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Debussy and John Adams: Symphonic Reimaginings

PAST EVENT
Fri 23 Jun 2023, 7.30pm
Queen Elizabeth Hall
Classical music
£5 ⁠–⁠ £20
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past event
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The Great Wave off Kanagawa wood print with text in Japanese in the top left corner
Hokusai

Conductor Ryan Bancroft leads the Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra through enchanting works from Debussy, John Adams and Hannah Kendall.

The night features two works that follow symphonic tradition whilst at the same time, reimagine it. Written towards the beginning and end of the 20th century respectively, Debussy’s La mer and John Adams’ Harmonielehre are three-movement works: traditional in some sense, yet startlingly new in their musical language.

La mer, arguably Debussy’s most admired masterpiece, is an evocation of the power of the ocean. Consisting of two powerful outer movements that frame a lighter scherzo-style composition, musical onomatopoeia abounds in this stirring work: hear the pitter-patter of falling droplets of spray, and dynamic swells that portray both the turbulent and peaceful nature of the sea.

In Harmonielehre, roughly translated as ‘the book of harmony’, listen for references of Mahler, Sibelius and Wagner, and enjoy moments of serenity amongst more earthbound post-minimalist rhythms and energy.

Adams took inspiration for this piece by a dream he experienced of a sailing oil tanker that turned into a rocket – a cathartic release both for the piece itself and his own compositional life.

Finally, hear The Spark Catchers by contemporary composer and Royal College of Music alumnus Hannah Kendall.

Commissioned and premiered at the BBC Proms in 2017 and inspired by a poem written by Lemn Sissay for the 2012 London Olympics, this striking piece depicts the working lives of women who worked in a match factory, keeping a watchful eye for stray sparks at risk of starting a fire.

Performers
  • Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra
  • Ryan Bancroft conductor
Repertoire
  • Hannah Kendall: The Spark Catchers
  • Debussy: La mer
  • Interval
  • John Adams: Harmonielehre

Dates & times

Fri 23 Jun 2023, 7.30pm
Approximate run time: 1 hour 50 mins.
Run times may vary by up to 20 minutes as they can be affected by last-minute programme changes, intervals and encores.

Price

  • Standard entry£5 ⁠–⁠ £20*
  • Concessions25%**


* Excludes £3.50 booking fee.

** Limited availability. Read about concessions.

Tickets can only be sold through the Southbank Centre and our authorised agents, and can't be resold. You can return your tickets to the Southbank Centre for a credit voucher up to 48 hours before the event. Tickets resold on any third-party platforms will become invalid.

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Venue

Queen Elizabeth Hall

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Toilets

An accessible toilet is located in the foyer.

A Changing Places toilet is located on Level 1 Royal Festival Hall next to the JCB Glass Lift, for the exclusive use of disabled people who need personal assistance to use the toilet.

The facility includes a height-adjustable bench, tracking hoist system, a centrally-placed toilet, a height-adjustable basin and a shower. The phone outside the Changing Places toilet will connect you with a member of staff, who can provide you with the key. The facility is open daily 10am – 11pm.

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The Queen Elizabeth Hall cloakroom is closed. You won’t be able to bring any bags over 40 x 25 x 25cm into the Queen Elizabeth Hall, so please leave large bags at home.

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For step-free access from the Queen Elizabeth Hall Slip Road off Belvedere Road to the Queen Elizabeth Hall auditorium seating (excluding rows A to C) and wheelchair spaces in the Rear Stalls, plus Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer and the Purcell Room, please use the Queen Elizabeth Hall main entrance.

To reach this entrance, enter the Royal Festival Hall via the Southbank Centre Square Doors. Take the JCB Glass Lift to Level 2 and exit to the Riverside Terrace. Turn right to find the Queen Elizabeth Hall main entrance.

You can also use the external lift near the Artists' Entrance on Southbank Centre Square to reach Mandela Walk, Level 2. 

For access to the Queen Elizabeth Hall auditorium seating rows A to C and wheelchair spaces in the Front Stalls, please enter via the Artists' Entrance in the Queen Elizabeth Hall Slip Road (Level 1).

Talk to a member of staff at the auditorium entrance if you have a disability that means you can’t queue, or you need extra time to take your seat. They can arrange priority entry for you as soon as the doors open.

Please bear with us while we update our access map to reflect the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall’s Level 2 foyer spaces. The step-free routes remain the same.

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