At a lunch on 2 March 2011, Director Ian Ritchie gave an outline of this year's Festival. Full details to follow in a few weeks.

Welcome to the 2011 City of London Festival. Over the past few years the Festival has explored the cultural connections between the City and other parts of the world through its ‘Trading Places’ theme. This summer, our spotlight falls on Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific as we explore the diverse cultural riches of this beautiful and vulnerable part of the world. The whole ‘Square Mile’ will come alive for three weeks, both indoors and out, in a creative and vibrant programme of music, street art, dance, film, walks and even birdsong!

World-renowned Australian guitarist John Williams is joined by the English Chamber Orchestra in Guildhall Old Library to open the Festival with guitar concertos by two of Australia’s leading composers, Peter Sculthorpe and Ross Edwards. This is followed immediately by a unique happening in Guildhall Yard, as night falls and silence enfolds the City: the Dusk Chorus, a specially created music installation by David Lumsdaine and Craig Vear of birdsong and other sounds of nature recorded in the Australian outback, with new choreography depicting the dance of the lyrebird and surrounded by giant birds made from recycled rubbish. Birds are nature’s musicians, of course.

Other musical highlights from ‘Down Under’ include world premières by the City of London Sinfonia and the Nash Ensemble of new works by Brett Dean, concerts by Australia’s Goldner String Quartet, the New Zealand String Quartet and Australian pianist Piers Lane. The King’s Singers bring their inimitable blended sound and consummate musicianship to their programme in Mansion House, exploring the world of birds and bees in music across the centuries and giving the world première of new work specially commissioned from Elena Kats-Chernin. Aside from presenting numerous important living composers from Australia, New Zealand and the UK, we mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Percy Grainger and celebrate his legacy in concerts, talks and photographs by Southbank Sinfonia and piano duo Penelope Thwaites and John Lavender. This summer’s fruits of our collaboration with the Barbican Centre are a New Zealand film festival and a triple-bill from the award-winning Royal New Zealand Ballet.

St Paul’s Cathedral play hosts to two concerts: the first with the London Symphony Orchestra and chamber choir Tenebrae in Fauré’s Requiem, juxtaposed with Bach’s intimate yet majestic Partita in d minor for solo violin (Gordan Nikolitch), and the second featuring New Zealand-born organist Dame Gillian Weir in Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. In one of several Festival appearances, Australia’s foremost didjeridu player William Barton joins the Choir of Southwark Cathedral in the European première of a new version of Peter Sculthorpe’s Requiem in Southwark Cathedral.

Young performers continue to play especially important roles in the Festival. 12 early evening concerts feature the BBC’s New Generation Artists, all to be broadcast on Radio 3, and 12 free lunchtime concerts are given by some of the Guildhall School finest emerging musicians. These concerts, with their programmes echoing the themes of the Festival, all take place in the City’s beautiful churches and give the public the perfect opportunities to hear today some of the stars of tomorrow.

Outdoor highlights include the Festival Procession involving more than a thousand young participants, a waka (Maori war canoe) paddled up the Thames and a host of artists taking part in our Origins Family Day of indigenous music and art on Hampstead Heath. Major public art in the Festival includes the world première of Organ of Corti, winner of this year’s PRS New Music award, created by Liminal. A sculpture of sonic crystals, this monumental installation filters the City’s ambient traffic noise and creates subtle shifting harmonies for passers-by to enjoy. The Festival’s famous Street Pianos return for a third year – Luke Jerram’s Play Me, I’m Yours – with 20 uprights scattered across the City’s streets and open spaces for all to enjoy.

Sincere thanks are owed to all our sponsors and supporters: the City of London Corporation, Arts Council England, the business community and particularly our Principal Sponsor BNY Mellon, trusts & foundations, the BBC, international partners and individual donors. Without their enlightened involvement, this programme would not be possible.

Ian Ritchie
Festival Director

 

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