More buzz please

I couldn’t get to Gruppen at the Turbine Hall in Tate Modern. I should have jumped quicker to buy a ticket. I should have said yes to the person who invited me to join them (but didn’t because of a school reunion).

At the very least I should have asked the right person at the right time if I could get a ticket somehow. In the end, I left it all too late. Massive fail on my part.

None of this is me moaning, by the way. 

There’s been a buzz about the Southbank over the past week thanks to the Philharmonia and the London Symphony Orchestra. First, the Philharmonia’s Gurrelieder in Paris documented on social media as a tantalising preview for the orchestra’s season closer on Thursday. Then yesterday, a much-anticipated performance of Gruppen by the LSO.

It’s not just that these season highlights were epic performances. They were both of them much-talked about beforehand. These were true events

People I spoke to in the run-up to both, were all excitedly asking the same question. “Are you going?”

That simple question has a devastating effect – it motivates you to get yourself a ticket so that you can share in an experience others are getting excited about. And when you can’t get a ticket, it prompts a bout of irritation about not having moved fast enough early enough.

And it’s not that I didn’t get to go to Gruppen that is important here. What’s utterly delightful is that two orchestral teams (players and support staff) are able to generate such passionate enthusiasm amongst their audiences. A wonderfully reassuring and invigorating thing.

Listen to Stockhausen’s Gruppen – in a concert that also features a performance Messiaen’s Et exspecto in a radio broadcast from last night. The music starts around 8 minutes in. 

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Horniman Museum Photography Exhibition 2012

London Bridge

Kudos to South East London’s delectably different Horniman Museum and The Londonist for the ‘London Look’ Photography competition they’ve run recently on Flickr. A great use of social media. Simple and effective. A suitably endearing effort for an equally attractive destination.

Judges are convening today to decide which of the shortlisted entries gets the the top prize. I’m sure they’ll make the right decision, which I hope will be the picture above taken by Ed Walker.

Follow The Horniman Museum and The Londonist on Twitter.

Local is where it’s at

Lewisham resident and Eurovision blogger Sam Broderick writes about his recent visit to an event at the Lewisham Literary Festival:

Tonight overall was an excellent evening, one which I thoroughly enjoyed. I shall try and attend at least one more of the Festival’s events this week (perhaps the one about London on Thursday night), and am very much trying to commit myself to supporting more local community projects such as this.

I confess I haven’t got along to anything at the Lewisham Literary Festival. Not because I haven’t wanted to. Mostly because the BBC Proms has rendered me distincting lacking in energy.

No matter. Like Sam, I’m hoping I’ll get along to the London event on Thursday. Fingers crossed.

The Sky Orchestra (and their lovely balloons)

As the summer draws to a close, I find my heart warming to the sight of multiple hot-air balloons floating over south east London pumping a delectable soundscape over the rows of houses below. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to stumble on it (this filmed piece was published on the Guardian website in July 2011).

There are echoes of Stockhausen’s Helicopter String Quartet in this – what are we calling it? A work? A performance? A moving ‘installation’? – and whilst I appreciate that to get the full effect, I would have needed to be there in person with balloons passing overhead, I like the thinking behind it. I suspect it will be a long time (if at all) before the Sky Orchestra comes back to my neck of the woods in Lewisham.

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment ‘Mini’ Night Shift 8th September 2011

The Night Shift is a strand of concerts in various venues across London intended to present classical music in a slightly non-orthodox way. When I attended one last year I was – I’ll admit it – momentarily thrown of course by the instruction from the stage encouraging audience members to get up from their seats to get a drink from the bar whenever they wanted, to clap whenever they wanted or indeed to chat whenever they wanted.

Radical thinking. Thinking which paid off too. That gig was a near sell-out in the Festival Hall in London. On a Tuesday night. A school night.

On 8th September the OAE are going a whole stage further in their experimentalism. First they’re putting on a ‘Mini’ Night Shift in a pub in Kings Cross, London. And second – and most alarmingly for me – I’m presenting it. It’s my first ever proper presenting gig. And I share my thoughts on that in this smashing little video released today.

Do be sure to buy your tickets and come along. It should be a hoot. You won’t have to walk very far to get to the bar.