The re-opening of the Royal Festival Hall, after two years of restoration and redevelopment, will be heralded by The Overture: 48 hours of free music, dance, spoken word, film and visual arts presented by 18,000 performers. There will be something for everyone, with participants being those who have either pre-prepared work to perform or just want to come along during the weekend and join in. One of the highlights will be the opportunity to attend a ‘Lucky Dip’ concert inside the spectacularly restored Royal Festival Hall auditorium, with at least 10,000 free tickets available. An additional 14,000 free tickets can be booked for named concerts** inside the Hall. People from all over Britain are invited to join the celebrations starting at dusk on Friday 8 June and running until dusk on Sunday 10 June.
The Overture will be one of the most ambitious musical and participation events ever staged in Britain, including performances around the Southbank Centre site: indoors in the foyers, The Ballroom and auditorium, on the terraces, Southbank Centre Square, along the river front and on the river itself. Among the invited artists are Billy Bragg, who has written a new translation of Schiller’s text for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony to be performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra*, conducted by Paul Daniel with a choir of 2,000 singers from all over Britain; The London Sinfonietta* in a mass performance of Terry Riley’s iconic 1960’s work, In C; The London Philharmonic Orchestra* and Scott Stroman will recreate a big band sound in The Ballroom; choreographer Lea Anderson will recreate her 1998 work, Flag, on a grand scale, for 230 performers from 13 national dance agencies around the country; an 800-strong choir will present Singing River, a new choral work specially composed by Orlando Gough; Saint Etienne* will present a special Turntable Café over the weekend; students from Central Saint
Martins College of Art are designing an open-air Pendopo (Gamelan Pavilion) for the Riverside
Terrace in which 27 Gamelan Ensembles from across the country will perform; Shlomo*, world- renowned human beatboxer, will lead a Beatbox Choir in The Ballroom; The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment* and gospel conductor Ken Burton, with The Sixteen*, will present a Baroque and Gospel concert; top jazz musicians Harry Beckett and his band join 2,500 six and seven year olds from Lambeth primary schools to sing four specially-commissioned concerts in the Royal Festival Hall auditorium; the UK’s top ballroom dancers, including Strictly Come Dancing stars Matthew and Nicole Cutler, will perform across the The Ballroom and the riverside terraces; Billy Bragg will teach guitar chords and invite the audience to join him in performing some of his favourite London songs; Antony Gormley’s exhibition, Blind Light, will be open in The Hayward for a free dawn view; Overture Radio, run by young people, will broadcast on air and online throughout the weekend and including the small hours of the mornings between 2 am and 6 am allowing audiences across the country to participate in The Overture.
Jude Kelly, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre, said: “The Overture reflects the huge commitment of our Resident Artists to the vision of a renewed Southbank Centre, still alive to the original creative spirit of the 1951 Festival of Britain, the genesis of the Royal Festival Hall itself. So before the Gala Opening Night and all the spectacular concerts which follow, The Overture will provide an historic moment that belongs to every single person in the country.”
*Resident or Associate Southbank Centre Artist
**See Listings below
Saint Etienne’s Turntable Café is presented in association with Agnés b
48 hours of free celebrations for the re-opening of the Royal Festival Hall
Southbank Centre, London SE1
Friday 8 June – Sunday 10 June
Dusk on Friday until dusk on Sunday.
For full details of The Overture programme, to apply for free tickets, and for information about how to take part in the events, log on to the website www.southbankcentre.co.uk/overture or call the Ticket Office on 0871 663 2533. Tickets are available by phone or in person from 30 May.