Pull Out All the Stops – Schools Film

Lambeth and Durham school children learn about the organ, April 2013Watch footage of Lambeth and Durham school children learning about the Royal Festival Hall organ.

Alongside the restoration of the Royal Festival Hall organ Southbank Centre is undertaking a learning programme exploring the organ and documenting its return. As part of this project, we are delighted to share with you a film made by schoolchildren from Lambeth and Durham about their visit to the Royal Festival Hall in January 2013 and to the organ builders Harrison & Harrison in February 2013.

Listen to the International Piano Series podcast with Mitsuko Uchida

Mitsuko Uchida talks about the strangeness of Schumann, her piano collection and her interval snack of choice.

You can hear Mitsuko Uchida perform a recital of Schumann, Schoenberg and Bach on Tuesday 15 January 2013, 7.30pm at Royal Festival Hall.

Find out more / book tickets


Listen to the International Piano Series podcast with Alice Sara Ott

The young German pianist Alice Sara Ott talks from Japan (via Skype) about Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’, her sense of home, and the Rubix cube.

You can hear Alice Sara Ott in her Royal Festival Hall debut performance on Tuesday 12 February 2013, as part of the International Piano Series.

Find out more/book tickets

Watch Alice Sara Ott perform Pictures at an Exhibition

You can see Alice Sara Ott perform Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ at Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday 12 February, 7.30pm.

Find out more/book tickets


With just a few days left to go until the Choir of the Year 2012 Grand Final at Royal Festival Hall, we caught up with show’s presenter Josie d’Arby ahead of the big day.

You’re going to be presenting at the Choir of the Year 2012 Grand Final this Sunday. What are you most looking forward to about the concert?
This is my fourth time presenting on this competition and I think the thing that always impresses me the most is the that the competition always brings out the best in these already excellent choirs. They seem to thrive on the pressure and no matter how well they’ve sung in the heats, something about the final brings out even more. It makes it a joy for the music lover but also a thrilling competition.

Can you tell us anything about the music we can expect to hear being performed?
Let’s just say the ladies are very well represented this year and everyone has gone for a repertoire which will both challenge them and entertain the audience. Should be a gorgeous afternoon.

Have you ever performed as part of a choir / a musical ensemble
I have , I have been in church choirs and I was also part of the choir at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for three years, so I know very well how wonderful it feels to sing as part of an ensemble and how you all lean on each other. And when you get it right: it’s magical.

Did you find performing as part of an ensemble to be particularly rewarding experience?
Incredibly rewarding , being part of any team has its own unique specialness, the friendships forged and of course it’s a lovely social activity but above all playing your part in the whole, is the essence of what teamwork is about and a lovely thing to experience

What other talents or skills would you like to possess?
Haha, I’m something of a jack of all trades and put a lot of effort into a lot of different things – still I would like to be a better singer. I used to sing a lot, it used to be my main thing but I haven’t sung in such a long time that my instrument is somewhat rusty and that muscle very weak. Still I get a thrill listening to others who have honed their craft.

Is there a piece of music you would pick out as one of the ‘best’ works ever written?
For a music lover such as myself that is an impossible question. To narrow it down, In terms of choral music, I would say I like the classics, like Handel’s Messiah , it’s so stirring but equally a good gospel choir can send chills down your spine. When the music and the meaning come together wonderful things can happen for the listener.

And is there a work that is for you, emotionally, especially important?
Again so many , when I listen to music I really open myself up and allow it to have the desired effect on me, there are so many pieces that bring to the fore so many wonderful emotions, again it would be impossible to narrow it down. I have a soft spot for strings though, in all their forms….

If you could programme your ideal Southbank Centre show, which artists (living or dead) would you bring together?
These questions are so hard, my taste is so eclectic but Nina Simone would be there, Van Morrison, Berlin philharmonic Andre Rieu and Yanna.

What is the most played piece of music on your mp3 player or in your CD collection?
Possibly ‘ a love before time’ from the ‘crouching tiger hidden dragon’ soundtrack a lovely song called ‘the promise’ by Yanna and Gold by spandau ballet – random I know.

Do you have any strange rituals you carry out before appearing on stage?
I like to say a little prayer and give thanks for the opportunity to once again do something I enjoy so much


Limited tickets are still available for the Choir of the Year 2012 Grand Final.
CLICK HERE to buy yours!
To find out more about the competition, you can visit: www.choiroftheyear.co.uk


Following the exciting Category Finals that took place last week, we are thrilled to announce that the six finalists for Choir of the Year!


Children’s Choir of the Year:
Lindley Junior School Choir from Huddersfield

Youth Choir of the Year:
Methodist College Girls’ Choir from Belfast

Adult Choir of the Year:
Surrey Hills Chamber Choir

Open Choir of the Year:
Oxford Gargoyles

Les Sirenes from Glasgow
Ysgol Glanaethwy Senior Choir, Bangor

Come and hear them all, plus special guests The Swingle Singers at the Royal Festival Hall on 28 October. The Grand Final will be broadcast by BBC FOUR and BBC Radio 3.

For more information and to book tickets for the event click here

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Interviews Natasha Paremski

Ahead of next week’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra concert on Tuesday 16 October,  Hannah Nepil caught up with pianist Natasha Paremski for the RPO’s Ovation newsletter. Here is the piece below:

‘As a little girl I dreamt about playing Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto,’ says Natasha Paremski. She has been performing it since she was fifteen and now, ten years on, she will play it again for her Southbank Centre debut with the RPO. But while admitting that the concerto is still one of her favourite pieces, Paremski’s approach to it has matured over time: ‘the music is so thrilling that often we can get selfish about the way we play it, and not actually connect with the audience. So I find it rewarding to go back to the score and see what this piece is all about.’

At only twenty five, this pianist speaks from experience. By now her CV includes gigs with orchestras such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and, of course, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom she has been playing since 2010. Born in Moscow, she first crawled to the piano at the age of two. ‘I started playing on it almost every day,’ she says, ‘so eventually my parents said ‘We’re not listening to this any more, she’s going to start playing some real music.’

Though talented, she stopped playing when she was eight years old,  after her family moved to California. ‘In Russia (lessons) were paid for by the government. In the USA it’s out of your own pocket and it’s very expensive,’ she says, ‘so my parents had no money even for a piano, and no money for lessons.’ Nevertheless, she soon resumed. ‘After a year I started to feel incredibly sad. And I thought, ‘I can’t live without it. It’s really killing me’’

Not that she was always an obedient student. ‘If my teachers’ expectations had nothing to do with what I felt about the score, I challenged them. And there were times when, if they insisted, I’d storm out of the room. I’d call my mother and say, ‘I’m done with the lesson. I want to go home.’’

Paremski spent a lot of time discovering the piano for herself without a teacher, so it’s just as well that she was self-motivated. ‘My parents were not stage-parents. If I was being lazy my mom made sure I knew it but I had the option of dropping the piano,’ she tells me, ‘I just loved practising.’ And she still does. ‘It’s like I’m only half awake or half alive when I don’t play the piano,’ she tells me. ‘Playing is like a drug. A new kind of reality. It’s a total hallucinogen.’