Bang on a Can with BBC Singers
THIS WEEKEND | Sat 19 Jan | Hall One 19:30
Julia Wolfe always was the wildest of the Bang on a Can composers, and in her landmark oratorio she brings together her brand of punk energy, hard-edged social commentary and some of the most hauntingly beautiful choral writing in recent times. I’m so delighted that the UK premiere will be at Kings Place.
Fri 1 Feb | Hall Two 20:00
Composer and saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi is one of London’s brightest young jazz creatives, and with her 10-piece SEED ensemble she is making waves, as her recent BASCA Award for Large Composition proved. The evening will see the launch of her debut SEED album, Driftglass: it’s a standing show and I defy anyone not to dance.
Anna Meredith is a one-off: she redefined what it is to be a composer today with her refreshing sense of play, theatricality, and musical rigour. In this two-part evening with Aurora you’ll be taken from her exquisite Origami Songs, a clarinet concerto in all but name, to the shattering percussive assault of Brisk Widow in quadraphonic sound and the raw physicality of Gigue (for dance-mat). A rare opportunity to encounter her creativity close-up.
Our Luminate series set out to blur boundaries between acoustic and electronic music, and this special evening will offer a multiplicity of visionary approaches. Pan Daijing creates powerful, unpredictable soundscapes powered by deep, pulsing bass, while Japanese Hatis Noit (pictured) transforms her voice into fantastical chimeras. Kathy Hinde and Sabine Vogel (aka ORNIS) were inspired by swarming ocean life to invent the immersive experience, Scattering Layer.
Fri 22 Feb | Hall One 19:30
It was Rachel Podger who first introduced me to the music of Isabella Leonarda, a gifted nun from Ferrara who began composing in middle age. With her fiery expressiveness, depth of knowledge and questing mind, who better than Rachel to lead us on this Renaissance and Baroque adventure through Caccini, Leonarda, Bach, Handel and Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre? A chance, too, to hear the heart-stopping voice of Ciara Hendrick.
Every year Jewish Book Week stirs the soul with a banquet of wit and reason. Trenchant panel discussions and incisive interviews on the most pressing issues of our time: I’m struggling to choose between A Brave New World, with Jamie Susskind (pictured) on the ethical issues around Artificial Intelligence and Helena Kennedy’s forensic anatomy of how the law fails women, Eve was Shamed.
Sun 17 Mar | Hall One 19:30
Rachel Newton’s folk weekend makes a powerful statement about women in folk this year, recognising the real contribution of great female instrumentalists as well as singers. It’s hard to overestimate the influence of Kathryn Tickell in making folk traditions searingly relevant to young musicians all over the country. What a treat to have her with The Darkening in Hall One.
Fri 12 Apr | Hall One 19:00 & 21:00
The kora is one of my favourite instruments, combining everything that is good about the lute, harp and guitar into one magical package. Gambian-born Sona Jobarteh has to be one of its most charismatic exponents, a free spirit who brings unimaginably virtuosic technical skill to her performances along with sense of pure enjoyment. She is the embodiment of the contemporary griot, maestra, singer, story-teller.
#9 Stile Antico
Sat 27 Apr | Hall One 19:30
Not everyone we approached for Venus Unwrapped was prepared to go the distance and explore great historical music written by women. Stile Antico’s Kate Ashby leapt at the chance to create something entirely new, basing her programme around the music written for Elizabeth I, Mary I and Margaret of Austria. The result, a weave of Aleotti, d’Este, Casulana & Cesis with Bryd, Tallis, Tavener & Sheppard is both ground-breaking and will ravish the ear.
Fri 3 May | Hall One 19:30
Anyone who has heard Caroline Shaw’s astonishing Pulitzer Prize-winning Partita will know why it was so important to me to invite Roomful of Teeth to Kings Place. The composer, who sings in this Grammy-winning American ensemble, has a genuinely original take on writing for voices, using the group as her own personal lab: it’s surprising, funny, delicious and sonically invigorating.
Sat 11 May | Hall Two 20:00
Peggy Seeger is a legend: activist, songwriter, and key figure in the folk community for 60+ years. She’s also the daughter of one of America’s most influential avant-garde composers, Ruth Crawford Seeger. I’ve long wanted to bring together these two iconic figures in music. We’ll hear the latter’s startling early compositions and her later work with folk music, a love she passed on to her children. Over three events (Ligeti Quartet, 9 May; Christina McMaster’s ‘Dear Superwoman’ + Seeger: Songs my mother taught me; 11 May) you can trace the story of Crawford Seeger and her extraordinary daughter.
Sun 19 May | Hall Two 19:00
I adore Sarah Millican, the woman who made cosy cool, a sharp satirist in furry slippers. Hats off to our comedy programmer Zoë Jeyes for persuading her to bring Standard Issue, her live podcast, to Kings Place – just one of many, including, of course, Deborah Frances-White’s ever-uproarious Guilty Feminist, and look out for the London Podcast Festival in September.
Thu 23 May | Hall One 19:30
Grażyna Bacewicz’s (1909–1969) name should stand alongside those of Górecki, Lutosławski, Penderecki and Panufnik in 20th-century Polish music. Far too few musicians in the UK are playing her work, so I’m thrilled that the dynamic Southbank Sinfonia and conductor Simon Over (pictured) will be performing two of her most dazzling pieces for strings: Divertimento and Concerto for String Orchestra.
Thu 23 May | Hall One 19:30
Mitchener defies category, a composer, improviser, vocalist and collaborator, she shape-shifts her way through the contemporary jazz and classical scene with a burning sense of creative purpose. No wonder she has chosen to focus this Venus event on her predecessor Jeanne Lee: a kindred spirit who excelled as a singer, choreographer, musician, poet and activist, as at home with jazz as with John Cage. Prepare to be captivated.
Thu 10 Oct | Hall One 19:30
Ken Burton, the celebrated conductor of the London Adventists Chorale, has played a blinder with this vibrant sequence of music from female African-American composers stretching back to the early 20th century. From Florence Price and Undine Smith-Moore to some of the living legends in this scene, including Rosephanye Powell and Eurydice Osterman, this promises to be a rousing event.
Poet in the City presents….
Wed 16 Oct | Hall Two 19:30
One of the most creative organisations I know is our Artistic Associate Poet in the City. They responded to Venus Unwrapped with an array of alluring events, from a reappraisal of Sylvia Plath (29 April) to this tempting cabaret with gender-defying drag queen Dean Atta (pictured). Leave your preconceptions at the door.
Sat 9 Nov | Hall One 19:30
Tansy Davies is a truly audacious talent. I’ve watched her develop from a young French horn player into the composer of stature and substance we hear today. There’s no limit to her imagination, her assurance or to her ambition, so it’s fantastic to be hosting this London Sinfonietta event curated by Davies, and to be co-commissioning her to write a new work for ensemble and improvising singer.
Fri 13 Dec | Hall Two 20:00
This programme gives a platform to some of the most beguiling music by Kaija Saariaho (pictured), who vies with Magnus Lindberg for the title of Finland’s leading composer. Known for the cool transparency of her sound world, her more recent work pulses with sensuous warmth. The brilliant young Explore Ensemble present her clarinet concerto Figura in its chamber incarnation, and the deeply expressive trio ‘I sense a second heart’ alongside arresting work by Joanna Baillie and Rebecca Saunders.
Sat 14 Dec | Hall One 19:00
We couldn’t complete Venus Unwrapped without hearing Louise Farrenc’s impressive and tempestuous Symphony No. 3 and who better to perform it than the ever-zestful Aurora Orchestra with exciting young conductor Duncan Ward? As if that wasn’t enough, the peerless Angela Hewitt (pictured) will be performing Mozart’s K482. The late-night Lock-In will recreate Nadia Boulanger’s star-studded Parisian salon, where you might meet Piazzolla, Philip Glass, Thea Musgrave or Burt Bacharach.
Bang on a Can with BBC Singers – Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields
jazz re:freshed present: SEED Ensemble ‘Driftglass’ Album Launch
Aurora Orchestra play Anna Meredith Life Cycle
Pan Daijing + Hatis Noit
ORNIS (Kathy Hinde & Sabine Vogel) Scattering Layer
Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque Maria, dolce Maria
A Brave New World? Living in a Society Transformed by Technology Jamie Susskind, Jacob Turner and Hugo Rifkind
Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening + The Rheingans Sisters
Stile Antico That Most Graceful Melody
Roomful of Teeth
Peggy Seeger: Songs My Mother Taught Me
Standard Issue with special guest Sindhu Vee & Catherine Tate
Southbank Sinfonia A Faster Pulse
London Adventist Chorale: Still I Rise
The Black Flamingo Cabaret Poet in the City presents
London Sinfonietta – Jolts and Pulses The music of Tansy Davies
Explore Ensemble: In Dreams and Shadows
Aurora Orchestra with Angela Hewitt Pioneers