeland). There will also be a special screening of Red from award-winning director Branko Tomovic, a crime thriller about illegal backstreet surgery.
For party animals, the Vaults will be hosting late-night revelry every weekend, including the Galactic Love Valentine’s Ball, Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), The Nudge’s Great Gatsby Party, as well as the festival’s opening and closing parties presented by Time Out London.
Aside from the entertainment, there are plenty of opportunities for drinking and eating. The Balkano Kitchen will be serving dishes inspired by chef Martin H Shaw’s travels in Eastern Europe. There will be five bars across the three venues, with two themed bars presented in collaboration with Meantime beer and Campari. One of the more intriguing drinking spots will be The Neath, an immersive, subterranean members bar for the supernatural produced and curated by the team behind The Crystal Maze.
- The Vaults Festival takes place from 25 January – 5 March 2017 at The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN and Network Theatre, 246a Lower Road, Waterloo, SE1 8SJ. Nearest station: Waterloo. Shows will also be on at Morley College, 61 Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7HT. Nearest station: Lambeth North (open from mid-Feb). For more information and tickets, visit The Vault Festival website.
For a guide to what else is on in March, click here.
Brightening up gloomy February is the Ealing Music and Film Festival 2017. Returning to the West London suburb for the fifth year, the festival’s theme is Ealing’s cultural heart. The five-day event will bring together world talents and home-grown artists performing a range of genres from across three centuries at venues across Ealing.
Classical fans will be entertained by the world’s most recorded chamber orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, who are teaming up with the Tenebrae Choir and conductor Nigel Short, to perform Allegri Miserere, Mozart Clarinet Concerto and Mozart Requiem on 9 February. Meanwhile, a day later, the Ealing Youth Orchestra and conductor Leon Gee will perform Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 with soloist Martin James Bartlett and Mahler Symphony No.1.
For those who like the blues, The Ealing Club presents The Blues Band’s Paul Jones and Dave Kelly at the iconic Red Room venue, where the Rolling Stones famously played in the ’60s. Other musical acts include pianist and Head of Classical Performance at the London College of Music, Emilie Capulet with a free lunchtime piano recital and the Tippett Quartet and Festival Artistic Director, composer and conductor Julian Gallant will be giving a public concert on 12 February.
Film aficionados will enjoy the concert by Ealing Symphony Orchestra and conductor John Gibbons as they perform iconic scores from movies with Ealing connections. Meanwhile, there will be a screening of David Cronenberg’s Spider (2002) starring Ralph Fiennes, Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson and Lynn Redgrave, in partnership with Classic Cinema Club Ealing. Playing on the area’s cinematic history, there will be a guided location walk and film screening of historical comedy drama Pride (2014) at the ‘Island Triangle’ in North Acton on 11 February.
- The Ealing Music and Film Festival takes place from 8 – 12 February 2017. Events range from free to £30. Venues include the University of West London, Church of St Barnabas, The Red Room (formerly The Ealing Club), St Mary’s Church and The Collective Old Oak. For more information and booking, visit the festival website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in February, click here.
Whether you’re a huge jazz aficionado or curious to discover more of the genre, the EFG London Jazz Festival is a good place to be. Returning to the capital on 11-20 November 2016, the 1o day festival sees a variety of gigs – both big and small – coming to over 50 venues across the city. Over 2000 international and home grown talent from a range of backgrounds will be showcasing their music.
Here’s some of the highlights of this year’s festival:
– 11 November : Takuya Kuroda & Makaya McCraven
Japanese New Yorker Takuya, a trumpet maestro and Chicago jazz star Makaya kick off the opening night of the festival with a double bill. Tickets: £20. Jazz Café, 5 Parkway, Camden, NW1 7PG. Nearest station: Camden Town.
– 12 November : Alice Zawadski & Jamie Safirudden
Critically acclaimed Anglo-Polish singer and violinist Alice and pianist Jamie play music dedicated to Joni Mitchell. 9pm. Tickets: £17.50. Live @ Zedel, Crazy Coqs, 20 Sherwood Street, Soho, W1F 7ED. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus.
– 14 November : SFJazz Collective play Michael Jackson
All-star jazz collective featuring Miguel Zenón, David Sánchez, Sean Jones and Robin Eubanks play the hits of the King of Pop Michael Jackson. 7.30pm. Tickets: £10-£27.50. Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, Belgravia, SW1x 9DQ. Nearest station: Sloane Square.
– 15 November : YolanDa Brown
MOBO-winning saxophonist Yolanda will be performing reggae love songs with her 10-piece band and accompanied by Shingai Shoniwa of The Noisettes. 8pm. Tickets: £20-£30. Barbican, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest station: Barbican.
– 17 November : Hailey Tuck
Texan jazz singer Hayley has been named as one of Yahoo! Music’s ’25 singer-song writers under 25 to watch’. 7pm. Tickets: £20. Live @ Zedel, Crazy Coqs, 20 Sherwood Street, Soho, W1F 7ED. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus.
– 18 – 19 November : Sarah Jane Morris & Antonio Forione
Singer Sarah Jane and virtuoso guitarist Antonio will be playing tracks from their new collaborative album Compared To What. 7pm and 9.30pm. Tickets: £24. Live @ Zedel, Crazy Coqs, 20 Sherwood Street, Soho, W1F 7ED. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus.
– 20 November : Wayne Shorter Quartet
Revered jazz composer/songwriter Wayne Shorter and his musicians will be playing his cutting edge compositions. 7.30pm. Tickets: £15-£50. Barbican, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest station: Barbican.
- The London Jazz Festival takes place from 11 – 20 November 2016. For more information, visit the London Jazz Festival website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in November, click here.
Now we’re in August, it feels like the summer is rushing by the rate of knots. However, there’s still time for some festival fever. This August Bank Holiday Monday, chart legends Madness are hosting their very own music festival on Clapham Common.
The Baggy Trousers stars will be inviting a host of their musical pals to share the stage during the day long alfresco extravaganza. Acts include The Hot 8 Brass Band, Craig Charles, Terry Farley, Spring King, Toddla T, Rob Da Bank, and Reggae Roast. Also performing include Toots & The Maytals, David Rodigan, Norman Jay MBE, Congo Natty & The All Stars, Mike Skinner & Murkage present Tonga, Ms. Dynamite, Kiko Bun and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.
A statement from Madness reads: ‘We are honoured and privileged that London has found us a place where for one day every year we can have our very own festival, we here by name that day House of Common. See you in Clapham Madheads… For the love of the common people.’
- House of Common takes place on Monday 29 August 2016 (Bank Holiday) from 12pm until 10.30pm. Tickets: £47.81. Clapham Common, SW4. Nearest stations: Clapham Common or Clapham South. For more information and tickets, visit the Madness website.
For a guide to London’s music festivals this summer, click here.
For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.
Europe is a hot topic at the moment thanks to the UEFA Euro 2016 championships and the EU Referendum. Regardless of your politics or football allegiance, you can’t deny the cultural gifts we enjoy from various countries across the continent.
Running in parallel with the football championships is a five-week programme celebrating European culture. From 10 June to 14 July, the Harlequin Euro Festival will bring European culture, language and folk traditions to the historic surrounds of Devonshire Square in the City of London.
The title of the festival is inspired by mischievous Arlecchino, the character from the 16th Century Italian ‘Commedia dell’arte’, famous for his multi-coloured chequered costume.
Among the highlights of the festival include:
- 21 June: Flamenco Vision – a stunning display of flamenco music and dance.
- 22 June: ‘The Italian Dream’ Opera – a concert by international acclaimed tenors Alberto Sousa, Leonel Pinheiro and Alex Tsilogiannis.
- 7 July: Parisian Moulin Rouge Can-Can themed show by Tillie’s Can Can.
- 14 July: Portuguese Fado music concert by Ru Vasconcellos and Mario Bakuna.
Patrizia Sechi, Events Manager at Devonshire Square said: ‘The European Football Championships have provided us with the prefect opportunity to put on a vibrant selection of events to celebrate European culture through food, music and art performances. Over the next five weeks the rich tapestry of events will unfold, under the Harlequin banner, bringing together members of the public to celebrate in line with the football.’
- The Harlequin Euro Festival takes place from 10 June – 14 July 2016 on weekday lunchtimes. At Devonshire Square’s western courtyard, City of London, EC2M. Nearest station: Liverpool Street or Aldgate. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in July, click here.