For a few weeks each summer, this all changes. The City of London Festival sees venues throughout the square mile open themselves for a world-class array of concerts and events. And what venues they are, from the unbeatable grandeur of St Paul’s Cathedral to the open air spaces nestled between towering corporate headquarters. Who could refuse the opportunity to hear live music in one of Christopher Wren’s astounding churches or a hidden-away medieval guild hall?
This year’s season, which runs from 22 June to 10 July, promises to continue the festival’s consistently high standards. Although the whole line-up is yet to be announced, early glimmers suggest some very special appearances indeed. Here are a smattering of highlights.
2015 Classical Highlights
Each year, the City celebrates an international connection. This year, it’s the turn of Singapore, and several ticketed concerts and free events will revolve around the Far Eastern island nation. A high point of this theme looks to be the 29 June appearance of the T’ang Quartet with pianist Melvyn Tan, both renowned around the world for revitalizing the Western canon. Within the grandeur of the Merchant Taylor’s Hall, they will perform an evening programme of Dvorak, Janacek and Liszt.
Not even the Queen can boast a tube station named directly after her home, but in Mansion House the Lord Mayor of London has just that. The official residence of the City’s ceremonial leader, the grand Palladian structure is seldom open to the public. On the evening of 30 June, however, it will play host to the celebrated tenor Ian Bostridge as he begins his collaboration with piano maestro Andreas Haefliger. Along with Schumann’s great Liederkreis, they will perform lieder by Hugo Wolff and Friedrich Gulda, based like Schumann’s cycle on the tales of the poet von Eichendorff. Book now – tickets will soon be gone.
There is no venue in London equal to St Paul’s baroque splendour, and so no better setting for Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610. The most ambitious choral work of its century, the Vespers move from large-scale chorus to intimate solos, all composed with breathtaking grace. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and their Choir, amongst the leading specialists in this music, will perform them on the 2 July. And if that's not enough, on 24 June, the cathedral will pay host to an equally great ensemble – the LSO – for a performance of an equally humongous work, Haydn’s oratorio The Creation.
The free events are equally tantalising. From Tuesday to Friday for the duration of the festival, students from the nearby Guildhall School of Music will perform highlights of the repertoire at a different city church each day. And on the 27 June, there will be a sixteen-hour choral marathon around seventeen of Wren's churches, beginning at 8am and leading to a final 12am vespers.
|What||City of London Festival 2015|
|Nearest tube||Bank (underground)|
22 Jun 15 – 10 Jul 15, 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here to book via the City of London Festival website|