Through the Lens: Exhibition

On Friday 18 July, we celebrated our season-long collaboration with photojournalism students from the London College of Communication in our Through the Lens exhibition. The four photographers worked with their mentor, professional photographer Briony Campbell, to each select five images for the exhibition. Here’s the final cut:

Abdi Ibrahim

Maja Smiejkowska

Hildegard Titus

Claudia Vye

Jon Farey’s London Sinfonietta Academy diary – Day 7

Jon Farey reflects on his last day at this year’s London Sinfonietta Academy… We’re going to miss our daily dose of Academy news! A big thank you to Jon for all his work on the blog this week.

Concert day with the London Sinfonietta Academy 2014! It’s been such a week, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in seven days. At 10am, all bleary eyed, we ran the concert programme and made a final few tweaks. We were at a point where we knew the music and it was just a case of bringing out the final few colours that we wanted. Another early lunch, on the walk to finding my concert fuel I passed, once more, the children’s book illustrations that are advertising the House of Illustrations’ Quentin Blake ‘Inside Stories’ exhibition, that details the artist’s illustrations for authors that include Roald Dahl and Michael Rosen. My favourite is this cheeky chappy by Anthony Browne:

After lunch it was concert time. Pierre-André had asked us to keep the focus when moving from piece to piece – since we were playing six very contrasting pieces it was crucial to ensure that we were clinical in focusing and locking in for each piece. After my pre-concert banana and coconut water ritual, I read through my music and clarified to myself my intentions in each piece and before I knew it, it was concert time.

The stage, pre-concert:

On the whole I was really happy with how the concert went – a couple of slips, but nothing that detracted from our musical intention. Pierre-André’s face as we finished the final piece in the programme, Xenakis’ Jalons, was a picture – if I had been able to take a picture it would have told you all that you needed to know. The biggest grin I had seen all week; he looked happy, relieved and satisfied. Needless to say that I share these feelings, it has been an incredible week that couldn’t have gone smoother – we have worked hard and reaped the benefits in playing an incredibly fun and satisfying concert. A huge thank you to all at the London Sinfonietta, including Pierre-André, the principal players, Tina Speed, Shoubhik and the team – thank you all for such an inspiring week and for giving me the chance to write about it in this blog!

Jon Farey’s London Sinfonietta Academy diary – Day 6

We’ve reached the penultimate day in horn player Jon Farey’s London Sinfonietta Academy diary! Here’s what happened on Day 6…

The penultimate day of the London Sinfonietta Academy! An absolutely glorious morning, I went for a stroll around the perimeter of Central Saint Martins and found my new favourite street name…:

The front of Central Saint Martins, basking in the sun:


Pierre-André kept it short today, just running everything and neatening up a few corners. It’s amazing how well we have got to know the pieces and I’m really looking forward to the concert. If I play the pieces as I did today I would be happy, however having had quite a heavy day of playing yesterday it’ll be great to have fresher lips tomorrow after a lighter day today.

During the lunch hour I went for a little stroll around Kings Cross, this time exploring the half of the station that I hadn’t seen. I really like the way that the warehouse structures have been stylishly re-used:

It’s been amazing to have so much time to work on the pieces, it’s so rare that we have the chance in this profession to learn a piece inside out and I will miss it!

Jon Farey’s London Sinfonietta Academy diary – Day 5

The London Sinfonietta Academy is over for another year! We still have a few diary entries left from Jon Farey to reflect upon this week. Here’s his entry from the fifth day on the course.

Day five and things are really starting to take shape. We started the day with Iris by Tansy Davies – it’s amazing how this week has really opened up my ears, we’re reaching a point where we know our own parts and we are listening to each other and bringing the best out in each other. Usually I’m not a huge fan of percussion, having to be right in front of them in orchestras, but there are some really interesting colours used and the classy playing of Joe Richards is really coming out in Iris – it is quite a catchy part! Along the same line of catchy rhythms, Pierre-André impressed today by relating John Woorich’s After the Clock to the tango – in order to make the most cohesive sound he told us to aim for the exact point that his beat goes down, just like tango dancers do.

An early lunch ensued after a good morning’s work: a few of us went to the canteen at Central Saint Martins, a well priced and tasty bean burger in pitta and roast vegetables for myself after a slightly over-indulgent wine, pizza and garlic bread supper last night… It’s been really fun meeting new people on this course, and a few of us decided against braving the miserable weather and stayed in the dry after lunch:

Greg missed his graduation from RWCMD to be with us today, so he mocked up his own Central Saint Martins graduation ceremony! Many congrats Greg!

Fake graduation

This afternoon we worked through OG, neatening a few corners before moving onto Richard Causton’s Untitled 2014. To create a more subdued colour he now has the strings using practice mutes! To compliment this and our brass harmonicas (see day 3), he also has a typewriter being played expertly by Daniel Chappell:

Pre-dress rehearsal dress rehearsal tomorrow (including an hour extra in bed, hooray!), before the concert day on Sunday. This week is flying by!

Jon Farey’s London Sinfonietta Academy Diary – day 4

As the London Sinfonietta Academy week goes on, Sunday’s Musicians of Tomorrow final performance is getting ever closer! Here’s Jon’s latest entry from day four.

Grab your free ticket for the final performance at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design here.

Day four of the London Sinfonietta Academy. Bright and early first thing today we ran through Xenakis’s Jalons. Quite a start for 10am! It was great to work on it with the rest of the ensemble after yesterday’s sectional on it, and it was interesting to hear where my part slotted in with the others. In the sectional yesterday we also worked on the different playing styles and how in the type of music that we are learning this week we should aim for a different sound to the typical orchestral sound that we are usually taught, it was great to put this into practice.

After the Xenakis we worked on Rune Glerup’s Divertimento to take us through to lunch. It has been great to work on a piece dedicated to our conductor Pierre-André Valade, he really knows exactly what sounds and colours he wants in the music. The biggest challenge of the piece is a pianississimo semi-tone dissonance that I have with the clarinet. Tutor Mark van de Wiel gave some great advice, that we should find how it feels when it works and to then be a technician and reproduce that every time.

Now that we are over halfway through the week it is starting to feel like we have made real progress – we are getting to a point where we can comfortably run a piece and know where we slot in. During the lunch hour we managed to commandeer one of the table tennis tables in the entrance to Central Saint Martins. What fun! I haven’t played since primary school (naturally I was beaten hands down by the talented Jamie Kenny (double bass) and Toby Street (trumpet)):

After lunch we finished the day with a quick rehearsal of OG and then a session with Richard Causton, the composer of the new commission for this week. It was great to get more of an insight into what he wants from the piece and it also meant that myself and Toby had another chance to perfect our harmonica entries!

Pierre-André and Richard Causton deep in discussion about the new commission:


Jon Farey’s London Sinfonietta Academy Diary – Day 3

We’re rattling through our Academy week! Here’s Jon Farey‘s account of Day 3 on the course.

Tickets for the Musicians of Tomorrow final performance this Sunday 13 July 3pm are still available and can be booked here.

Day three on the London Sinfonietta Academy. A couple of strong coffees and a good warm up to start the day and we were into another brass sectional, this time with London Sinfonietta and Philharmonia Orchestra trumpeter, Alistair Mackie. It was great to work through the same music with Alistair and to work on all the different things that he found in the music in contrast to what we worked on with Michael Thompson yesterday, including sound games to get us playing quintuplets and septuplets! It worked a real treat, especially with the Xenakis where we spent considerable time locking in and working on complex unison rhythms. Alistair also mentioned his thoughts on score presentation (see my first entry and Michael Thompson’s picture with the Xenakis score!) and how the different style of presentation should be a factor in how the piece is played.

Having yesterday posted pictures of the surrounding area here at Central St Martins, over lunch I started to have a think about what I could snap today. The inspiration came in the afternoon rehearsal when I was sitting next to Jemima on contrabassoon and Elaine on bass clarinet, with a considerable array of percussion behind me. The amount of colour that the pieces use from the instrumentation is magnificent, and so I decided to give you a snapshot of the colourful instruments used and to then see whether I could find colour in other art forms dotted around the building. After marching up and down several flights of stairs, I eventually came across a series of art studios. Whether what I took photos of was art, the inspiration for it or the remains of it I shall leave you to decide, but here are a few photos of the different art form colours that I found and enjoyed.

Firstly, the ensemble colours used, in rehearsal for Iris by Tansy Davies.

A smattering of percussion:

Bassoon and clarinets on their doubling instruments:

Elaine’s second doubling instrument, the contrabass clarinet!

The brass doubling instruments…:

Secondly, a few pieces of art/remains of found around Central St Martins:

Jon Farey’s London Sinfonietta Academy Diary – Day 2

All this week, London Sinfonietta Academy participant Jon Farey is writing a daily account of his experience. The course, consisting of workshops, masterclasses and rehearsals with brilliant young players auditioned from music colleges across the UK and coached by London Sinfonietta Principal Players, culminates on Sunday 13 July at 3pm in the Musicians of Tomorrow performance at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. Tickets for the concert are free and can be booked here

In the meantime, here’s what Jon made of his second day.

The day began with legendary horn player and all-round nice guy Michael Thompson leading a brass sectional. This included some fun and games reading from a vastly full score to the Xenakis, amongst going through all the other pieces we are working on this week. It was really interesting, in the Xenakis in particular, to figure out where we were together and where we were fractionally different to each other.

Mike Thompson shows us a page of the score to Xenakis’s Jalons:

During the lunch hour I managed to have a wander around Central Saint Martins and the surrounding area. Seeing all the contrasting structures (traditional against modern builds) got me thinking about how OG by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen (getting there with the pronunciation) is put together in a similar way to Kings Cross and the surrounding area – it takes Don Giovanni as the influence, finds quotes from it and then takes these quotes as the base material for the piece. Kings Cross has the skeleton of the original buildings as the starting point and uses and adapts these to intertwine with modern builds. To continue the architecture in music theme, Pierre-André Valade came out with a quote of the day this afternoon. Along similar lines with the Xenakis, he said that Xenakis is the architect, with the notes and patterns being his building blocks. He then puts these together to create the piece.

The inside of Central Saint Martins:

More of the inside, where old meets new:

Inside Kings Cross:

Kings Cross

This afternoon, as well as the Xenakis, we had our first run through of Rune Glerup’s Divertimento – the piece involves several passages where no actual notes are played by the wind players, but instead we are directed to blow through our instruments to create a colour… It was interesting to see how this fitted in the piece and how effective it was!

I’m currently in the Platform Theatre, where the concert will take place this Sunday 13 July at 3pm, enjoying the London Sinfonietta players rehearsing Birtwistle’s Silbury Air. Named after Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, the biggest artificial mound in Europe, the piece explores the ‘juxtaposition and repetition of static blocks’. After six hours of rehearsal it is nice to be able to put my feet up!



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