This summer, Guildhall School of Music & Drama presents a varied programme of events for the public to enjoy, including concerts, drama, opera and jazz.
Orla O’Loughlin directs the world stage premiere of Stef Smith’s Antigone
A double bill of operatic works by British composers: Holst’s Sāvitri and Judith Weir’s Blond Eckbert
Four singers Miku Yasukawa, Michael Lafferty-Smith, Alexandra Achillea Pouta and Lorna McLean compete for the School’s prestigious Gold Medal
The winner of the 2022 Guildhall Wigmore Prize, pianist William Bracken, gives his debut Wigmore Hall recital
The Jazz department presents concerts paying tribute to the Harlem Renaissance and Miles Davis
Junior Guildhall Symphony Orchestra is joined by soloist Alex Ciulin for a performance of Dvořãk’s Cello Concerto
Details of the summer season’s events can be found below.
5–12 July, Silk Street Theatre
A contemporary retelling of the classic story of Antigone, her siblings and her city. This epic and lyrical reimagining of the classic Greek tragedy mixes ancient legend with modern perspective, resulting in a powerful exploration of generational damage, family devotion and how hope is found in the most desperate of places. Written by Olivier Award-winner Stef Smith and specially commissioned for Guildhall School of Music & Drama, this is the play’s world stage premiere directed by multi-award-winning director Orla O’Loughlin, Vice Principal & Director of Drama at Guildhall School.
5–12 June, Silk Street Theatre
Two imaginative and haunting British chamber operas from opposite ends of the 20th century feature in Guildhall School’s summer opera double bill.
Composed in 1916, Holst’s 35-minute opera Sāvitri tells the story of the title character’s devotion to her husband Satyavan in the face of Death. Based on an episode from a Sanskrit epic, Holst used his studies of this ancient language to translate the story into his own English libretto, which combines with colourful orchestration to explore the power of love and questions of mortality.
Judith Weir also wrote her own libretto for her 1993 work Blonde Eckbert, taking inspiration from the dark fairy tale by Romantic German writer Ludwig Tieck. The eerie and captivating opera by the Master of the King’s Music tells the story of Eckbert and his wife Berthe, whose solitary life together in the forest unravels after a mysterious visitor opens up a disturbing door to the past. This Guildhall production offers the chance to hear the one-act, ‘pocket’ version of the opera.
6–11 July, Milton Court Studio Theatre
Lantern Fish composed by Luka Venter, with libretto by David Bottomley
Lost Property composed by Anna Disley-Simpson, with libretto by Olivia Bell
Reborns composed by Elif Nur Karlidag, with libretto by Stanley Lawson
Performed by singers and repetiteurs from the first year of the Guildhall Opera Course, Opera Makers features new works written by composers and librettists on Guildhall’s MA in Opera Making & Writing.
Yahael Camara Onono Masterclass & Performance
Friday 28 April, 2pm (Masterclass) & Saturday 29 April, 7.30pm (Performance), Milton Court Concert Hall
Milton Court Artist-in-Residence Yahael Camara Onono introduces an expansive masterclass, aimed at aspiring and emerging musicians, providing expertise on how to navigate the music industry today. He will be joined by fellow Balimaya Project members to speak on industry, touring, recording and writing process, plus a Q&A for any young musician wanting to leave the practice room and get on the road. The following day Camara Onono will take to the Milton Court stage for a performance with musicians from Balimaya Project, SEED Ensemble, Kokoroko, Lévitation Orchestra and Pyjæn for an entirely improvised set of folkloric music, blending ancient tradition with contemporary jazz and its improvisational structures.
Sunday 7 May, 1pm, Milton Court Concert Hall
In celebration of one of the most original and influential figures in 21st-century music, BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Total Immersion day explores the music of Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. Guildhall School musicians will perform Calices, Changing Light, Spins & Spells, and Miranda’s Lament in celebration of the composer’s chamber music.
Wednesday 10 May, 7pm, Barbican Hall
The final of Guildhall School’s most prestigious music prize returns with a concert at Barbican Hall, offering the chance to enjoy songs and arias performed by four outstanding Guildhall vocalists. Singers Miku Yasukawa, Michael Lafferty-Smith, Alexandra Achillea Pouta and Lorna McLean will perform with piano and with Guildhall Symphony Orchestra conducted by Richard Farnes. The evening will close with the adjudication by the panel, which includes Armin Zanner, Roberta Alexander, Sir Simon Keenlyside, Michelle Williams and Sue Spence, and the announcement of the winner.
Tuesday 16 May, 7.30pm, Wigmore Hall
This prize annually awards an exceptional musician from Guildhall School of Music & Drama with a Wigmore Hall recital. The winner of the 2022 Guildhall Wigmore Prize, pianist William Bracken, gives his debut Wigmore Hall recital with a programme spanning three centuries, including Beethoven, Liszt, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Unsuk Chin.
Guildhall School’s Chamber Music Festival returns in July with three days of performances from some of the School’s most accomplished chamber groups and student–professor collaborations. Further details to be announced at a later date.
Wednesday 17 May, 7.30pm, Milton Court Concert Hall
A night of celebration of the vibrant and eclectic music of the Harlem Renaissance; an era that marked a major turning point in the cultural and artistic history of the African American community. Author and journalist Kevin Le Gendre joins to guide the musical journey through the sounds of the Harlem Renaissance and to narrate as the audience takes a step back in time and imagines themselves transported to the jazz clubs and cabarets of the 1920s and 1930s. Guildhall Big Band and Guildhall Jazz Choir with special guest clarinettist Giacomo Smith under the direction of Matt Skelton and Clare Wheeler lead a musical exploration into a time when jazz, blues, and gospel music flourished and became the voice of the African American community.
Thursday 13 July, 7.30pm, Milton Court Concert Hall
Composed in tribute to Miles Davis in 1984, and the final album to be released during his lifetime, Aura saw Miles collaborate with Danish trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg to create a unique conceptual work. The ten movements encompass everything from blues to funk to reggae, and represent, in the broadest possible terms, what writer Herb Wong described as Miles’ “charismatic and nutritious aura”.
The work’s main theme consists of ten notes generated from the letters ‘M-I-L-E-S-D-A-V-I-S’, with each movement representing a different colour of Davis’ aura as seen by Mikkelborg. It was described by Fred Kaplan of New York magazine as a “jolting synthesis of jazz, rock, and Messiaen-influenced classical music that lit up a future path lamentably unfollowed”.
In this concert performance, Guildhall Jazz Orchestra – under the direction of Scott Stroman and with special guest trumpet player Robbie Robson – return to the original orchestral score to present a fresh look at the material that was to become one of Miles’ finest works for the final decade of his life.
STAND BY: Production Arts Graduate Exhibition 2023
7–8 June, from 2pm, Milton Court
StandBy exhibits some of the outstanding work of final-year students on Guildhall School’s Production Arts and Video Design for Live Performance programmes, as they prepare to join the creative industry’s workforce. It’s a chance to see up close a range of props, scenery, costumes, lighting, sound and video designs created for the School’s public operas, dramas, musicals, and external projects, as well as portfolios and personal projects. Many of the students will be present to talk about their work.
Children and Young People
Tuesday 18 April, 7.30pm, Milton Court Concert Hall
Bradley Wilson, the first Resident Conductor of the LSSO, opens this concert with Errollyn Wallen’s Mighty River, composed to mark the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act.
Two alumni of the London Schools Symphony Orchestra and Centre for Young Musicians then lead the young LSSO musicians of today in Elgar’s Cello Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4. Internationally renowned conductor and former leader of the Philharmonia Orchestra Christopher Warren-Green is joined by leading cellist Matthew Sharp. Both herald from earlier generations of London’s premier youth orchestra.
Saturday 1 July, 6pm, Milton Court Concert Hall
The outstanding young musicians of Junior Guildhall Symphony Orchestra return to the Milton Court stage. The programme includes Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, performed by soloist Alex Ciulin, winner of the 2019 Junior Guildhall Lutine Prize, conducted by Julian Clayton.
In addition to the above events, Guildhall School offers audiences an array of regular concerts, masterclasses, recitals, competitions and seminars which are free of charge to attend. Highlights this season include a Guildhall Big Band celebration of Oliver Nelson, a piano masterclass with Dame Imogen Cooper, the Guildhall Harp Festival, a residency from Robert Levin, a visit from vocal group EXAUDI and the Junior Guildhall Lutine Prize final.
For more information on Guildhall School’s summer season, including an array of free concerts, masterclasses, recitals, competitions and seminars, visit gsmd.ac.uk/events
Priority booking for Guildhall School Circle members and Patrons opens at 10am on Monday 27 March 2023. General booking opens at 10am on Monday 3 April 2023.