Guildhall School of Music & Drama installs ground-breaking low-latency technology for free-to-view digital Autumn events season

Technology allows large-scale musical collaboration across multiple venues whilst ensuring social distancing

Highlights of the online Autumn 2020 events season in the School’s 140th anniversary year include:

  • Significant installation of low-latency technology introduced at the School to allow for large-scale musical collaboration between spaces whilst ensuring social distancing 
  • Soprano Julia Bullock is Artist in Residence 2020–2022 
  • Live broadcasts and pre-recorded concerts, plays, operas and more, all free-to-view online 
  • Artistic Director of HighTide Suba Das directs Guildhall actors in a new version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Jamie Bradley and Vicki Igbokwe return to Guildhall School with Pod, devised together with the Company
  • A triple bill of Italian operas by Mascagni, Wolf-Ferrari and Donizetti, directed by Stephen Medcalf
  • Paula Varjack curates and hosts a series of conversations with socially engaged artists and BA Performance & Creative Enterprise students, who also present a three-day online festival of new work, Chapters
  • Music highlights include the rescheduled Gold Medal final and Guildhall Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jessica Cottis 
  • The Jazz department begins a year-long series exploring the history of the Big Band and presents the Guildhall Autumn Jazz Festival

Low Latency Technology

Guildhall School has made a significant investment in its streaming and broadcast capabilities over recent years. As a result of the challenges posed on performers by COVID-19, the School has now invested in new NDI video and Dante Audio Networks which enable low-latency collaboration between spaces in the School. This allows large-scale musical collaboration whilst ensuring social distancing amongst players and performers. This new technology supports the work the Recording and Audio Visual department have already undertaken in building a world-class Solid State Logic (SSL) analogue mix facility, as well as a state-of-the art TV Studio control room, that allows for streaming and broadcast from 30 venues and classrooms within the School. 

Head of Recording & Audio Visual Julian Hepple says: ‘Our recording and broadcast facilities at Guildhall School are among the best in the world. We’re really proud that the School has a state-of-the-art digital facility to allow our students to collaborate and share their work with audiences and participants in new exciting ways. The aim of technology is always to bring performers and audiences closer together, and whilst that is a challenge in physical spaces, we are excited about all the opportunities we have in the digital domain. My eternal thanks to our tireless install team, SSL, NewTek, BirdDog TV, DataSound Consulting and Dylan Bate Project Management.

Julia Bullock Artist in Residence 2020–2022

American classical singer Julia Bullock will be welcomed as Artist in Residence at Guildhall School for the seasons 2020–2022. Known for her versatile artistry and probing intellect, Bullock is celebrated as an innovative programmer whose artistic curation, which prominently centres around social consciousness, is in high demand. She is also a prominent voice of social consciousness and activism. During her residency, Bullock will draw on her depth of experience to work with Vocal students in masterclasses and performance projects, guiding them on programming and on developing their own creative processes. More details on public events as part of this residency will be announced in due course. 

Soprano Julia Bullock says: ‘As an artist in residence, I’ve identified my role as someone to examine and consider the environments I’ve been invited to enter, and then find a clear way to share my reflections. Taking on that role within a place that prioritises education calls for a different approach than an organisation focused on arts performance. And I’m becoming more convinced that one’s development in the studies of classical art must be grounded in a perpetual state of learning – not performance. 

While I aim to give guidance and support to the young artists at Guildhall School, I imagine this will be a time where we influence and inform each other – as we all seek to find greater clarity in what we create, the services we provide, and further identify why artists seem to put themselves in this perpetually unique position to provoke, challenge, and question. I cannot wait to engage with the students, faculty and staff of Guildhall over the next two years!


BROADCAST LIVE: A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Four performances Thursday 26 – Saturday 28 November, 2pm & 7:30pm 

Award-winning Artistic Director of HighTide theatre company Suba Das creates this new production of Shakespeare’s classic tale.

In the dead of night, four young lovers escape the luxury of their city as it prepares for the biggest political wedding it has ever seen. Their journey takes them through a dying forest as they chase their own fantasies. Soon after, a plucky am-dram troupe and, finally, the power brokers of Athens themselves, all follow. What awaits them all – far from their contemporary comforts – is beyond their wildest dreams…

The city and the forest combine for one riotous night in this new version of Shakespeare’s darkly magical comedy. As the metropolitan elite invade the natural world, nature prepares to fight back in the form of fairies, transformation, and – if necessary – violence.

On this midsummer night, everything is up for grabs: the youth of Athens, the delicate balance between the city and the untamed forest and, most crucially, the success of a sure-to-be seminal production of Pyramus and Thisbe.

BROADCAST LIVE: Pod: Four performances Monday 30 November – Wednesday 2 December, 2pm & 7:30pm
Created and directed by Jamie Bradley and Vicki Igbokwe, the team behind Provok’d: A Restoration, devised together with the Company of Guildhall School.

A club night. A secret. A moment to shine. Figures converse through House music for an epic ride of rhythm and connection. But when brutal truths are revealed, the nocturnal crowd must check more than their bodies at the door. 

As an ill-fated love story emerges, the bombastic dance scene sheds new light on hidden histories, the natural habits of orcas, and the complexities of negotiating one’s chosen family.

This unique live-stream production, created and developed with the cast of Guildhall School actors, weaves together bold street-style choreography and a colourful array of characters within an immersive club setting.

This production contains strong language and possible use of strobe lighting.


BROADCAST LIVE: Opera Triple Bill: Mascagni Zanetto; Wolf-Ferrari Il segreto di Susanna (Susanna’s Secret); Donizetti Rita (Two men and a woman): Four performances Monday 2 – Monday 9 November, 7pm
A triple bill of darkly comic Italian operas, exploring troubling romantic relationships and escapist fantasies in the interwoven lives of three Florentine women. This new Guildhall School production, directed by Stephen Medcalf, reimagines these challenging and thought-provoking stories for the present day.

Susanna is suspected by her controlling husband of having an affair when he smells smoke on her clothes, but is that really her secret in this tale of marital misunderstanding? 

Silvia is trapped in the luxurious but unfulfilling life of an escort, and longs for the innocence of true love. When she meets the man of her dreams it seems this wish has been answered, but will she follow her heart?

Rita believes she has lost her abusive husband at sea, and now reflects his bullying nature onto her downtrodden new spouse. When the first husband reappears unexpectedly, the two men must decide – who is the most deserving of her? 

Lyrical and tuneful music features throughout these skilfully written, one-act works, which were composed between 1841 and 1909. 


Guildhall School’s pioneering BA (Hons) Performance and Creative Enterprise (PACE) programme was established in 2015 as a joint initiative between Guildhall and the Barbican with the aim of training visionary, socially engaged, multi-disciplinary, autonomous artists.

Real Talk: A new conversations series curated and hosted by Paula Varjack, on Wednesdays throughout the season, 23 September – 2 December, 6pm

“For those of us who face marginalisation for our race, sexuality, class, age, gender, disability or an intersection of these, how can we use our experiences to empower the next generation of agitators?”

Multi-disciplinary artist and Guildhall tutor, Paula Varjack, curates and hosts a brand-new series of conversations in collaboration with PACE students.

These informal conversations, streamed via Instagram Live, will invite practitioners who have made things happen for themselves and who push for social change through their practice to share advice, experience and ideas with the next generation.

Speakers include Conrad Murray (23 September), Travis Alabanza (7 October, as part of the Chapters festival), Pauline Mayers (21 October), Demi Nandhra (4 November), Liv Wynter (18 November) and Debris Stevenson (2 December).

ChaptersThe BA PACE Final Performances, Wednesday 7 – Friday 9 October, 6pm

The graduating BA PACE class of 2020 present an eclectic festival of brand-new performance. From immersive soundscapes to spoken word and rap theatre, and from experimental short films to interactive gameshows, Chapters celebrates the plurality, politics and ferocious power of PACE. Full event listings and artist info to follow.

On Wednesday 7 October, Paula Varjack hosts Real Talk with Travis Alabanza, the second in a series of conversations created in collaboration with PACE students.  

Please note that some of the Chapters performances contain explicit language and themes. More detailed information about content to follow.


Gold Medal Final: Saturday 26 September, 7pm 

The Gold Medal is the School’s most prestigious prize for musicians. It was endowed by Sir H. Dixon Kimber in 1915 and since the 1950s has been open to singers and instrumentalists in alternate years: this year is the turn of the instrumentalists. Rescheduled from May 2020 due to COVID-19, the finalists perform a concerto of their choice with Guildhall Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Richard Farnes. Pianist Soohong Park performs Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor; cellist Ben Tarlton performs Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor; and pianist Ke Ma performs Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor

Guildhall Chamber Orchestra: Friday 23 October, 7:30pm

Joshua Weilerstein conducts Guildhall Chamber Orchestra in a concert of neo-Classical music: Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw’s 2011 work Entr’acte, Prokofiev’s ever-popular Symphony No. 1 ‘Classical’ and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella – a ballet premiered exactly 100 years ago by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.

Guildhall Symphony Orchestra: Saturday 7 November, 7:30pm

Award-winning Australian-British conductor Jessica Cottis has caught international attention for her intellect, dynamism, innate musicality, and easy authority. She conducts the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra in an exhilarating programme of Missy Mazzoli’s Violent, Violent Sea alongside Janáček’s famous, brass-filled Sinfonietta and Sibelius’s glorious Symphony No. 1.

Songs at Six: Tuesday 24 November – Thursday 10 December, 6pm

There are six concerts in the Songs at Six series this season, beginning with a performance of Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin curated by Guildhall alumnus Roderick Williams (24 November). The following concerts include Iain Burnside exploring the poetry of Emily Dickinson (26 November); Julian Drake directing the complete songs of Barber (3 December); Graham Johnson celebrating the publication of his new book Poulenc: The Life in the Songs (4 December); and pianist Eugene Asti marking Beethoven’s 250th anniversary with an exploration of his influence on 18th and 20th century song (9 December). The final concert in the series celebrates the 150th anniversary of Spanish Romantic poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (10 December). 


A host of prestigious artists visit the School this autumn to give masterclasses to senior Guildhall musicians. These include: Stephen Hough (29 September); Jonathan Dove (13 October); Imogen Cooper (27 October); Alison Bauld (28 October); Paul Lewis (18 November); Roderick Williams (24 November); Tobias Truniger (7 December); and Kate Royal (10 December).


A History of Big Band1920s – Emergence: Friday 30 October, 7:30pm

A History of Big Band: 1930s – Velocity: Friday 11 December, 7:30pm

Clarinettist and founding member of Kansas Smitty’s, Giacomo Smith, joins the Guildhall Big Band to launch their 2020/21 series of performances exploring big band music through the ages. This special concert will feature interviews with Smith, Matt Skelton and members of the Guildhall Big Band, as well as a full performance of music from the birth of big band. For the second concert of the series, Guildhall Big Band are joined by guest Pete Long for an exploration of early swing, featuring the music of the Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington Orchestras. This concert also features a specially arranged vocal ensemble set from the Guildhall Jazz Singers directed by Scott Stroman

The Dankworth & Harvey Awards Concert: Thursday 5 November, 8pm

Guildhall School is honoured to be the host of this year’s Dankworth and Eddie Harvey Awards. The awards are administered and funded by The Musicians’ Company with the support of The Wavendon Foundation and friends and family of Eddie Harvey. 

The 2020 winners are:
Eddie LeeDean (Dankworth Big Band prize)
Alex PaxtonBye (Dankworth Small Ensemble prize)
Tom Niblock: Berlin (by Olly Clark) (Eddie Harvey Arranger’s prize)

Following the presentation of the Awards the Guildhall Jazz Orchestra, directed by Scott Stroman, will perform the three winning works, before being joined by celebrated saxophonist Cennet Jönsson to perform his stunning Tarantula Suite

Guildhall Autumn Jazz Festival: Monday 9 – Friday 13 November

A week-long festival celebrating the wealth of creativity and originality within the Guildhall Jazz department. The festival will showcase emerging talent and new voices from the School’s thriving and eclectic community, and feature performances by current and past students. The full line up will be announced at the end of September.

Guildhall Live Events

Creatures of Light at LUMEN: Crewe’s Night of Lights: Friday 27 November – Saturday 12 December, Christ Church, Crewe

Lightpool Festival: Friday 16 – Saturday 31 October, The Old Post Office, Blackpool 

Guildhall Live Events’ brand-new projection mapping animation Creatures of the Light will be presented at two illumination events this Autumn: on the façade of Crewe’s Christ Church as part of LUMEN: Crewe’s Night of Lights from 27 November – 12 December and on The Old Post Office in Blackpool as part of the Lightpool Festival from 16–31 October.

Creatures of the Light follows a group of curious animals on a journey of discovery. As well as using typical architectural projection mapping techniques that see the building shift and transform in front of the audience’s eyes, the work will also incorporate traditional animation and illustration to create a charming and beautiful narrative structure – the wow factor of projection mapping with the heart of a short film.

Also as part of the Lightpool Festival, the School will light up St John’s Church in Blackpool with a new projection show focusing on our relationship with the sun throughout human history. Incorporating stunning visual effects such as solar flares, the projection will see the church transformed into a space craft.

These are outdoor, live public events.


Research at Guildhall School explores fundamental questions about the creative arts. It embraces a wide range of disciplines within music and drama including composition, performance, pedagogy, institution studies, historical musicology, music and literature studies, cultural history, electronic music, creative writing and music therapy. Throughout the term, the department runs a regular series of Research Works events that are open to all, this autumn these events will be broadcast live for free via Zoom. 

The series begins with a seminar co-hosted by The Institute of Latin American Studies (School of Advanced Studies, University of London) exploring The Songs of Pedro Ximénez Abril Y Tirado: Poetry and art music in postcolonial Bolivia (22 September).

Two of the sessions will be presented in association with the Institute for Social Impact Research in the Performing Arts – Displaced Voices: Giving voice through orchestral composition (19 October) and Group Vocal Improvisation in Music Therapy: Clinical and theoretical considerations (26 October). Further information about these and many more Research Works events this season can be found here.

All Autumn term events will be streamed free of charge on Guildhall School’s website. If viewers wish to support the School, they are welcome to donate to the Scholarships Fund. The donation link and more information can be found here

More details on how long each performance will be available online will be announced over the coming weeks.

Guildhall School of Music & Drama is provided by the City of London Corporation.

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