Matthew’s 2015-16 highlights

Posted on: April 29, 2016 in: Uncategorised

MatthewheadshotMatthew Swann, CLS Chief Executive, reviews our RE:Imagine season – from Venice to Paris, vast symphonies in strange places and intimate chamber music in grand cathedrals.

It has been a wonderful season of re-imaginings – through the Grand Salons of Vienna, to Venice’s canals, reflections of Paris, a New York jazz club in the 1950’s, the English countryside and through dance, discussion, wine and song.

As we put the finishing touches to our 2016-17 season (announced shortly!) it is also a good time to reflect on some of the highlights of the RE:Imagine series. There were wonderful moments throughout the season, and no doubt you will have your favourites, but these were my stand-out performances.

CLoSer: Debussy, Copland and Dance

The first was the incredible choreography that Tony Adigun brought to our Debussy, Copland and the Dance CLoSer programme in September. I think that there is often a danger with what was once new and radical losing its potency when it becomes part of the cannon. Tony’s visceral and physical choreography to Debussy’s Prélude à L’Après-midi d’un faune, reminded us that Debussy’s music was based on a poem that was considered shocking and erotic when it was first composed.


The Viennese Salon

Next was the wonderful Dame Felicity Lott and her tour de force at the Sam Wannamaker Theatre at the Globe Playhouse in the Viennese Salon. We are thrilled that Dame Felicity continues to be our Patron and performs with us. I speak no German beyond a vague school memory of asking where the train station is, and ordering several varieties of German Beer (courtesy of a student summer spent studying trumpet there), but Dame Felicity made us all feel like fluent German speakers in her Viennese Salon songs – every nuance and innuendo was brilliantly conveyed, even in a foreign tongue.

CLoSer: Sketches of Miles

Our Sketches of Miles concert, with our great friend Gwilym Simcock, which brought me closer to albums I have loved for over 30 years – the classic ‘crossover’ albums that the jazz trumpeter Miles Davis and producer/arranger Gil Evans made in the 1950s. Bringing these iconic albums to a venue like Village Underground, complete with jazz club seating, and to a packed house was a real thrill.


Wine tasting

City of London Sinfonia: CLoSer

It has been a great pleasure to work with Amelia Singer on a series of themed wine tastings this year, around our Venetian, English and Parisian concerts. As Amelia says, wine at its best is an art form as well as a science, as is music, and the pairings she has conjured up have been a revelation. Amelia is currently starring in The Wine Show on ITV4 and she brought that same energy and humour to our themed tastings.

Paris Reflected

I am delighted to say, though, that we saved the best to last, and our final concert of the season, Paris Reflected at Southwark Cathedral, was one of my all-time musical highlights. The sounds that Benjamin Nicholas, making his début with CLS, conjured from the orchestra and our friends the Holst Singers and the Southwark Cathedral Girls Choir, were, in the words of any number of people I spoke to on the night, spine-tingling.


Thank you for joining us this season – as I mentioned, details will shortly be announced for our 2016-17 season. To get priority booking and a whole host of benefits, join as a CLS Friend from just £50.

See you later in the year,



Images: James Berry