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What we’ve seen, London

  • Date: 26 April 2013
  • Area: London

Each month we see as much as possible of the work produced by the hundreds of artists, organisations and projects we fund across the capital - as well as take part ourselves too. This month our staff have picked their highlights.

Spring Residency of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain

The culmination of the Spring Residency of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, took place at the Royal Festival Hall on Saturday 13 April.  The National Youth Orchestra has recently joined the Arts Council's portfolio as one of eight National Youth Music Organisations which are based all over England. 

The programme included some slightly lesser known works by Korngold (Captain Blood) and a great performance of the Symphonic Dances by Rachmaninov.  The orchestra was also joined by The Navarra String Quartet for a performance of the Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra by Schoenberg.

The programme celebrated 1930s and '40s Hollywood and was part of Southbank Centre's festival The Rest is Noise which explores the history of the 20th century, with its massive social and political upheavals, through concerts, performances, films, talks and debates.

The concert was lively and upbeat and it was fantastic to see the complete ensemble of all 167 or so musicians on the stage. The orchestra was joined on this occasion by guest conductor, Simone Young, who brought amazing energy and vibrancy to the performance.  A very enjoyable programme with many familiar faces present.

Louise Cleverdon, Relationship Manager, Music

'The Memory of WT Stead' by Lundahl&Seitl and Cassie Yukawa, commissioned by Nomad and Montblanc Cultural Foundation

Like past work by Lundahl&Seitl, this site-specific piece, supported by Grants for the arts, relied on sensory deprivation to create a waking dream of an experience. Audience members gathered at the Steinway & Sons showrooms in Marylebone; a room full of grand pianos. Once wearing blindfolds and headphones, we were led by a recorded voice - and sometimes by a hand, on a journey through the building.

Seeing the experience with our minds rather than our eyes meant that, once blindfolds were removed, the live sequences were all the more revelatory - particularly a beautiful piano recital by concert pianist Cassie Yukawa of music by Ligeti. Whether considered as an art installation or immersive theatre, participants left with heightened senses - especially a sense of wonder at the way space, time, experience and mood had been transformed through the work's artistry.

James Hadley, Relationship Manager, Theatre