Come down to Southbank Centre this weekend and try some Boulez

This weekend we celebrate the music of Pierre Boulez. Boulez’s music fuses scientific precision with gorgeous, fluid sound. Boulez himself comments that ‘creation must express a certain transcendence’. He explains that ‘For me a musical idea is like a seed which you plant in compost, and suddenly it begins to proliferate like a weed.’


The festival kicks off tonight with the Royal Academy of Music performing two versions of the same work, which illustrate how Boulez’s music has evolved across the years.



London Sinfonietta presents a concert of electronic music with Sound Intermedia on Saturday night in Queen Elizabeth Hall. Hear almost all of Boulez’s piano works performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich on Sunday.

The weekend draws to a close when Boulez in person where he conducts his masterpiece Pli selon pli with soprano Barbara Hannigan, Ensemble intercontemporain and the Lucerne Festival Academy Ensemble. 


Check out our online classical music guide

Welcome to Southbank Centre’s 2011/12 classical music season packed with
musical greats, firsts and concerts from our four world-class Resident Orchestras. Visit our online guide to take you through our packed programme!
We kicked off the season in full swing with a sold out performance from Apartment House of John Cage Night as part of International Chamber Music Season. Read Guardian review

Southbank Centre Resident Orchestras London Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra have launched their seasons with principal conductors Vladimir Jurowski and Esa-Pekka Salonen and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment launch their season this evening with a concert featuring Robert Levin and Charles Hazelwood followed by their late-night series, The Night Shift at 10pm.

This weekend Southbank Centre celebrates the music of Pierre Boulez featuring Resident Orchestra London Sinfonietta, Royal Academy of Music, almost all of Boulez’s works performed by pianists Aimard and Stefanovich, culminating in the launch of Shell Classic International, bringing great orchestras from around the world to Royal Festival Hall on Sunday with Ensemble intercontemporain, soprano Barbara Hannigan and Boulez himself performing Pli selon pli.

Explore the programme and pick out your favourites with our online guide.

Speed interview with Charles Hazlewood- here tonight

What/when was your big breakthrough? Winning the European Broadcasting Union Conducting Competition in 1995


What do you fear the most? Losing my children

What – or where – is perfection? At the end of the rainbow I guess, or in Mozart’s Magic Flute

Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why? Withnail (from the film Withnail & I) because he’s a very flawed (sort of) genius whose own worst enemy is most definitely himself.

What’s your favourite ritual? Story telling or making risotto

Which living person do you most admire (and why)? Nelson Mandela

What other talent or skill would you like to possess? Malibu surfing

What is the most important lesson life has taught you? To breathe

What is the most played piece of music on your MP3 player or in your CD collection? The slow movement of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante K364, Sibongile Khumalo live at the Market Theatre and Radiohead’s Paranoid Android, even stevens

What’s the best thing about working with the OAE? The sound and the way they listen

Charles conducts the OAE tonight in the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Buy tickets / More info


Listen to our podcast on Pierre Boulez

This weekend we celebrate the music of Pierre Boulez featruing performances from London Sinfonietta, The Royal Academy of Music, Pierre-Laurent Aimard in our festival Exquisite Labyrinth. The weekend culimates in a performance from Ensemble intercontemporain conducted by Pierre Boulez with his masterpiece Pli selon pli featuring Barbara Hannigan.

Our podcast features Southbank Centre’s Head of Contemporary Culture Gillian Moore, pianist Pierre Laurent-Aimard, Clio Gould and Nico Muhly.

More info on Exquisite Labyrinth

Introducing The Works

William Norris from our Resident Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, introduces their new concert series, The Works

Many of you will know of, or will have been to, one of our Night Shift events. We introduced these late-night concerts about 5 years ago, for a number of reasons – the prime one being that we wanted to appeal to a different audience to that which comes along at 7pm. But also at the OAE we like experimenting and trying new things – and the idea of a late-night informal concert simply appealed to us. As evidenced by the fact we’re still doing them 5 years later, the series has been a great success, but a year ago we started thinking ‘what next’?

When I say ‘what next’ I mean in terms of types of concert. We really like the idea of varying the concert format, so that we have a range of things that appeal to different people. We already have our ‘standard’ 7pm concerts, the Night Shift and also our amazingly popular Tots events. So we started thinking about other ideas. A shortlist was drawn up, we debated it at a board meeting, and we decided to go for something which at the time was called an ‘explorer’ concert.

The idea from this is evolved from a couple of one-off events we’ve had with conductors Iván Fischer and Marin Alsop in past seasons, where they have deconstructed a piece of music before we give a performance of it. But the concept also evolved from what some Night Shift focus groups had told us. In those groups we actually had some attenders who were somewhat older than the typical Night Shift audience. Like others in the focus groups they weren’t actually that keen on traditional classical concerts, but they came because they liked the event and its informality. However some of them did say that it was a little too late for them and that they felt they didn’t quite fit in with the studenty audience. So this made us think…we could develop something almost midway between a 7pm concert and a Night Shift. Something informal, welcoming and approachable, but perhaps a bit more structured than a Night Shift, but incorporating lots of ideas from it nonetheless.

So, after an office-wide brainstorm to find a name The Works was born. The concept is not rocket science. The heart of it is a concert at 8pm, that lasts around 80 minutes, with no interval. In the first part of the concert the presenter and conductor or soloist will give the audience a ‘guided tour’ of the featured piece of music, movement by movement. Then there’s time for a Q+A and then a full performance of it. Drinks will be allowed in and we hope some of the informal atmosphere of the Night Shift will ensue. Before the concert, from 7pm we have some jazz in the bar as a way to start people’s evening off and then after the concert our Education Director, Cherry, will lead a ‘speed-date-the-OAE’ session, which is basically a flash way of enabling the audience to meet the Orchestra (all will be explained on the night)!

Our first one is coming up soon on 4 October at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, for which we’re fortunate to be joined by pianist Robert Levin, who is such an amazing speaker. He’ll be playing and introducing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.23 – a great piece to start the series with.

It’s an experiment, and like when we first started the Night Shift, we’re bound to fine-tune it performance-by-performance. But if you’re curious, come along – and even better, drag a classical music sceptic along with you too!

There’ll shortly be a mini-site for The Works but in the meantime there’s more info here , you can book tickets here, and lastly, you can join the Facebook group for the series here.

Watch Philharmonia Orchestra’s video: behind the scenes with Salonen

Watch Philharmonia’s behind-the-scenes film as Esa-Pekka Salonen prepares for a performance of Sibelius’s ‘choral’ symphony, Kullervo, based on a dark tale from the Finnish epic, the Kalevala. Salonen travelled to Uppsala, Sweden to rehearse with the male choir, Orphei Drängar, who feature prominently in the piece.


This concert opens the Philharmonia Orchestra’s 2011/12 London Season at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. Get tickets here. 


Listen to the LPO’s latest podcast: Scriabin’s Prometheus, Poem of Fire

The Greek myth of Prometheus has attracted composers over the centuries, including Beethoven, Liszt, Nono and Scriabin. The London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Principal Conductor, Vladimir Jurowski explores the myth, and in particular the visionary work created by Scriabin – Prometheus, Poem of Fire, which has claim to be the first true ‘multi-media’ work for orchestra and light. The music of Scriabin is itself a blaze of colour, and the LPO’s Composer in Residence Julian Anderson introduces the musical soundworld.

Listen here:
Scriabin’s Prometheus, Poem of Fire

Hear the London Philharmonic Orchestra on Saturday 24 September at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. Get tickets here.