Music x Museums

presented by
ORCHESTRAS
MUSEUMS

Concerts

1 April, 20:00
V&A

Lully Le Bourgeois gentilhomme - Overture (arr. A. Gies)
Cavalli 'Lucidissima face' from La Calisto
Handel 'Siam prossimi al porto' from Rinaldo
Handel 'Furibondo spira il vento' from Partenope
Caroline Shaw Entr’acte
Handel 'Cara sposa' from Rinaldo
Handel 'Agitato da fiere tempeste' from Riccardo Primo
Stravinsky Apollo

Academy of St Martin in the Fields
Jakub Józef Orliński - countertenor
Oliver Zeffman - conductor

Programme information

The V&A exhibition Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear celebrates the power, artistry and diversity of masculine attire and appearance, organised into three areas: Undressed, Overdressed and Redressed. These aspects are reflected in three contrasting pieces for orchestra, and several arias featuring a countertenor – a male voice that occupies a range now associated with female singers.

While several of these countertenor roles were written for castrati, the aria ‘Siam prossimi al porto’ from Handel’s Rinaldo originally featured a contralto (low-voiced female) playing a man. Gender roles are flipped again in this performance by world-renowned countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński.

Lully’s overture to Le Bourgeois gentilhomme sets the scene for Molière’s play – a satire of social-climbing middle classes and snobbish aristocracy of Louis XIV's France, for whom flamboyance and vanity ruled supreme.

Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte is a modern redressing of the 18th-century Classical minuet and trio.

Stravinsky’s Apollo stepped away from early 20th-century modernist excess to create an undressed, stripped-back neoclassical style. It is paired here with a cast of the Apollo Belvedere that is displayed in the V&A's Fashioning Masculinities exhibition.

For more information and tickets, visit the V&A website
22 April, 20:00
British Library

Beethoven Symphony No. 6, 'Pastoral'
Beethoven Choral Fantasy

Academy of St Martin in the Fields
The Bach Choir
Peter Donohoe - piano
Hilary Cronin - soprano
Aiofe Miskelly - soprano
Angela Simkin - mezzo-soprano
Nick Pritchard - tenor
Alexander Aldren - tenor
Ross Ramgobin - baritone
Oliver Zeffman - conductor

Programme information

The British Library’s exhibition Beethoven: Idealist. Innovator. Icon. features the first editions of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, ‘Pastoral’ and his Choral Fantasy for piano, choir and orchestra, both of which are performed in this programme. A utopian model of inclusion, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy was intended to bring together all performers (even the soloist) in total unity, for maximum musical effect; while the ‘Pastoral’ Symphony is Beethoven’s monument to nature.

For more information and tickets, visit the British Library website
17 May, 20:00
Science Museum

George Benjamin Canon & Fugue (from Bach The Art of Fugue)
William Marsey Why Do You Grieve (world premiere)
Birtwistle Tragoedia
Terry Riley In C

Oliver Zeffman - conductor

Programme information

Stephen Hawking’s scientific explorations delved into the nature of time itself and our perceptions of it. For composers, time is the medium through which their works are experienced by performers and audience alike. Bach’s fugues create coherence out of interlocking musical lines, each of which is independent of the others and moving in its own timeframe – yet which make perfect sense in combination. Birtwistle’s Tragoedia combines different groups of instruments to achieve the opposite, with each player in his own temporal world. Terry Riley’s hypnotic 1964 work In C is scored for any number of musicians, and is often cited as the first significant minimalist piece of music. Ordered chaos – not unlike the concept of entropy used so frequently in theoretical physics – is a key component of this piece, which takes shape thanks to the whim of the performers. 53 musical segments, all based on a few notes of the C major scale, are repeated any number of times, each musician moving at their own pace; it is almost wilfully random, yet there are moments of synchronicity and order.

NFT release

William Marsey’s Why Do You Grieve is the very first orchestral piece commissioned for an NFT release, and has been created in partnership with Async Art. Async is a digital art platform that specialises in ‘programmable media’, a new and experimental art movement that empowers artists to make artworks that can evolve over time. This performance of Why Do You Grieve – recorded live at the Science Museum – presents the programmable artwork in only one of its possible versions. It has been composed in such a way that it can be broken into independent layers of sound – the drone, the harp, the harmonics, the string chords – each of which can be extracted, manipulated, and reincorporated into a new whole. After this performance, in keeping with this concert's exploration of time in music, these constituting layers will be separated out, stretched, compressed, reordered, and recombined to create over 1000 possible different unique versions of the piece. A limited number of these many unique versions of Why Do We Grieve will be made available to the public this summer on Async. These will be available to buy using both cryptocurrency and fiat money, thanks to Wert, who provide an easy solution to purchasing cryptocurrencies and NFTs with a credit card.

For more information and tickets, visit the Science Museum website
12 July, 20:00
Cutty Sark

Williams Sea Sketches
Elgar Sea Pictures
Thomas Adès Shanty - Over the Sea
Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Dame Sarah Connolly - mezzo-soprano
Oliver Zeffman - conductor

Programme information

The sea’s ever-changing nature, from destructive turbulence to serenity, has inspired musicians throughout the ages. Elgar’s Sea Pictures for singer and orchestra presents five songs, each a setting of a poem about the sea; the last of these, The Swimmer by Adam Lindsay Gordon, was written in 1970 - the same year the Cutty Sark entered service. This is complemented by Grace Williams' Sea Sketches and Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, as well as Thomas Adès’ rousing Shanty – Over the Sea.

For more information and tickets, visit the Royal Museums Greenwich

Orchestras

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Performing approximately 200 concerts each season and with a worldwide audience of more than half-a-million people, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) embraces a broad repertoire that enables it to reach the most diverse audience of any British symphony orchestra. Whilst artistic integrity remains paramount, the RPO is unafraid to push boundaries and is equally at home recording video game, film and television soundtracks and working with pop stars, as it is performing the great symphonic repertoire.

Academy of
St Martin in the Fields

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields is one of the world’s finest chamber orchestras, renowned for fresh, brilliant interpretations of the world’s greatest orchestral music. Through unrivalled live performances and a vast recording output of over 500 releases, the name and sound of the Academy is known and loved by classical audiences throughout the world. Under the direction of virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell and with the support of Leader/Director Tomo Keller, the Academy continues to push the boundaries of player-directed performance to new heights, presenting symphonic repertoire and chamber music on a grand scale at prestigious venues around the globe.

Museums

The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity. The Museum holds many of the UK's national collections and houses some of the greatest resources for the study of architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewellery, glass, ceramics, book arts, Asian art and design, theatre and performance.

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and gives access to the world’s most comprehensive research collection. Our collection of over 170 million items includes artefacts from every age of written civilisation. We keep the nation’s archive of printed and digital publications, adding around three million new items to our collection every year.

Royal Museums Greenwich comprises the Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum and Queen’s House. We are also home to The Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre and the Caird Library and Archive. Together we’re dedicated to enriching people’s understanding of the sea, the exploration of space, and Britain's role in world history.

The Science Museums aims to inspire visitors with award-winning exhibitions, iconic objects and stories of incredible scientific achievement. The Science Museum’s world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical advancement from across the globe.

About the Series

Music x Museums presented by Viking is an immersive new concert series, inviting audiences into London’s most iconic cultural institutions to experience performances blending classical music with the capital’s most impressive architecture and collections of art.

Particularly when all the arts have been so badly hit over the last two years, collaboration between different art forms and institutions is more important than ever. Music x Museums presented by Viking aims to be a meaningful way of reigniting cultural activity and bringing audiences back to the heart of London.

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Oliver Zeffman

Widely seen as one of the most intrepid young conductors working today, Oliver Zeffman regularly works with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. His recent and upcoming debuts include engagements with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestre national d'Île-de-France, Ulster Orchestra and the Urals Philharmonic.

In 2020, as the pandemic shut down live music, Oliver collaborated with Apple Music and Platoon to commission and record a new opera-film, Eight Songs from Isolation, with commissions from a number of today’s leading composers, including Thomas Adès, Nico Muhly and Du Yun. The projects was nominated for five Opus Klassik awards. He followed this up with a second collaboration - Live at the V&A, a concert film shot in the museum's Raphael Court - partnering with the V&A Museum in London - and has since signed with Platoon for four future albums.

A firm advocate for contemporary music, Oliver has commissioned and premiered twenty-one new works to date from some of the most exciting composers of today. He has given the Russian premieres of a number of important 20th and 21st century pieces, including George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence, Birtwistle’s The Triumph of Time, Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King, Walton’s Façade and Ligeti’s Aventures and Nouvelles Aventures.

A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, Oliver originally studied History and Russian at Durham University and also spent a year at the St Petersburg State Conservatory.

CONTACT