Russian music at the Barbican

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View of the Barbican from the walkway

As part of my bid to explore more classical music, I attended a couple of events at the Barbican. Admittedly one of these was partly to experience a concert within St Giles Church, Cripplegate, which is within the Barbican complex.

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St Giles Church, Cripplegate

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Inside St Giles

BBC Singers at Six: Shostakovich, Stalin and Soviet Russia saw the BBC Singers perform some choral works by a number of Russian singers. I’m not remotely religious but I do love a bit of choral singing; it’s impressive and unearthly and this church is the perfect setting, although I was slightly distracted by what I think was the sound of a rattling tea urn.

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Programme for the evening

This short concert was a precursor to the evening’s programme in the Barbican Hall. This was my first visit to the Hall and I was impressed by the openness and the colours of the chairs – a bit of a difference from the usual repetitive upholstery you get in places like this.

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Stage in the Barbican Hall

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Colourful seating in the Barbican Hall

The concert by the BBC Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Sakari Onamo and featured Leila Josefowicz on violin. The programme was as follows:

Sibelius Pohjola’s Daughter
Esa-Pekka Salonen Violin Concerto (UK premiere)
Shostakovich Symphony No 5 in D minor

The first piece was completely unfamiliar to me – I’d never heard of the composer or the music, but I really enjoyed it and would listen again. The second was also impressive. The third was the reason I’d booked for the concert: I am interested in anything Russian, and am interested in the history behind Shostakovich’s music in particular; he composed music during a particularly turbulent time in Russian history and it’s fascinating to think about how his work was viewed at the time.

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