Seen and Heard International hopes for the happiest of outcomes for all those who are ill due to the current coronavirus pandemic. We share the optimism of those experts who hope that all those in otherwise good health will be able to resist its worst effects.
With the worldwide restrictions on travel and gatherings of significant numbers the world of classical music and many other entertainment events are currently subjected to a wave of changes, postponements, or cancellations, and it is unlikely normal recreational life will be resumed in the foreseeable future.
Seen and Heard International will continue to post reviews of concerts, operas, dance, theatre, and broadcasts for a long as we can, but bear with us if our content is not refreshed as often as readers have become used to over recent years.
We are not a listings site so if you are checking for news of whether performances have been postponed, cancelled, or might be restarting, please go direct to the websites of the venues concerned.
Attempts are being made to provide online live music and other performances – live or recorded – during this ongoing situation. Below are a few of the announcements and please also look elsewhere on Seen and Heard for more news. None of this is intended to be comprehensive or regularly updated but might be added to in coming days:
The Arts Institute’s Musica Viva series – We are excited to announce a new addition to the series (click here) – namely a series of Music Forums: live-streaming musical evenings featuring live performances and informal conversations with Robert Taub and guest artists about composers, musical interpretations, and related topics. Please join us for these exciting evenings so we can continue to enjoy great music together safely, through live streaming, during these unprecedented times.
9th October 2020, 7:30pm: The Arts Institute Director of Music Robert Taub will speak with Hannah Harris, CEO of Plymouth Culture about the profile of the current music season, and preview the Musica Viva Beethoven250 Festival that will be celebrated by The Arts Institute 4-6 March 2021 with performance excerpts and examination of musical scores.
6th November 2020, 7:30pm: British cellist Lionel Hardy will join us to discuss how Covid-19 has affected his normally busy touring and concert schedule. For example, he had been scheduled to perform a cello concerto by the Plymothian composer Stanley Bate in Hong Kong, but of course that event has been cancelled owing to Covid-19. Instead, Lionel will play excerpts from that work for us, and also perform a heroic solo cello work, the transcendent Suite for Solo Cello in C major by JS Bach.
4th December 2020, 7:30pm: London harpist Elizabeth Bass, a young artist presented in this Music Forum in cooperation with the Countess of Munster Trust, will demonstrate how the harp works, and discuss challenges and logistics of traveling with such a large instrument. She will also perform several works from her wide-ranging repertoire that includes transcriptions for harp of Scarlatti Piano Sonatas to 20th century works for solo harp by Benjamin Britten and others.
15th January 2021, 7:30pm: The first Music Forum in 2021 will feature a behind-the-scenes conversation with Mark Forkgen, conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Kokoro ensemble who will be performing in the re-scheduled performances of Some Call It Home at TRP in May 2021. Mark will discuss ways in which he prepares for a world premiere performance – how he learns a new score, how he organises rehearsals, how he deals with the different personalities of demanding musicians. As part of the discussion, we will play musical excerpts of the new score and highlight ways in which it is central to the overall drama.
19th February 2021, 7:30pm: London oboist Katherine Bryer – a young artist presented in cooperation with the Countess of Munster Trust – will show us how her oboe works, how she makes reeds, and perform solo oboe works from her repertoire that spans several centuries: from Bach to contemporary works by Elliot Carter and Giles Silvestrini.
South East London song series welcomes socially-distanced audience – Following months of concert halls lying quiet, Blackheath Halls will open their doors on 19th September to a socially-distanced audience, for the first time since the pandemic struck in March. One of the first indoor concerts to be held in the UK under new government guidelines, it marks the first of three performances programming Schubert’s complete cycles here by SongEasel as part of The Wanderlust Series, featuring emerging star baritone, Julien Van Mellaerts alongside pianist and founder-curator of SongEasel, Jocelyn Freeman.
Complete with temperature checks and staggered arrival slots, the performance of Die schöne Müllerin will run for just over an hour with no interval. To compliment this, SongEasel – whose vision is to fill South East London with song – was founded with a passion for audience cultivation and development, and will also host a pre-concert talk with renowned experts Dr Natasha Loges and Natasha Riordan. The evening will be recorded as live and available to watch On Demand during the month of October (via songeasel.eventbrite.com), for those unable to attend in person. This online viewing method was piloted in July for the latest recital in The Wanderlust Series featuring Mark Padmore and Julius Drake, and offers viewing packages for a range of budgets including spoken content, subtitles providing translations of the song texts, and a PDF concert programme.
For socially-distanced tickets, please CLICK HERE, where you can chose your seat.
Bard Music Festival – Joining forces with The Orchestra Now (TŌN) and the Bard College Conservatory the Bard Music Festival will present ‘Out of the Silence: A Celebration of Music’, a series of four free live-streamed concerts for string orchestra, piano and percussion (Sep 5–26), coming to UPSTREAMING, the Fisher Center’s virtual stage. All programs are free, reservations requested. Pairing works by Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Dvořák and Bartók – all past subjects of the Bard Music Festival – with music by ten prominent Black composers – ranging from Classical pioneer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges to contemporary Americans Alvin Singleton, Adolphus Hailstork and Jessie Montgomery, the series celebrates Bard’s commitment to neglected rarities and the unquenchable joy of music-making. All four programs will be performed without an audience and with appropriate safety measures on Bard College’s idyllic Hudson Valley campus by its unique graduate training orchestra, TŌN, under the leadership of Music Director Leon Botstein and other members of the TŌN artistic team. Hailed as ‘a highlight of the musical year’ (Wall Street Journal), the Bard Music Festival is the inspiration for Bard’s annual seven-week SummerScape festival, whose devoted fans will no doubt enjoy the chance to experience virtually some of the adventurous Bard music-making they have been missing. Since its founding in 1990, the Bard Music Festival has succeeded in enriching the standard concert repertory with a wealth of important rediscoveries; as the New York Times points out, ‘wherever there is an overlooked potential masterpiece, Leon Botstein is not too far behind.’ True to this mission, ‘Out of the Silence’ shines a light on some of the important Black composers so rarely admitted to the canon. Examples of their work will be heard in September alongside music by four composers featured in early seasons of the festival. By celebrating more than three decades of musical exploration at Bard while amplifying some of society’s most unjustly neglected artistic voices, the series looks ahead to a more equitable future.
English National Opera – On 17 July tickets for the English National Opera’s Drive and Live – the world’s first live drive-in opera – will go on sale. This new, modern 90 minute version of the much-loved La bohème is performed live at London’s Alexandra Palace with members of the award-winning ENO Orchestra and Chorus. For casting and other details and about how to book tickets CLICK HERE.
Nevill Holt Opera – have announced six outdoor concerts are taking place in the beautiful gardens of the Nevill Holt estate this summer. Two concerts will take place on each of 29 August, 5 and 12 September. Nurturing up-and-coming talent is an essential part of NHO’s mission, and each concert will feature at least five NHO Young Artists. An English Country Garden will feature English Folksongs by Elgar and others, Summer Shakespeare will feature John Rutter’s Birthday Madrigals and Choral Music from the Renaissance will round out the concert series with Monteverdi, Gabrielli and Palestrina. During each visit, which will last for 2.5 hours, audiences can enjoy the outdoor performance and local food and explore the gardens. Each event will be held with strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place. Tickets are £35, with some held for each concert for those who may not be able to afford it. NHO’s 2020 festival with La traviata and Don Giovanni was cancelled in March due to Covid-19 and postponed to 2021. For more information CLICK HERE.
Opera Leipzig – The Oper Leipzig schedule of events for the 2020/21 season will once again allow for performances on the main stage, as part of an ambitious hygiene plan. The Oper Leipzig’s Oper Leipzig’s modified program for the months of September and October 2020 begins with a season-opening concert is entitled ‘Vorhang auf!’ and will take place on September 12, 2020. Intendant and general music director Ulf Schirmer will musically direct the program, which will include works by Mozart, Rossini, Carl Maria von Weber, Bizet, and Humperdinck. The very next day on September 13, soprano Gabriele Scherer will take the stage with her husband, superstar baritone Michael Volle, as together they perform selections from the works of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss an 60 Musicians of the Gewandhaus orchestra on stage. In line with health regulations, the Oper Leipzig’s theater will offer 238 seats, and the Musikalische Komödie’s current venue allows 48 seats. Both venues will offer one-hour performances without an intermission and will observe distancing regulations in the front and back of the house, and on stage. Ulf Schirmer thanks all involved in this complex process of coordination: ‘I am very grateful to the artists, and to our planning and technical teams, both on stage and behind the scenes, for their engagement, their patience, and their creativity. Thanks to them, we are able to make resolute and imaginative decisions regarding this autumn’s new schedule of events.’ Audiences can look forward to one premiere by each of the Oper Leipzig’s three divisions: the Oper Leipzig, the Leipzig Ballet, and the Musikalische Komödie. For more information CLICK HERE.
The Maltings Theatre – Hot on the heels of the re-ignition of outdoor performances, The Maltings Theatre will present a two-week open air festival of Shakespeare (and more) at the atmospheric Roman Theatre of St Albans during August. The Maltings Theatre’s own productions of Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor will feature throughout the two week run and performances of both plays will bookend the programme opening on Friday August 14th and closing on Monday August 31st. ‘It’s a really exciting time!’ asserts Maltings Artistic Director Adam Nichols. ‘Having led the successful campaign to persuade the government to allow live open air performance to restart, we’re delighted to be one of the first venues in the country to bring back live theatre to audiences in the historical and beautiful surrounds of the Roman Theatre of St Albans. It is said that Shakespeare himself completed many of his finest works during lockdown, so it seems appropriate for us to be presenting a range of the great man’s plays this summer.’ The Festival will also host the work of three other critically acclaimed touring theatre companies: The HandleBards will present ‘Romeo & Juliet’ and ‘Gnora the Gnome’s Daytime Disco’ (children welcome!); Folksy Theatre will present ‘The Taming of the Shrew’; Pantaloons Theatre Company’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ completes the programme. For full programme details CLICK HERE. With strict planning and safety measures in place, the venue will be able to accommodate 220 audience members utilising the full height and all three levels of the atmospheric amphitheatre for the first time in the modern era.
London Concertante – The launch is announced of a socially distanced summer concert series, entitled ‘Secret Garden Concerts’, in a bid to embrace the recent outdoor performance regulations. A series of five outdoor performances will be hosted in the beautiful surroundings of their newly-formed outdoor garden venue in Streatham Hill throughout August, accompanied by a sparkling wine reception and a stunning menu. The arts have been arguably one of the hardest-hit sectors during the Coronavirus crisis, yet musicians and actors, as well as all those across the arts, have tried to find inventive ways of reaching their audiences, and London Concertante has been no exception. With their Spring/Summer season wiped out, at a loss of nearly half their annual turnover, they’ve been thinking of new and exciting ways in which they can reach out to their audience before concerts are allowed to resume. The stunning outdoor venue in Streatham Hill will host a series of five intimate concerts throughout August, performed by London Concertante members and friends of the ensemble. Musicians include The David Gordon Trio, The Camarilla Ensemble, London Concertante’s Guest Director Jonathan Stone, harpsichordist David Wright and of course London Concertante itself as well as many more. More details can be found if you CLICK HERE.
Maria Marchant’s ‘7 Notes in 7 Days at 7pm’ – Maria Marchant’s project started in lockdown, giving a live premiere performance each Monday night at 7pm on her professional Facebook page (CLICK HERE), showcasing a different composer each week in a unique call for scores. Now in its 12th week, the project has moved from her sitting room to the stunning Blüthner Piano Centre in Baker Street where she now films the live streams from. On Monday 27th July there was the world premiere of Roderick Williams’s ‘Chaconne at Five’, a super jazzy solo piano piece that Roddy wrote in his student days.
Edinburgh International Festival 2020 – Covid-19 has not dimmed the creativity of artists, nor the enthusiasm of all the people who make Edinburgh’s festivals. My Light Shines On is an act of optimism and solidarity: a series of world-class artistic interventions celebrating a spark that still burns bright. For the first time since lockdown began, artists have returned to the venues they love to make theatre together, to play music together, to sing together, to dance together and to light up the skies together. On 8 August, we celebrate what would have been the opening weekend of the 2020 festival season. A specially commissioned film featuring new work from artists across genres airs on our YouTube channel, Facebook Live and BBC Scotland at 9.30pm. The film features famous faces from festivals across the years, as well as collaborations with other Edinburgh festivals. This unique broadcast launches a series of new recorded activity, which will be viewable throughout August on our YouTube channel. For more information CLICK HERE.
Guildhall School of Music & Drama – GSMD has announced its Autumn Season of events, which will all be delivered digitally and free of charge. From late-September 2020, online audiences will be able to enjoy a mixture of live broadcast and pre-recorded content from across all School departments, created, performed and filmed at Guildhall School with the required social distancing. Soprano Julia Bullock will be welcomed as Artist in Residence at Guildhall School for the seasons 2020–2022. Known for her versatile artistry and probing intellect, Bullock will draw on her depth of experience to work with Vocal students in masterclasses and performance projects, guiding them on programming and on developing their own creative processes. Guildhall’s Autumn Season music events include the rescheduled Gold Medal final – the School’s most prestigious prize, this year celebrating instrumentalists – and the return of Takuo Yuasa to conduct the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra in a programme of Dvořák, Janáček, and Sibelius. Guildhall School’s Autumn drama productions include a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Suba Das, and a new devised piece entitled Pod co-created by Jamie Bradley and Vicki Igbokwe, made with the Company. Students on the BA Performance and Creative Enterprise (PACE) programme will also share a series of self-devised works in a three-day online festival called Chapters, complemented by a regular series of conversations with inspiring guest speakers throughout the season. The Opera department presents a triple bill of Italian works directed by Stephen Medcalf and conducted by Head of Opera Dominic Wheeler: Mascagni’s Zanetto; Wolf-Ferrari’s Il segreto di Susanna (Susanna’s Secret); and Donizetti’s Two men and a woman (Rita). The Guildhall Jazz department will present the first in a year-long series of concerts charting the history of big band, beginning with the 1920s and 1930s. Masterclasses and curated concerts will take place with artists including pianists Stephen Hough, Imogen Cooper, Iain Burnside and Julius Drake; composers Jonathan Dove and Alison Bauld; and singers Kate Royal and Roderick Williams. The School’s Research Works seminars continue in online format throughout the season, in which staff, students and visiting speakers discuss the findings of their ongoing research.
All content will be available to watch online, for free, via Guildhall School’s website. To account for social distancing, ground-breaking low-latency technology will be used to enable larger ensembles to perform together in real time from from across different venues at the School. Staged productions will feature the work of the School’s Production Arts department, created in collaboration with the Opera and Drama departments in accordance with safety and social distancing guidelines.
Event dates and further information will be announced soon and for more information CLICK HERE.
Glyndebourne Festival Opera – Glyndebourne was forced to cancel its 2020 Festival and close its doors following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic but, in early July, as lockdown eased, the opera house announced a mini-festival of outdoor performances, tickets for which sold out in just 40 minutes.
Now, Glyndebourne has announced that it is extending the season, adding more concerts by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE), a recital performance by Glyndebourne’s Jerwood Young Artists and additional Open Gardens days.
Each year the Jerwood Young Artists programme supports exceptionally talented young singers from the Glyndebourne Chorus. The new outdoor concert will mark 10 years of the programme and brings together four singers who have been supported through the programme in recent years – soprano Madison Nonoa-Horsefield (2020), mezzo soprano Emma Kerr (2015), tenor John Findon (2017) and tenor Frederick Jones (2019). They will perform a selection of operatic classics, accompanied by pianist Matthew Fletcher, with performances on 29 and 30 August.
The OAE will give six performances of a programme of music by Mozart, Beethoven and Jonathan Dove, conducted by Glyndebourne Chorus Director Aidan Oliver.
For more information CLICK HERE.