Think Aloud podcast series

Think Aloud is where you will hear some of the biggest and most influential names in modern literature, art, music and performance share their stories, thoughts and ideas. Each month presenter Harriet Fitch Little is joined in conversation by the people shaping arts and culture today.

Southbank Centre's Book Podcast

Presented by Ted Hodgkinson, Southbank Centre’s Book Podcast goes deeper into literature, critically and culturally. With a different theme each month the podcast celebrates new and global voices, explores the motivations and machinations of literary greats, and champions award-winning, contemporary poetry and prose.

SoundState: Oliver Christophe Leith playlist

Taking place later this month, our SoundState festival celebrates exciting new classical music from all over the world – including London-based composer Oliver Christophe Leith.

Leith has been commissioned by the likes of the London Sinfonietta, Festival Aix-en-Provence, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Music Festival, among numerous others. At SoundState he presents a currently untitled new work, played by the London Sinfonietta and conducted by Jonathan Berman. Ahead of that performance, we asked the composer if he could tell us about five pieces of music that he considers influential.

Oliver Christophe Leith at Southbank Centre


 

Prayer o doctor Jesus: Miles Davis - Gil Evans

I was so obsessed with this growing up that I have an edited version of this that loops from 3.11-4.00. I think that 3.25 is the best moment ever in all music.


 

Les Fleurs: Minnie Ripperton

Another great build, the swooping lines and glissando, I could also make a nice loop out of this, also so fantastic that I’ve sung this without knowing a shred of the lyrics for years.


 

Yèkèrmo Sèw: Mulatu Astatke

The whole of this album is great, Ethiopiques vol.4, something about the out of tune horns I’m into. It sounds sunny.


 

Ima read: Zebra Katz

I haven’t listened to it in ages but when I first did it made me think about repetition and minimal lyrics etc, I like it.


 

Fall: Micachu & The Shapes

I accidentally listened to this bringing to life an old computer yesterday and I had forgotten how absolutely loose and beautiful it is.


 

Southbank Centre’s SoundState took place Wednesday 16 – Sunday 20 January, 2019

find out more

Southbank Centre’s 2018/19 series includes 200 incredible classical concerts that look to the future of what music can be and who it is for. Discover some of the most exciting artists, conductors, orchestras and ensembles the world over with us.

upcoming concerts

Five minutes with Roxane Gay

Celebrated cultural critic and novelist Roxane Gay comes to Southbank Centre in December, taking to our Royal Festival Hall stage for her first ever UK in conversation event.

An associate professor of English at Purdue University, and a contributing writer for The New York Times, Gay released Bad Feminist in 2014, a collection of essays which merged pop culture with her own experience to explore the complexities of being a feminist in modern America.

Gay has become renowned for her humour, honesty and sensitivity; all of which are in evidence in her latest book, the New York Times best-seller Hunger (2017).  Drawing on her own experience once again, with startling intimacy, Gay looks at sensitivity about food and bodies to explore our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance and health.

Earlier this year we grabbed five minutes with the best-selling writer and essayist to discuss finding her place in feminism, intersectionality and grappling with pop culture.

One of the things I like about The Bad Feminist, is your acknowledgment of a position on a spectrum of feminism. Is this a position you consciously sought to place yourself, or is it more a case of realising and embracing your place, rather than trying to force yourself to meet an expectation?

It's both, really. We have to make space for ourselves in the movements that matter most to us. But I was able to make space for myself within feminism by recognizing and embracing the ways in which I live my feminist ideals and the ways in which I fall short.

You’ve previously suggested too many women are afraid to be labelled as feminists; do you think this still the case? Or has it perhaps been lessened by prominent social movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp?

This is absolutely still the case. There are so many women who are reluctant or afraid or unwilling to be labeled as feminists, for a range of reasons. But mostly, they shy away from the label because they know there is a social cost, despite the prominence of MeToo or TimesUp.

 

So many women shy away from the label of feminist, because they know there is a social cost, despite the prominence of MeToo or TimesUp
Roxane Gay

Your forthcoming book, Not That Bad looks at rape culture. Do you think it is time that we shifted the language and focus on this, and begin calling it ‘rapist culture’?

‘Rape culture’ is an appropriate name for what rape culture is and it includes looking at rapist culture, but to only call it rapist culture leaves out some critical issues regarding rape culture, how people are conditioned to see sexual violence, how popular culture reinforces certain ideas about sexual violence, etc.

I’ve seen you described as a representative of intersectional feminism - how far do you think we still have to go before intersectionality ceases to be seen as an offshoot of feminism?

We're still defining what intersectional means, which is a pretty damning measure of how far we have to go. I do hope for a day when feminism simply stands for intersectional feminism, as it should, but first people have to understand that women inhabit multiple identities that must be considered when discussing matters of equity and equality.

Lastly, is it still possible for someone to be a feminist, and yet crank up the volume on rap tracks featuring misogynistic and degrading lyrics?

I wrote a whole book about this. Yes, it is possible to be a feminist and listen to misogynistic music. That said, at some point we have to hold ourselves accountable for the pop culture we consume. The more we demand such music, the less incentive musicians have to change what they supply.

 


 

 

The venue for London Literature Festival and Poetry International, Southbank Centre is the home of literature and spoken word events in the UK. Throughout the year we host talks, discussions, readings and more featuring bestselling authors, award-winning poets and inspirational writers.

upcoming literature events

 

SoundState: who are the composers? A second look

SoundState is a new Southbank Centre festival which lets you see live performances of some of best contemporary classical music, including world premieres, intriguing collaborations and incredible musicians.

In the second in a series of two blog posts, we’re giving you a chance to get to know more about some of the composers whose work is featured – read this short series of biographies, which could help you decide which of the SoundState concerts is is most relevant to your interests. The festival takes place in January 2019.

Helen Grime

Colour photo portrait of composer Helen Grime

Helen Grime was born in York in 1981 and studied oboe and composition at the Royal Academy of Music. The list of organisations to have commissioned her is like a who’s who of classical music – the Proms, Tanglewood Music Centre, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Wigmore Hall and countless others.

She also composed a piece to celebrate the 60th birthday of the much-missed conductor and composer Oliver Knussen.

Helen is familiar to Southbank Centre audiences from her involvement in the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Music of Today series and we’re thrilled that she’s giving the world premiere of her percussion orchestra at SoundState – with Colin Currie performing and Marin Alsop conducting.

event details


 



Erkki-Sven Tüür

Colour photo portrait of composer Erkki-Sven Tüür by Ave Maria Mõistlik

Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür has had a long and varied career in music, and is one of the most original contemporary composers. In 1979 he founded the rock group ‘In spe’, functioning as composer, flautist, keyboard player and singer until 1983.

He has studied at the Tallinn Music School and the Estonian Academy of Music and has composed nine symphonies, a number of works for symphony and string orchestra, nine instrumental concertos, a wide variety of chamber music and an opera.

Erkki-Sven says he hopes his music raises existential questions and reaches the creative energy of every listener. At SoundState you can find out if he achieves this with the UK premiere of Erkki-Sven’s Piccolo Concerto (Solastalgia), performed by Stewart McIlwham and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

event details

 


 

Southbank Centre’s SoundState took place Wednesday 16 – Sunday 20 January, 2019.

find out more

Southbank Centre’s 2018/19 series includes 200 incredible classical concerts that look to the future of what music can be and who it is for. Discover some of the most exciting artists, conductors, orchestras and ensembles the world over with us.

upcoming concerts

Podcast: An Evening with Sally Field

An Evening with Sally Field by Southbank Centre's Book Podcast

One of the most highly anticipated events at the 2018 London Literature Festival was an appearance by the beloved actress Sally Field.

In a conversation with Elizabeth Day to mark the release of her memoir In Pieces, Field talked about her life, career and becoming herself. The audience were in awe of her honesty and openness, tweeting about how emotional and inspiring the event was. Now you can hear highlights of the evening in our podcast.


 

Southbank Centre is the home of literature and spoken word events in the UK, and the venue for London Literature Festival and Poetry International. Throughout the year we host talks, discussions, readings and more featuring bestselling authors, award-winning poets and inspirational writers.

discover upcoming events

SoundState: who are the composers?

SoundState is a new Southbank Centre festival which lets you see live performances of some of best contemporary classical music, including world premieres, intriguing collaborations and incredible musicians.

Ahead of the festival in January 2019, we’re giving you a chance to get to know more about some of the composers whose work is featured – read this short series of biographies, which could help you decide which of the SoundState concerts is is most relevant to your interests.

Dai Fujikura

Photo of composer Dai Fujikura

Dai Fujikura was born in 1977 in Osaka, Japan. His work includes operas, orchestral pieces, ensemble works, chamber music, and film scores, but he also also has strong connections to the experimental pop/jazz/improvisation world, collaborating with Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Sylvian and Jan Bang, among others.

He moved to the UK on his own aged just 15, studying at Trinity College of Music, King’s College London and the Royal College of Music, where Dai is now Professor of Composition. At SoundState you can hear the UK premiere of his Dai Fujikura Concerto for flute & ensemble, performed by the incredible Claire Chase and musicians from the Philharmonia Orchestra.

event details

 



Vito Žuraj

Black and white portrait of Vito Žuraj, who appears at Southbank Centre's SoundState festival

Vito Žuraj is a Slovenian composer who was born in 1979. He is classically trained, earning a degree in composition and music theory from the Ljubljana Academy of Music and winning the Claudio Abbado Prize for composition in 2016, but he is also very interested in the technology and aesthetics of electronic sound generation.

The Philharmonia Orchestra, Resident at Southbank Centre, dedicated its April 2018 Music of Today concert entirely to Vito’s work. At SoundState you can hear the UK premiere of his piece Runaround, performed by brass quartet and Vito’s long-term collaborators the International Ensemble Modern Academy – with Zimbabwean-American Vimbayi Kaziboni conducting.

event details

 



Oliver Christophe Leith

 

Black and white photo of composer Oliver Christophe Leith

Oliver was born in 1990 and is a London-based composer who makes acoustic music, electronic music and video. His work focuses on text, image, video, theatre and tangible human themes and he describes himself as a fan of ‘scientific illustrations, gardening, film, tapestry, reality television, wobbly sounds and the visceral’.

He was the recipient of a British Composer Award in 2016 and of the Royal Philharmonic Composition prize in 2014, and has collaborated with an eclectic group of artists including Apartment House, Matthew Herbert, Ives Ensemble, Exaudi, Plus Minus and the London Sinfonietta, who perform a world premiere of Oliver’s at SoundState conducted by Jonathan Berman.

event details

 


 

Southbank Centre’s SoundState took place Wednesday 16 – Sunday 20 January, 2019.

find out more

Southbank Centre’s 2018/19 series includes 200 incredible classical concerts that look to the future of what music can be and who it is for. Discover some of the most exciting artists, conductors, orchestras and ensembles the world over with us.

upcoming concerts

 

SoundState: Helen Grime playlist

Our SoundState festival takes place in January 2019 and celebrates exciting new classical music from all over the world – including Britain’s own Helen Grime, who was born in York in 1981.

Her work has been performed globally, and we’re very proud that SoundState features the world premiere of her Percussion Concerto, perfomed by Colin Currie. We’re also thrilled that when we asked Helen to share five pieces of music that have influenced her life and work she obliged – and now we’re sharing that music with you.

 

Helen Grime © Amy Barton

 

Judith Weir: Natural History

Ailish Tynan – soprano, BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Martyn Brabbins

Judith’s musical language is so clear, direct and intensely personal. This piece is very compelling.


 

Manuel De Fall: Seven Spanish Folk Songs

Victoria de los Ángeles – soprano

I’ve loved this piece from the moment I first heard it. At once exciting and touching, intense miniature worlds with so much character.


 

Elliott Carter: Enchanted Preludes

Robert Aitken – flute, David Hetherington – cello

A mercurial duo for flute and cello, the music is constantly shifting and full of joy. A source of constant inspiration.


 

Oliver Knussen: Ophelia Dances

London Sinfonietta conducted by Oliver Knussen

This was the first piece of Oliver Knussen I ever heard, I instantly fell in love with it. So much clarity and every note feels like the right one. A piece that influenced me a lot.


 

Ravel: Tombeau de Couperin

Martha Argerich – piano, London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado

Hard to choose a single piece and it could be almost anything from his oeuvre.


 

Southbank Centre’s SoundState took place Wednesday 16 – Sunday 20 January, 2019.

find out more

Southbank Centre’s 2018/19 series includes 200 incredible classical concerts that look to the future of what music can be and who it is for. Discover some of the most exciting artists, conductors, orchestras and ensembles the world over with us.

upcoming concerts

 

My Mixtape: Insecure Men

Insecure Men – the pop duo comprising Saul Ademczewski, previously of the Fat White Band, and Ben Romans-Hopcraft of Childhood – are famous for their eclectic influences. So when we asked them for a list of music they are listening to at the moment we were thrilled to discover that it was as unpredictable as you might have predicted.

From the jangliest 60s garage to the most laidback pedal steel guitar via some vintage 1990s Prince, this is a Mixtape that is going to bork your Spotify algorithm. You have been warned!


 

Insecure Men performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall on Tuesday 6 November.

Every year Southbank Centre presents live contemporary music gigs and performances that blur genre boundaries and showcase the best new sounds from across the globe.

upcoming gigs

Who is Inon Barnatan?

Israeli-American pianist Inon Barnatan has seen his career take him all over the world, performing in its most famous concert halls. His repertoire includes everything from Beethoven to contemporary composers like Alan Fletcher, Thomas Adès and Nico Muhly, and he has released six records to date. Having made his BBC Proms debut in 2017, we were thrilled to have him appear at Southbank Centre in 2018 in his very first International Piano Series concert, where he performed music by Ravel and Mussorgsky.

Ahead of his performance, we spoke to Inon to find out more about his life and career (and his dog, Jasper).

He was something of a child prodigy

Born in Tel Aviv in 1979, Inon Barnatan got his start playing piano at a very early age.

‘Neither of my parents are musicians but my mother played piano when she was young and there was an upright piano in the house,’ says Inon.

‘Apparently around the age of three, I started gravitating towards it and correcting my mother from the other room if she played a wrong note, or identifying a note or picking out tunes. They found out that I have perfect pitch because I kept on playing from ear, from what I heard. So, they sent me to my first lesson when I was probably about three-and-a-half.’

 

Inon ended up in London accidentally – but he has no regrets

He first performed with an orchestra at the age of 11 and by 1997 he had moved to London, where he started studying with Maria Curcio at the Royal Academy of Music, along with Christopher Elton, who was head of the keyboard department (and had also been a student of Curcio’s).

‘I was planning to move to the States to study and then I met Maria Curcio,’ says Inon. ‘She was supposed to come to Israel for masterclasses and then she cancelled, but she invited me to come to London for a week and I fell in love with her teaching, with her musicianship. She was a great, great inspiration and I decided to move to London to study with her. So that’s how I ended up there – and I loved it.’

 

During his London years, Inon was a regular in the IPS audience

Although his 31 October concert is Inon’s International Piano Series debut, he is very familiar with the programme. ‘I lived in London for ten years and I was on a steady diet of Southbank Centre and Wigmore Hall, with the occasional Prom,’ he says.

‘It’s really very special for me to come back. I did my second Prom this year and I played Royal Festival Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra recently, and then Wigmore Hall I’ve been to regularly. So for me to also come and do this, to play in the International Piano Series, is very exciting – especially as I haven’t been to the new, improved Queen Elizabeth Hall yet.’

 

Inon has thought a lot about the purpose of live music...

‘For me actually one of the great powers of going to a concert, now especially, is that there are very few occasions in our lives now when we’re only doing one thing, when we’re concentrating on one thing. Even when we listen to music at home it’s very rare that we sit down and listen and just stare at the speaker and listen,’ he says.

‘I find that there’s so much more relevance and importance now to the ritual of sitting together and concentrating on one thing and giving it your attention and being transformed by it, than ever. I feel like more and more I see people of the younger generation rebelling against this distracted culture where you’re never doing something for more than a few seconds at a time. They’re looking for those experiences that allow them to slow down and concentrate and actually be. And I think music is one of those great, great things that we connect to and that if we allow ourselves the time. Then when something significant happens on stage it’s a very powerful feeling.’

 

...and as a performer it’s not just other musicians who can inspire him

‘I think Meryl Streep playing her character in the Devil Wears Prada is very different to Meryl Streep who plays Margaret Thatcher who’s very different from the Meryl Streep that plays another character,’ says Inon. ‘Some musicians are not like that but I feel like I’m a very different pianist when I play Ravel than I am to when I play Beethoven or when I play Shostakovich.’

 

Relatedly, Inon believes curiosity is essential

Inon has talked about how he tries to absorb as much local culture as he can when he’s on the road. But why?

‘Music doesn’t exist in a vacuum. I think if you look at the way that musicians were in the past there was so much cross pollination between music and other artforms and just life in general. And to me to be a musician is to absorb as much of the world around you – whatever informs you as a person informs your music making. I think there's nothing more important for a musician than curiosity,’ he says.

 

His acclaimed album Darknesse Visible is accompanied by a series of stunning visuals

Inon Barnatan - DARKNESSE VISIBLE: La Valse

Inon recorded Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit and La valse on his 2012 record Darknesse Visible and then worked with videographer Tristan Cook to create incredible video art to go with the music.

‘I asked a friend of mine, Tristan Cook, who is a wonderful videographer, if we could create some little teasers, vignettes for these so that you get a sense, even if it’s not a literal sense, of the story behind the piece,’ Inon says.

‘In the case of La valse there’s a suspicion that Ravel was inspired Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, which is the story of guests who come to these lavish parties thrown by a prince while the people are dying from the red plague outside the walls of the castle. They’re dancing until they realise that one of the guests at the ball is death itself and they dance themselves into doom, which is basically the sonic story of La Valse and its dancing-at-the-edge-of-a-volcano feeling.

‘Tristan found this incredible material that gets agitated by sound and starts dancing, basically. With this, he recreated exactly the feeling that I was imagining, this kind of strange, macabre dance. It was just a perfect, in some ways unconventional, visualisation of a feeling of a piece, rather than a literal translation of it, which I think is what Ravel achieved in the music.’

Darknesse Visible garnered rave reviews, with Gramophone magazine lavishing praise on Inon’s playing, saying it was ‘beautifully voiced piano, very well recorded’ and the New York Times awarding it a place on its coveted Best of 2012 list.

 

His dog Jasper’s indifference to music is a blessing

Inon’s dog is a seven-year-old whippet called Jasper.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“So? How was your trip? Tell me EVERYTHING”

A post shared by Inon Barnatan (@inonbarnatan) on

‘When we got him I was slightly concerned about his reaction to music and then I was slightly offended that he had absolutely no reaction to music. But then I grew to really, really appreciate the fact that I don’t have another critic in the house. He can sleep very soundly right under the piano even if I’m practising a great, modern loud piece,’ says Inon.

In fact, Inon says the only person Jasper ever reacted to was the soprano Renée Fleming, when she came over to rehearse. ‘I think it was because he hadn’t heard that sound before, that incredible voice – and then somehow he suddenly woke from his apathy.’



Inon Barnatan appears at Queen Elizabeth Hall on Wednesday 31 October.

book now find out more

Southbank Centre’s 2018/19 series includes 200 incredible classical concerts that look to the future of what music can be and who it is for. Discover some of the most exciting artists, conductors, orchestras and ensembles the world over with us.

upcoming concerts

Interview by Mark Parker

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