Enjoy the music of film composer Brian Tyler live

Brian Tyler Returns - Live at Southbank Centre

Hollywood glamour comes to our Royal Festival Hall, as celebrated film composer, arranger and conductor Brian Tyler conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra in an evening of his own music.

Ever since its foundation in 1945 the Philharmonia Orchestra has been recording film soundtracks, so even if you’ve never heard the orchestra perform here at Southbank Centre the chances are you’ll have heard their work in the cinema. In the last decade many of the scores performed by the orchestra have been composed by the hand of Brian Tyler including, most recently the music from Crazy Rich Asians, The Mummy, and the new theme tune for Formula One racing.


This high-octane concert performance features excerpts from the three aforementioned works as well as number of other films, including Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: The Dark World, The Fast and the Furious and Yellowstone.


Brian Tyler Returns - Live in Concert takes place in Royal Festival Hall on Thursday 25 October

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Southbank Centre's Winter returns for 2018

Winter at Southbank Centre returns this year with an abundance of festive fun and entertainment for the whole family, spanning the joyful winter weeks from 9 November 2018 to 6 January 2019.

Two brand new family shows are at the heart of this year’s Winter programme. The award-winning puppeteers from War Horse will present the European premiere of the spectacular, heart-stopping Circus 1903, fresh from the Paris Theatre in Las Vegas to the Royal Festival Hall stage at Southbank Centre (19 Dec-5 Jan, RFH) and award-winning Australian theatre companies Windmill Theatre Co and State Theatre Company South Australia will perform the UK premiere of their unique spin on the fantastic fairytale Rumpelstiltskin with their brand of theatrical spectacle, rocking music and supreme silliness, starring cabaret legend Paul Capsis (13 Dec-6 Jan, QEH). Other shows this winter include a festive family sing-along with Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler's Zog & Friends Show (2 Dec, QEH), That Night Follows Day by Forced Entertainment (11-15 Dec, PUR) and Maureen Lipman’s Up for It (17 Dec-6 Jan, PUR).

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Southbank Centre announces Spring 2019 Literature Season

Ten days ahead of its twelfth London Literature Festival (18-28 October 2018), Southbank Centre today announces its Spring 2019 literature season featuring a packed programme of events taking place during January – March 2019 across its 17-acre site.

The spring season marks the start of Southbank Centre’s 2019 literature programme and encompasses exclusive in-conversation discussions with award-winning authors, specially-commissioned live readings and performance, an expanded series of new writing courses, exhibitions, prizes, and the launch of a new poetry initiative, National Poetry Library Lates.

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The Inspirational Trevor Horn

If the sound of the 1980s could be summed up in two words, they would be ‘Trevor Horn’. After first coming to prominence with The Buggles, Horn performed with the progressive rock band Yes for a year, before moving into producing. It was his work in this field, where he honed a distinctive synth and drum machine sound, that would lead to him later being dubbed ‘The man who invented the Eighties,’ by the music journalist Simon Price.

To celebrate Horn’s incredible influence we’ve put together this Spotify playlist of some the most celebrated and iconic tracks on which he worked.


Horn produced some of the decade’s biggest acts including Dollar, Malcolm McLaren, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Pet Shop Boys as well as forming his own synth-pop group, Art of Noise. His success would continue well beyond the decade, including a Grammy award for his production of Seal’s hit Kiss from a Rose.


On 2 November we’ll be further revelling in the work of Trevor Horn with a special live show designed by the man himself, in which you can enjoy the musical glories of the greatest decade of them all.

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Melissa Harrison on All Among The Barley and Visions of England

Melissa Harrison is the author and nature writer behind the acclaimed novels Clay and the Costa-shortlisted At Hawthorn Time. Her latest book All Among The Barley is set in 1930s Suffolk and tells the story of Edie, a farm girl on the cusp of adulthood, and a way of life caught between tradition and modernity.

Ahead of her appearance at London Literature Festival later this month we caught up with the novelist to discuss the origins of All Among The Barley, the similarities between its 1930s setting and the present, and how she sees England in 2018.

All of your novels have given great prominence to the nature and landscape in which they are set. What comes first for you, a desire to write about a particular environment, or the premise of the novel?

A particular environment can be the premise of a novel – the two aren’t necessarily separate at all. All my writing is concerned with nature, landscape and place; the natural world is the beating heart of everything I do. I tend to assemble novels by exploring a set of ideas that interest me, rather than sitting down to write a story, and one of the first elements that comes to me is setting: where am I, what time of year is it, what plants and trees grow here, what crops or livestock are in the fields, what’s the human history of the place, and so on. From setting comes theme, character and finally plot, for me.


Was there something in particular that drew you to the mid-1930s time period in which All Among The Barley is set?

The inter-war years were a period of great uncertainty and change in this country, especially on farms. Horsepower was giving way to tractors, which was nothing less than one entire belief system, and social order, giving way to another. The working of horses involved a great deal of superstition, traditional beliefs and folklore, whereas mechanisation was all about science, efficiency and democratisation.

That change occurred very fast – in a single generation, in some areas – and it marked the beginning of the end of a longstanding traditional system of farming, and the start of the highly efficient agribusiness that dominates the countryside today: a system which has increased production and given us cheap food, but has also resulted in the loss of a great many of our birds, insects and wildflowers.


All my writing is concerned with nature, landscape and place; the natural world is the beating heart of everything I do.

Edie is just 14 years old. Does that allow you to tell the story from a more neutral point of view, in that she is not weighed down by lived experience, and more open to the world around her?

Edie’s point of view is anything but neutral: she lives inside her own subjectivity as we all do, weighed down by fears, beliefs and biases and prey to her own particular insecurities and confusions. More than that, puberty is, I think, a particularly vulnerable time, when we are being forced to leave behind the safety and certainty of childhood with its clear moral distinctions and move into the more complex world of adulthood, without yet having accrued the experience to help us navigate it safely.

My aim, in writing the book in the first person, was to open up a gap between what Edie reports as her experience, as what we, as adults, can see is really happening. That requires readers, I hope, to see past comfortable moral judgements and exist in a state of complexity and doubt – something I think is essential, particularly at the moment.


An older woman called Constance FitzAllen arrives in Edie’s home village of Elmbourne with a very romanticised, nostalgic view of country life. Do you see a danger in such nostalgia?

It seems to me that our English identity is bound up with a sense of nostalgia for an imagined rural past. Think of ‘England’ and you’re likely to picture a village with a little church and a half-timbered inn surrounded by green fields, a powerful but worryingly incomplete idyll that countless writers and politicians have drawn on over the years, and one that I absorbed as a child, too: my mother, who was born and brought up in what’s now Pakistan and grew up with a very particular vision of ‘home’, read us books like Lark Rise to Candleford, Cider With Rosie, A Country Child and the Miss Read books when we were growing up.

With this book, I wanted to conjure up and then disrupt that cosy, nostalgic vision of England; not least because at this moment in time, to rest a sense of national identity on a highly exclusive, Anglican, wealthy, south-eastern and white rural idyll that never really existed seems extremely troubling to me.


With this book, I wanted to conjure up and then disrupt that cosy, nostalgic vision of England

A sense of impending change runs through the book, meaning that parallels between the between the 1930s England you’ve so vividly depicted, and the England of today are perhaps inevitable. Was this by design… or has life followed art since you first began the novel?

When I began work on All Among The Barley, in 2015, the EU referendum was still some way off on the horizon, and I couldn’t have imagined that Trump would really become president of the US. The world changed around me as I was writing it, the 1930s becoming more and more resonant as a period of economic depression and political instability during which far right beliefs gained ground. It became clear to me that I had a responsibility, in setting a book in that period, to address the similarities with the present day; the challenge for me was to not let that aspect of the book overbalance the story of Edie, and of Wych Farm.


You’re joining us at London Literature Festival for a discussion with Sam Byers on ‘Visions of England’, so how do you see England in 2018? 

Right now, our vision of ‘England’ is contested and vulnerable. To move forward as a nation, rather than fracture painfully into schisms or atomise altogether, we need to find a way of reimagining ourselves that avoids jingoism and nativism; that’s inclusive, forward-looking, and finds aspects of our shared landscape and shared experience to be proud of and patriotic about.

“The past is gone, and that’s just the way of it,” says one of the characters in All Among the Barley. “Change allus comes, and all that falls to a man to decide is whether he’ll be part of it or not”.


Melissa Harrison joins fellow author Sam Byers at Southbank Centre for Visions of England, a discussion about their respective latest novels and a look beneath the country’s surface, as part of London Literature Festival on Saturday 27 October

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Released in August this year, All Among The Barley has been described as ‘a masterpiece’ by author Jon McGregor. It is published by Bloomsbury and available to order direct, or via your local bookshop, from Hive.

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Photograph of the author, produced by Rebecca Morris Knight

New Forms - Contemporary Classics

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7 NOV 2018 - 16 JAN 2019
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Introducing Isabella Rossellini's Link Link

Link Link Circus Sizzle

‘Everything I studied at school which was very serious, I try to visualise it and make it fun’ is how the Golden Globe-nominated actress Isabella Rossellini begins to describe her remarkable one woman (and one dog) show, which comes to Southbank Centre in October.

Sitting somewhere along a spectrum between circus and lecture, Link Link is a theatrical show, in which Rossellini explores, in her own unique way, what distinguishes animals from humans. Aided by her dog, Pan, Rossellini examines the theories of Aristotle, Descartes, and the research of Charles Darwin to help gain an insight into the intelligence and emotions of the animal world.

Here, in this specially produced video trailer, Rossellini explains what led her to create Link Link, and how the show comes together.


I want it to be like a circus, just like when I was a little girl playing, only with the added knowledge now of my Masters degree on animal behaviour.
Isabella Rossellini

Isabella Rossellini’s Link Link runs for two nights at our Queen Elizabeth Hall on 23 & 24 October.

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Celebrate National Poetry Day with John Ashbery’s O Fortuna

Today, Thursday 4 October, is National Poetry Day – a day set aside to read, share and enjoy poetry, this year with the theme of ‘change’.

As we are the home of the National Poetry Library, we asked our librarian colleagues to choose a poem to feature on our blog, and they did not disappoint, responding with this intriguing work by the late John Ashbery (1927 – 2017).

“John Ashbery is often hailed as the greatest American poet of the second half of the 20th century,” writes National Poetry Library Librarian Chris McCabe.

At turns lyricist, trickster, cartoonist and art critic, his work surprises for its risk-taking and sheer strangeness.
Chris McCabe on the poetry of John Ashbery

“Given this year’s National Poetry Day theme of ‘change’, we’ve chosen to highlight this poem from our magazine archive. It plays around with the language of farewells – or is it the language of arrival? As with all of Ashbery’s work, only you, the reader, can decide.”

Please do read the poem and share it if it inspires you. Also find out more about our National Poetry Day activities and the National Poetry Library below.

O Fortuna

By John Ashbery

Good luck! Best wishes! The best of luck!
The very best! Godspeed! God bless you!
Peace be with you!
May your shadow never be less!
We can see through to the other side,
you see. It’s your problem, we know,
but I can’t help feeling a little envious.
What if darkness became unhinged right now?
Boomingly, swimmingly one remounts the current.
Here is where the shade was, the suggestion of flowers,
and peace, in another place.

Our competition is like tools of a certain order.
No one would have found them useful at first.
It wasn’t until a real emergency arose, that someone
had the sense to recognize for what it was.
All hell didn’t break loose, it was like a rising psalm
materializing like snow on an unseen mountain.
All that was underfoot was good, but lost.

From The Poetry Review Vol 94 No 1 (Spring 2004).
“O Fortuna” from Where I Shall Wander by John Ashbery © 2005. Reprinted by permission of George Borchardt, Inc., on behalf of the author.

Visit the National Poetry Library

The National Poetry Library is based on Level 5 of Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre and is open Tuesday – Sunday from 11am – 8pm. It also has extensive digital resources available via its website.

Join us for National Poetry Day Live

Poets including Anthony Anaxagorou, Hannah Lowe, Caroline Bird and Zaffar Kunial join us for an exciting evening of readings and more, starting from 5pm on Thursday 4 October. It is free to attend.

Six reasons Salman Rushdie is one of the most interesting novelists alive

Salman Rushdie is one of the literary world’s most recognisable figures and one of its most entertaining characters. So we’re thrilled he is joining us at this year’s London Literature Festival in Royal Festival Hall. Appearing in conversation with author and critic Erica Wagner, he promises to talk about everything from his writing life and his most recent book, to Trump-era America.

Ahead of his appearance we’ve taken a look back over the Booker Prize-winning author’s career, from advertising copywriter to Netflix content producer, via some exquisite writing, violence and censorship – and a few cameo appearances on film and television.

He is the author of 13 novels

The first, a sci-fi/fantasy story called Grimus, was published in 1975, the most recent is The Golden House. This book takes a look at contemporary American society and what Rushdie perceives as the country’s inability to learn from its own history.

In between, his books have covered modern Pakistan (Shame), Muslim Spain (The Moor’s Last Sigh), Lorenzo de’ Medici-era Tuscany (The Enchantress of Florence), global terrorism (Shalimar the Clown), and romance and violence in New York City (Fury) to name just a few of his many concerns.

...there is a glowing energy to the prose that makes this Rushdie’s most enjoyable, mischievous and American of novels.
The Financial Times on The Golden House

Before finding fame as a novelist he wrote advertising copy

Rushdie is one of the rare writers to have escaped a life of writing slogans for confectionery and credit cards, for a more literary milieu. But before he made his getaway, Rushdie reportedly coined classic lines like ‘Irresistibubble’ for Aero chocolate, ‘That’ll do nicely’ for American Express, and ‘Naughty but nice’ for a fresh cream cake brand called, well, Fresh Cream Cakes. Brace yourself for a decidedly 1980s clip.

Fresh Cream Cakes Naughty But Nice advert from the eighties


His novel Midnight’s Children has more Booker Prizes than any other book

Rushdie wrote Midnight’s Children while he still worked in advertising and it was published in 1981, winning that year’s Booker Prize. The book tells the life of a boy who was born at the exact moment that India gained its independence from Britain and the way his life mirrors the history of his country. It was later named the Booker of Bookers in 1993, an accolade it retained in 2008, when there was another competition between the only three authors to have won two Bookers each, at that time (Peter Carey and J.M Coetzee were also in contention).

Midnight’s Children was adapted into a feature film in 2013, with Rushdie providing the voiceover. Now Netflix has optioned the book for a series, as the streaming entertainment service sets its sights on expanding its Indian subscriber base – Rushdie has said he is ‘absolutely delighted’ with the news.


Starring Salman Rushdie… as himself

As one of the most famous novelists in the world, Rushdie has found himself in demand as, of all things, an actor – cast in the role of one Salman Rushdie. You may have seen him pop up in The Larry David Show and W1A, as well as in this unforgettable moment from the 2001 film Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Bridget Jones's Diary - Renée Zellweger hilarious speech OFFICIAL HD VIDEO

And if you’re something of a superfan, do seek out Helen Hunt’s 2007 film Then She Found Me – Rushdie plays Hunt’s gynaecologist. You’re welcome.


And yes, he IS alive

For reasons only fully known by Google, one of the top results when you search for the author is ‘When did Salman Rushdie die?’ The confusion most likely stems from the furore around his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses, which was deemed blasphemous by some. In 1989 Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini called on ‘valiant Muslims’ all over the world to kill Rushdie and anyone involved with the book’s publication – as a result, Rushdie was put under police protection and the Iranian government broke diplomatic relations with the UK. In spite of Rushdie’s statement saying he “profoundly regretted the distress the publication has occasioned to the sincere followers of Islam”, the Ayatollah rejected the apology and insisted his fatwa remains in place – in fact he put a bounty on Rushdie’s head.


...though he did spend nine years in hiding

In view of the threats from Iran, Rushdie duly went into hiding living under the name Joseph Anton, chosen as a nod to his favourite writers Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov, for almost a decade. Rushdie wrote about the experience of living in hiding in his 2012 memoir of the same name as his alias, Joseph Anton, where he revealed he went from hoping that people would come to accept that his book was not evil to seeing the negative response as an act of terrorism, which must be resisted.

Literature’s view of human nature encouraged understanding, sympathy, and identification with people not like oneself, but the world was pushing everyone in the opposite direction, toward narrowness, bigotry, tribalism, cultism and war
Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie: From Midnight’s Children to Trump’s America takes place on Tuesday 23 October as part of the London Literature Festival. The event is BSL interpreted and speech-to-text translated.

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Dance through the decades with our New Year’s Eve Spectacular playlist

On New Year’s Eve our Royal Festival Hall will be transformed, as we offer you the chance to dance through the decades across five fabulous club nights. From the 1920s to the present day, we’ll have music to suit all tastes, and to get you in the mood we’ve put together this toe-tapping playlist featuring some dance favourites from across the decades.


On the night itself there’ll sassy swing and old school rhythm and blues from the 1920s to the 1940s in the Torch Club. In Let It Rock, the Jive Romeros will have you bopping along to 1950s and early 1960s swing and rock ‘n’ roll. If the 1970s is more your scene then there are disco hits galore with a side helping of funk to be found in Disco Royale. Bar Bonkers brings the 1980s and 1990s party staples, and if all that gets too much you can drift away with the sounds of Hawaii in our Tiki Bar.

Throw in an incredible view of the River Thames midnight firework display from our terraces, and this is one New Year’s Eve Spectacular that’s sure to live up to the name.


Tickets for our New Year’s Eve Spectacular are now on sale through the Southbank Centre website.

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