This season, three photojournalism students from London College of Communication – Aylin Elci,Clelia Carbonari and Tamara Craiu – have been working with us to document the life of the London Sinfonietta backstage.

On Saturday 14 February they joined us at rehearsals for our Steve Reich concert in Kings Place. Take a look at their work below, capturing iconic pieces such as Clapping Music and Four Organs:



Ahead of our Spectrum of Sound concert on Friday 27 February, the first in a series of two, we asked BAFTA nominated composer Mica Levi to give us an insight into the music she’s currently enjoying and being inspired by. Tickets for Friday are sold out, but join us for the second part in the series on Saturday 28 March.

Felicita EP frenemies

Lang Lang Chopin: Études

Suicideyear Remembrance

Oliver Coates Towards the Blessed Island

Deftones White Pony


Our latest (Un)easy Listening post uncovers the music of György Ligeti, a composer featured in our upcoming Spectrum of Sound series. Philip Cashian, composer and Head of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music, reveals some of the devices and techniques Ligeti used to manipulate sound. Join us on Saturday 28 March to hear his seminal Chamber Concerto live.

580 x 100 new copyINTRODUCTION

Few pieces written in the second half of the 20th century have been so influential and widely acclaimed as the Chamber Concerto by Transylvanian born György Ligeti (1923-2006). Written between 1969 and 1970 and scored for 13 instruments, the piece has become staple repertoire for the type of new music ensemble that started to appear in the 1960s and 70s (such as the London Sinfonietta) that takes a single instrument from each family of the orchestra for it’s line-up.

After the war Ligeti studied at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest but left Hungary after the revolution in late 1956 for Vienna. Almost immediately he went to Cologne to work with Stockhausen in the WGR Electronic Music Studio. Except for Glissandi and Artikulation (watch them here) he produced little electronic music, but the long term influence working in the studio had on his instrumental music was huge.

In the Chamber Concerto, Ligeti’s incredible ability to produce the most exquisite and intricately detailed and orchestrated layers of music – both pitched and unpitched –  comes to the fore, whilst at the same time remaining playful in nature. This is after he honing such techniques as heterophony, micro polyphony and a granular approach to pulse in the large scale works of the 1960s such as the Requiem and Atmosphères. Here are further explanations of those techniques:

The simultaneous playing of lines that are almost sounding in unison, but not quite, so that the combined effect creates a new sound.

Chamber Concerto movement one 0:38-1:27

Micro polyphony
Ligeti described micro polyphony as “something like a very dense woven cobweb”. Polyphony can be described as the independent co-existence of musical lines; Ligeti’s micro-polyphony is a saturation of these lines so that individual lines get lost and a ‘cloud’ of musical texture is created.

Atmosphères 2:31-2:57

Granular approach to pulse and rhythm
Musical material is stripped down to it’s simplest element and repeated to create a simple, repetitive pattern which is then combined with similiar layers and slowly transformed.

Chamber Concerto movement three opening – 0:28



Movement One

1:11-1:38 – Listen out for the emergence of the slow moving, sustained solo horn which takes us into the next section with woodwind and keyboards.

3:15  – An unexpected chord of E flats spread over five octaves that resolves the tension of the ‘swarming’ music of the previous section.

Movement Two

Opening at 0:48 – Listen to how the music for wind, brass and strings melts into a sustained chord for solo organ at 0:48. At 0:54 flute, oboe and clarinet emerge over the organ and slowly evolve into heterophonic lines until 1:51.

Movement Three

0:47-3:18  – Ligeti had a life-long fascination with mechanical music and broken machines. This section starts off with everyone playing together and then they slowly start to splinter: 1:25, 1:44, 2:00, 2:12.

Movement Four

0:50 – 1:03 – Piccolo and bass clarinet have an extremely virtuosic duet, playing in unison four octaves apart.

1:47 – A manic solo piano is suddenly snapped up by double bass and the music slowly rises up through the ensemble.



Unsuk Chin Piano Concerto

Kaijia Saariaho Verblendungen

Tom Adès Living Toys

Phillipe Manoury Fragments pour un portrait

Harrison Birtwistle Harrison’s Clocks


This is Mica Levi

Mica Levi by Steven LegereThis month, BAFTA nominated composer Mica Levi takes on our quickfire questions in the lead up to the London Sinfonietta’s Spectrum of Sound series, on Friday 27 February (sold out) and Saturday 28 March at Southbank Centre. In the first event of the series we premiere her new piece Greezy.

She shares her highs, her lows and her best musical joke:

What do you regard as your greatest artistic achievement?

I broke in and climbed up a city building under construction with my friends as a teen, to the scaffolding’s 11th floor – that was freedom. I could tell you my worst more easily.

What do you fear?

Boredom, constant sadness, arthritis (fear itself).

Which piece of music has had the biggest effect on you as a composer?

Recently Sun Ra’s When There Is No Sun, but music changes my life into another direction quite often.

What’s the most unusual performance you’ve been a part of?

My band and I played a song of ours with about 40 school kids in a church once – that was insane, it was way better than the original.

What’s currently on your coffee table at home?

A rizla and a blank CD.

What was the first recording you ever bought?

Probably the Beatles second hand <3. But new music was Comin’ Atcha! by Cleopatra (an all girl group from Birmingham, 1998).

Describe your compositional style in three words.

Bored, sad, arthritis.

If you could have any other profession, what would it be?

A pro-footballer, pro-racing driver or pro-jungle trawler. Sorry that’s three!

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

My Dad probably.

Tell us your best musical joke.

What’s the difference between the first desk of the violas and the second? A semi tone.


Over ten weeks the London Sinfonietta is collaborating with Christian Marclay at his solo exhibition in White Cube Bermondsey: a series of Sunday afternoon concerts premiere new works written in response to his installation Pub Crawl. Here’s a round up of all the buzz surrounding this meeting of music and art. Click on the links to view full articles.


This season, three photojournalism students from London College of Communication – Aylin Elci,Clelia Carbonari and Tamara Craiu – have been working with us to document the life of the London Sinfonietta backstage.

On Wednesday 21 January, they joined us to not only document the rehearsal of Dillon’s Stabat Mater dolorosa but also to capture some memories of the Queen Elizabeth Hall in the run up to its closure and renovation. Take a look at their work below:

Stabat Maters from across the ages

Ahead of the London premiere of Dillon’s brand new Stabat Mater Dolorosa on Wednesday 21 January, we’ve been looking back at some other interpretations of this iconic text. Here’s a playlist of twelve Stabat Maters from across the ages:

1. John Browne

2. Antonin Dvořak

3. Franz Joseph Haydn

4. Herbert Howells

5. Zoltán Kodály

6. Frank Martin

7. Arvo Pärt

8. Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

9. Gioacchino Rossini

10. Antonio Vivaldi

11. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

12. Francis Poulenc


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