When you think of Switzerland you think of cheese and clocks and the like, which is a little harsh on a country that’s also home to chocolate and the odd mountain. Next month the whole catalogue of Swiss stereotypes will be on parade in London alongside some of the nation’s finest musical exports, as Swiss Summer Nights in London brings us some unique performances with an Alpine flavour, by which we definitely don’t mean the flavour your dad used to hang in a little tree from the rear-view mirror to make everyone car sick.
It’ll be interesting to see how the organisers capture a beautiful Swiss sunset over the Alps in music, but we’re sure they’ll give it a go. Given the title of the event it’s rather confusingly taking place over just a single evening, 14 August, but there’s no mistaking the Swissiness of the thing.
The show will open with Fantaisie sur des airs Suisses, a performance of the work of Charles Samuel Bovy-Lysberg by the superb Swiss pianist Olivia Geiser. Next on the bill will be a Swiss take on Vaughan-Williams’s classic The Lark Ascending, and then a selection of ‘poems for piano’ will explore the themes of solitude, ecstasy and sunset.
The second part of the evening will include the work of Benjamin Britten, not previously known to be Swiss but imagining him dressed up like a milk maid is quite a thought. The evening ends with a selection of piano pieces from the returning Olivia Geiser, who has appeared on grand stages at the Chopin Festival in Basel and Zürich, the Styriarte Festival in Graz and the International Keyboard Festival in New York. You can hear some of her fine piano work below, in a performance of Frank Bridge’s Phantasm.
The event has been conceived by Royal Academy of Music graduate Belle Chen, with the aim to explore the role of classical music in the 21st century through thought-provoking listening experiences. It will take place in the Swiss Church in Covent Garden and will be accompanied by the beautiful imagery you would expect to emerge from such a picturesque part of the world, mainly put together by animator Betsy Dadd. The performance begins at 7.30pm but is preceded by a pre-concert talk from those involved.
Swiss Summer Nights in London takes place at the Swiss Church in Covent Garden on 14 August, and you can find full details at the Visualise website. Tickets are prices £12.95 and are available from the Eventbrite website.
Image courtesy of event organisers.