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Your A-Z Guide to Time Unwrapped


The tenth edition of our year-long series celebrates music as a temporal art in myriad ways. With just over a week left until our spectacular opening weekend, get your diaries ready and enjoy the info-bites in this special A-Z guide to Time Unwrapped.


Evelyn Glennie joins O/Modernt Quartet for a concert that explodes, condenses and stretches time. Másson’s high-velocity Frum hurls a stream of rhythmic events at the listener; Golijov’s Tenebrae opens up twilit, contemplative space. The evening also features a specially-commissioned new arrangement of Schnelzer’s dynamic Apollonian Dances for percussion and string quartet.


Martin Feinstein‘s acclaimed Bach Weekend’s theme is Time Changes and was inspired by the central programme of the festival: the six Brandenburg Concertos, which deliberately obscure the beginnings of bars, constantly shifting them to give the audience a wonderfully complex listening experience.

C is for CLOCKS – 17 Feb, 23 Sep and 14 Nov

Percussionist Manu Delago and friends create a human clock, encircling a captive audience, travelling around them their own time (17 Feb). CoMA Ensemble performs Philip Cashian’s choral odyssey, The Forest of Clocks. (23 Sep). The virtuosic mechanisms of Birtwistle’s Harrison’s Clocks punctuate pianist Alasdair Beatson’s recital like the chiming of the hours (14 Nov).

D is for DIFFERENT TRAINS – 28 Feb

Documentary speech informs the very music of this iconic quartet by Steve Reich, in which the composer imagines two trains moving simultaneously: one carrying his child self across the US between his divorced parents, one bearing children to the death camps of Nazi Germany. Thomas Gould and friends explore.

E is for EINSTEIN – 24 Mar

During the early 1900s, Einstein’s still-debated ‘thought experiments’ led to a completely new model of the space-time continuum. Meanwhile, Debussy, Schoenberg, Stravinsky et al. took music in radical directions that blew apart the relationship between harmony and progressive, linear time – as explored by the London Sinfonietta in its thought-provoking programme, Space-Time.


Violinist Darragh Morgan and eminent pianist John Tilbury perform For John Cage, Morton Feldman’s late work that explores sound and silence. The piece is set in three parts where a pattern of notes are played in varying time signatures repeatedly, in slightly altered combinations of chords and tones.

G is for GENERATIONS – 17 Mar

Father and daughter Martin & Eliza Carthy headline a Generations concert: a living example of how traditional music filters through bloodlines, in this case via the repertoire and spirit of their own seven-generation musical dynasty, plus that of the influential East Coast singing family, The Watersons. With support from another special father-daughter pairing, Tim & Rhona Dalling.

H is for HAYDN’S CREATION – 6 Jan

We start our year-long series at the very beginning with the first-ever performance of The Creation in Hall One. Haydn’s oratorio abounds with vibrant sound-painting, from his radical visions of Chaos, sublime sunrise and blinding revelation of light to the zoological bonanza of Part II, ending with the lowly worm’s ‘sinuous trace’. With the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Ádám Fischer.

I is for IN ILLO TEMPORE – 13 Jan

Monteverdi derived his striking Missa ‘In illo tempore’ (Mass ‘At that time’) from a motet by Flemish maestro Gombert, written a century earlier. Harry Christopher & The Sixteen create a chamber of echoes in this fascinating sequence on ‘time past’, here interleaved with the Dante-inspired poetry of Seamus Heaney.

J is for JAZZ TIME 19 Jan and 8 Apr

Simon H Fell’s The Ragging of Time celebrates 100 years of jazz history in a dizzying kaleidoscope spiralling from New Orleans to contemporary free jazz (19 Jan). In Chaplin in the Jazz Age, ZRI present a live re-scoring of the scenes from Chaplin’s early films – with jazz, classical and klezmer intertwined in soundtracks (8 Apr).

K is for KURTÁG & BARTÓK – 19 Sep, 17 Oct and 7 Nov

In this three-part series, the RPS Award-winning Carducci Quartet interleave Bartók’s indelible set of six quartets – the backbone of the composer’s output – with jewel-like miniatures by Bartók’s living compatriot, György Kurtág: Six moments musicauxOfficium breve and Hommage à Mihály András.

L is for LOST TIME – 18 Apr

For Proust, music could be as intensely evocative as the taste of a madeleine, unleashing a torrent of memory and emotion. Here, violinist Chloë Hanslip and pianist Danny Driver recreate a Proustian salon, featuring Beethoven’s late music, which he so admired, and the work of contemporaries Fauré, Hahn and Debussy.

M is for MEMORY – 12 Jan

Poet Frances Leviston and composer Martin Suckling explore how low-voltage memory technologies are changing our ability to remember. Suckling examine the idea of music-under-pressure by distorting and crystallising fragments of Schubert’s Quintet in C; Leviston references the voltage of Dickinson’s densely-packed poems.

N is for NOCTURNAL – 10 Oct

Swiss guitarist Christoph Denoth leads his instrument on a moonlit  journey through 400 years, from Downland’s music for lute to a 21st-century premiere. Central to the programme is Britten’s Nocturnal after John Downland, which consists of nine movements, with a theme taken from Dowland’s song, ‘Come heavy sleep’.

O is for OLD BONES – 23 Nov

Composer Nico Muhly, countertenor Iestyn Davies and Aurora Orchestra present a programme that delves into ancient notions of time. Muhly’s titular work is a setting of four texts made of the media’s reaction to the discovery of Richard III’s bones in a car park and fragments of poetry in praise of the king’s alleged killer.

P is for PROPHECY – 23 Feb

Leading mezzo-soprano Christine Rice joins Scottish Ensemble in ‘Prophecy’ – a programme inspired by Greek stories of destiny. Stravinsky’s paean to the God of music and prophecy, the ‘white’ ballet Apollon musagète, provides a frame for an exploration of the archetypal figures of Ariadne, Dido and Cassandra.


This otherworldly work by Messiaen, famously composed in the prisoner-of-war camp Stalag VIII A and premiered outside in freezing rain, was inspired by the Book of Revelation. Here the march of progressive time is forgotten, the focus turned on eternal, unchanging divinity. Artist-in-Residence Hugo Ticciati and friends perform.

R is for Raga Seasons – 3 Jun

As part of Songlines Encounters Festival, Raga Seasons look at the concept of time in north and south Indian music: times of the day, times of the year, times in history and different rhythmical cycles as well. Feat. Soumik Datta, Roopa Panesar & Shahbaz Hussain + Jyotsna Srikanth & Ligeti Qt.

S is for STIMMUNG – 9 Feb

Using just six singers with mics, Stockhausen’s Stimmung redefined the concept of vocal music through the 24 partial overtones of a single chord. The world-renowned Theatre of Voices gives a 50th-anniversary performance of this revolutionary work in its Copenhagen version, created by their director Paul Hillier in 2006.

T is for TIME STANDS STILL – 11 May

This reflective programme seeks to suspend time itself as violinist Hugo Ticciati and pianist Víkingur Ólafsson are joined by Japanese balance artist Miyoko Shida Rigolo who will construct a precariously quivering structure in a gravity-defying performance – the Sanddorn-balance act – during Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel.

U is for UNIVERSE – 14 Jan

Marvel at our amazing universe and the music of Bach, with the OAE’s new Sunday-morning series for inquiring and curious minds. Prof. Helen Gleeson, whose team produced the first graphene-based liquid crystal device, discusses ‘Time and Vision’, and how the use of time-resolved x-rays unlocks the msyteries of materials at the microscopic scale, so they can be developed for use in everyday life.

V is for VELOCITY – 5 May

In his 1983 classic, De snelheid (‘Velocity’), Louis Andriessen demonstrated the acoustic phenomenon of an ever-accelerating woodblock being subsumed into the slower tempo held by another instrumental group. It is the central piece to Icebreaker’s high-octane Minimalist programme on the theme of speed.

W is for WARTIME – 18 Nov

The Brodsky Quartet brings together responses to wars from the last century, from the First Quartet of Schulhoff, who ended his life in a concentration camp, and Shostakovich’s Eighth – a response to the Allied bombing that devastated Dresden – to George Crumb’s iconic protest against the Vietnam War, Black Angels.


In June, Kings Place will welcome a group of Benedictine monks, who will sing their divine offices – Midday Office, Vespers and Compline – in the public spaces. In the evening, The Sixteen will provide a Renaissance reflection to this fascinatingly well-preserved repertoire dating from as early as the 10th century.

Y is for YEAR’S END – 31 Dec

Our Resident Orchestra Aurora brings 2018 to a close in style with a New Year’s Eve programme in the company of the world-class pianist Imogen Cooper. Count down to the year’s end with a Viennese programme of song, dance and celebration, followed by the late-night show The Lock-In: New Year’s Eve Party.

Z is for ZEITMASSE – 20 Oct

Time underpins all music – whether composers suspend it or mark it passing. London Sinfonietta’s three-part programme tackles time in different ways – phasing and tangling it, slowing it right down or giving it a shot of adrenaline as in Stockhausen’s First Wind Quintet, Zeitmasse (‘Time Keeper’), written in the mid-1950s.

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