LONDON C26 June to 16 July Each summer the City of London Festival brings the City’s unique buildings and outdoor spaces to life with an extensive artistic programme of music, visual arts, film, walks and talks, much of it free to the public. Inaugurated in 1962 to revitalise the cultural life of the City it has established itself as one of the UK’s leading arts events. The Festival entertains all those that live, work and visit this special location with unique events and world-class artists in beautiful surroundings. Discover the Festival, uncover the City.
The City of London Festival was founded in 1962 as an independent trust supported equally by the business community, the City of London Corporation, and the general public, with the aim of revitalising the cultural life of the City. Since then it has become established as one of the UK’s leading arts events, widely broadcast by the BBC and much written about in the press.
Music and arts from Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific animate the cathedrals, livery halls, gardens and squares of the City of London – with added birdsong!
Premiéres include the orchestral version of Brett Dean’s Between the Spaces in the Sky by the City of London Sinfonia, Elena Kats-Chernin’s River’s Lament for The King’s Singers, the Royal New Zealand Ballet at the Barbican and Liminal’s outdoor music installation Organ of Corti.
Music and culture from Australasia are celebrated throughout this year’s Festival as part of Festival Director Ian Ritchie’s annual Trading Places theme. The Festival opens on 26 June with A Fifteen Piano Salute to Grainger – Luke Jerram’s Street Pianos ring out some of the Australian maestro’s best-known works in a promenade performance at Peter’s Hill, St Paul’s and Paternoster Square.
t is an unprecedented array of music from Australia and New Zealand with over 30 living composers represented. World-renowned Australian guitarist John Williams and the English Chamber Orchestra present works by Peter Sculthorpe and Ross Edwards at Guildhall Old Library (27 June). Australia’s foremost didjeridu player William Barton joins the Choir of Southwark Cathedral to give the London premiére of a new version of Peter Sculthorpe’s Requiem conducted by Peter Wright at Southwark Cathedral (4 July) and appears with pianist Piers Lane at Apothecaries’ Hall (1 July) and the Goldner String Quartet at Goldsmiths’ Hall (6 July). The King’s Singers give the world premiére of Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin’s River’s Lament at Mansion House (7 July). New Zealand-born organist Dame Gillian Weir and soprano Anna Leese perform with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Simone Young at St Paul’s (12 July). Maori instrumentalist Richard Nunns performs with The New Zealand Quartet String Quartet at Haberdashers’ Hall (13 July) and the NZTrio at Butchers’ Hall (14 July).
Peerless venues give the City of London Festival its very particular flavour. Concerts and events take place in some of the City’s most ancient and beautiful spaces including Wren churches, the two great cathedrals of St Paul’s and Southwark, the medieval Guildhall and Gresham College as well as the squares, parks and gardens of the Square Mile. Unique to the Festival is the opportunity to visit the City’s often exquisite livery halls, usually closed to the public. New to the Festival this year are Girdlers’ Hall and Butchers’ Hall, with their historical connections to Australia and New Zealand.
The Festival’s relationship with the Barbican continues as the venue plays host to the first-ever London New Zealand Film Festival (1 to 3 July) and the Royal New Zealand Ballet with the London premiére of a triple bill by home-grown talent Andrew Simmons, Finnish-born Jorma Elo and the UK’s Javier de Frutos (14 to 16 July).
The Festival’s programme of free outdoor events features the world premiére of Liminal’s extraordinaryOrgan of Corti, winner of the £50,000 PRS New Music award. This four-metre tall installation of transparent sonic crystals absorbs the City’s traffic and building noise and transforms it into music, creating subtly shifting harmonies which resonate through Carter Lane Gardens (3 to 7 July). Other highlights include Waka on the Thames, an ornate Maori war canoe crewed by 16 Maoris from New Zealand’s Toi Maori and London’s Ngati Ranana communities (1 July), the Origins Family Day on Hampstead Heath (3 July) and the return of Luke Jerram’s Play Me I’m Yours Street Pianos (various venues 26 June to 6 July).