Classical music

Sign up for updates




Join Us


Latest Blog Posts

The Rest Is Noise

The Rest Is Noise festival is one of Southbank Centre’s most ambitious classical music undertakings to date – a year-long series of concerts and events bringing to life Alex Ross’s widely respected survey of 20th century music, The Rest Is Noise.

If you love classical concerts but feel you need some help with contemporary music, this festival is for you. It’s also a guided way in for those just beginning to discover classical music.

The festival features nearly 100 events, including talks, films, performances, participation events and concerts, all exploring 20th-century classical music in the context of historical, political and cultural upheavals. Our partners on the project include the London Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Four.

Jude Kelly, Southbank Centre’s Artistic Director and curator of The Rest Is Noise festival, explains the inspiration.

‘The background is something I’ve been thinking a lot about: how do you get people to fall in love with classical music, and how do you get people who are in love with classical music to be in love with contemporary classical music,’ she says.

‘In about 2007 I was sent a proof copy of Alex Ross’s book and I read it from cover to cover almost instantly. I knew immediately that this was a translation space for people to find a way of understanding music differently. Because what it does is take the history of the 20th century and reveal how this history – the turbulence, intrigue, revolution and warring political philosophies – deeply affected composition.’

Throughout the year, there is a series of weekends looking at different themes. Historians and playwrights have been commissioned to write about important events and major figures of the century, helping put the music into context.

‘Each of the weekends gives you a world snapshot that makes you realise the world has always been very joined up, artists have always travelled and borrowed,’ says Kelly.

While audiences are asked to challenge themselves with some of the programming, there is also plenty of lyrical and uplifting music to look forward to.

Timothy Walker, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, says: ‘Working on The Rest Is Noise has been a fascinating project because there are all sorts of discussions about what you’re not going to include as much as what you are going to include.

‘From January to May we cover pretty well the first half of the century up to World War I, with Tippett’s A Child Of Our Time, Shostakovich's Symphony No.6, then after the war we start with Benjamin Britten. You might think that the second half of the century is much more challenging but believe me we have come up with a way to make it very appealing.’

WHERE AND WHEN

The Rest Is Noise covers everything from orchestral concerts and opera, to intimate chamber recitals and discussions.

Full listings of events.

KEY MOMENTS IN THE FESTIVAL:


January:
HERE COMES THE 20TH CENTURY
A new century, a new world

February:
THE RISE OF NATIOANLISM
Folk rootes and new nations

PARIS
Shock, glamour and experiments

March:
BERLIN IN THE 20S AND 30S
Cabaret, paranoia and Fascism

AMERICA
A new world discovers
its voice

May:
ART OF FEAR
Music of oppression and war

June:
END OF THE WAR
Elegy and heroism

September
– October:
BRITTEN’S CENTENARY

POST-WAR WORLD
Breaking from the past

1960s
Counterculture and revolution

November:
POLITICS AND SPITIUALITY IN THE LATE 20TH CENTURY
Music behind the iron curtain

SUPERPOWER
Hollywood, Minimalism and musical theatre

December:
NEW WORLD ORDER
No more rules

Major Partner:

  • London Philharmonic Orchestra

Festival partners to include:

  • Philharmonia Orchestra
  • London Sinfonietta
  • Shell Classic International - Shell supports Southbank Centre in bringing the finest international orchestras to London
  • International Chamber Music Season - In partnership with Intermusica
  • International Piano Series - In partnership with HarrisonParrott
  • BBC Concert Orchestra
  • Royal College of Music
  • Barbara Hannigan


A wide range of events and packages will be announced throughout 2012.