The growing crop of London orchestras and artists taking classical music out of its traditional context feature heavily in the Roundhouse’s five-day Reverb 2012 festival (24th to 26th February and 4th and 5th March 2012).
The inaugural Reverb in 2010 was a success, pulling in good numbers and creating a bit of a buzz, some of which was generated by the memory of the Roundhouse as the venue of late night Proms in the 1970s, when classical music rubbed shoulders with contemporary bands and performance art.
The programme for 2012 is significantly smaller than the original – it is perhaps bedding down into a realistic format – but the Aurora Orchestra, OAE Night Shift and London Contemporary Orchestra (LCO) all line up with a range of fresh ideas (although the “shattered boundaries” of the press release is a bit much).
The LCO, a relatively new set-up dedicated to 20th century and new music, offer probably the pick of the shows (3rd March). They team up with Gabriel Prokofiev of Nonclassical fame to perform his new Concerto for Bass Drum and Orchestra alongside music by Xenakis, Stockhausen and Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood. Nonclassical also contributes DJ sets to what should be a pretty fluid evening of music.
Two of the Reverb gigs focus on vocal music. On 26th February Singer-songwriter Imogen Heap collaborates with British choir the Holst Singers to perform her a cappella soundtrack to a 1928 French surrealist film, while the festival closes on 4th March with Voices Now, for which choirs from all over the UK will be involved. The event will culminate in a massed-choir performance of a new work commissioned as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
In other classical music news, the third annual International Wimbledon Music Festival runs from 12th to 27th November. As to be expected for an institution finding its feet, the festival’s programme is mixed, but it presents some decent events, including the Brodsky Quartet playing Beethoven and violinist Rachel Podger with her early music group, Brecon Baroque.
On the more modern side, pianist Joanna MacGregor (who, incidentally, played in the original Reverb in 2010) teams up with percussion group EnsembleBash for an interesting crossover programme. Venues are mostly local churches.
Image of the Roundhouse © Jonathan Birch.