From Monday 13 July we're partially reopening. Everyone who visits us will need a ticket in advance. Find out more

Press room

Barbican April highlights

Claire Danes as Temple Grandin
  • Soundhouse, a pop-up space for communal listening on the Barbican’s Level G, will feature a programme of surprising and thought-provoking podcasts, experimental radio and sound art. There will be a different playlist each month and a series of experimental events reflecting on audio culture and what it feels like to listen together.
  • The New York Philharmonic’s visit to the Barbican in Spring 2020 marks the first London appearances of conductor Jaap van Zweden as Music Director. He leads the Philharmonic in two performances centring around Mahler’s Symphonies No 1 & 2, with the first concert also featuring renowned pianist Daniil Trifonov performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 25.
  • Singer, songwriter, guitarist, poet, visual artist and co-founder of Sonic Youth, Lee Ranaldo and renowned producer Raül Refree will bring their new creative partnership to the Barbican’s music programme this April. In the intimate setting of Milton Court Concert Hall, the duo will present material from their forthcoming new album Names of North End Women (Mute).
  • Masculinities: Liberation through Photography continues in Barbican Art Gallery in April. Accompanying events during the month include An Uncomfortable Relationship with Masculinity: Scottee & Friends and tours of the exhibition with Tim Clark, Edwin Coomasaru and Chris Bayley.
  • Regular collaborators Katie Mitchell and Alice Birch return to the Theatre with the UK premiere of an adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, performed by the Schaubühne Berlin.
  • Ivo van Hove directs Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (ITA) in the UK premiere of a new theatrical adaptation of Death in Venice, which draws on the eponymous novella by Thomas Mann, and events in the German author’s own life.
  • Barbican Cinema and Queen Mary University of London are pleased to present Autism and Cinema: An Exploration of Neurodiversity; a season that debates new ideas arising from the relationship between autism and cinema. This programme asks how the language of cinema can be challenged and changed by autistic perspectives.

LEVEL G

Soundhouse
Falling Tree & In The Dark
Thu 23 April–Thu 16 July 2020

Soundhouse is a pop-up space for communal listening, playing a programme of surprising and thought-provoking podcasts, experimental radio and sound art. There will be a different playlist each month and a series of experimental events reflecting on audio culture and what it feels like to listen together.

Podcasts are a significant source of media in the UK; Soundhouse seeks to encourage us to be critical listeners, and provoke discussion on the content we consume, the creators of the work, and the industry at large.

A month-long pilot of this project: Soundhouse: The Listening Body took place in autumn 2018 exploring the question: what might a public space for listening together be like?

MUSIC

Lee Ranaldo & Raül Refree
+ Leila Bordreuil

Tue 7 Apr 2020, Milton Court, 7.30pm

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, poet, visual artist and co-founder of Sonic Youth, Lee Ranaldo and renowned producer Raül Refree will bring their new creative partnership to the Barbican’s music programme this April. In the intimate setting of Milton Court Concert Hall, the duo will present material from their forthcoming new album Names of North End Women (Mute).

Using marimba and vibraphone, as well as analogue sounds from old cassette tapes, the new album is a collection of songs and spoken word pieces alive with experimentalism, loosely themed around the lives that pass in and out of one’s own over the course of time.

Support comes from Brooklyn-based French cellist, composer and sound artist Leila Bordreuil whose musical output includes harsh noise, free jazz, contemporary classical and experimental traditions without adhering to any of them.

Produced by the Barbican.

Anne-Sophie Mutter plays Beethoven
Wed 8 Apr 2020, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Acclaimed violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and pianist Lambert Orkis celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday at the Barbican with a performance of Beethoven’s violin sonatas: No 4 in A minor, Op 23, No 5 in F major, Op 24 Spring, and No 9 in A major, Op 47 Kreutzer.

Part of Beethoven 250.

Lankum  
+ caroline

Wed 15 Apr 2020, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Dublin four-piece folk band Lankum will perform at the Barbican with an expanded band line-up and some special guest artists tba. The programme will include material from their 2019 album The Livelong Day (Rough Trade) which the band describe as a ‘songbook for the people’. The Livelong Day features reworkings of folk standards such as The Wild Rover and Katie Cruel alongside their own original songs.

Lankum’s combination of traditional folk roots with contemporary undercurrents forges music that is dark, mysterious and transcendental. It shows that folk music can be angry and progressive and is still a vital force today.

Support comes from London-based eight-piece band caroline.

Produced by the Barbican in association with Upset the Rhythm.

New York Philharmonic conducted by Jaap van Zweden: Mahler Symphony No 1
Thu 30 Apr 2020, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

The New York Philharmonic’s visit to the Barbican in Spring 2020 marks the first London appearances of conductor Jaap van Zweden as Music Director. He leads the Philharmonic in two performances centring around Mahler’s Symphonies No 1 & 2, with the first concert also featuring renowned pianist Daniil Trifonov performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 25. The orchestra’s relationship with Gustav Mahler goes back to the very early 20th century, when the great composer himself was the orchestra’s Music Director.

Both concerts will be preceded by pre-concert talks on Mahler’s New York, given by Barbara Haws, Archivist and Historian Emeritus of the New York Philharmonic.

London Symphony Orchestra highlights

Sir James MacMillan’s St John Passion, conducted by LSO Principal Guest Conductor Gianandrea Noseda featuring the London Symphony Chorus and baritone Marcus Farnsworth, will start the month off before Daniel Harding and violist Antoine Tamestit – the LSO’s Artist Portrait this season – come together for a performance of Jörg Widmann’s Viola Concerto on 19 April.

Sir Simon Rattle returns to conduct two concerts focusing on Bartók on 22 and 23 April – including a Half Six Fix – with mezzo-soprano Rinat Shaham and bass Gábor Bretz, before turning his attention to repertoire by Villa-Lobos, Ligeti and Mahler, joined by violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and soprano Camilla Tilling, for a concert on 26 April.

BBC Symphony Orchestra Highlights

In a very special evening on 3 April, BBC Symphony Orchestra Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo leads the UK premiere of an exciting new concerto by a composer of boundless imagination, as well as a signature Shostakovich symphony. The night begins with Rossini’s William Tell Overture, followed by the premiere of Victoria Borisova-Ollas’ Violin Concerto A Portrait of a Lady by the Swan Lake (a BBC co-commission) and Dmitri Shostakovich’s intoxicating Symphony No 15.

BBC SO Principal Guest Conductor Dalia Stasevska and acclaimed violinist Leila Josefowicz come together for an unmissable UK premiere of Helen Grime’s Violin Concerto on 17 April. The evening starts with Julian Andersen’s glittering nightscape Incantesimi, followed by Sibelius’s The Swan of Tuonela and Grime’s virtuosic and dreamlike concerto. It ends with music from Stasevska’s home country, Finland: the searing combination of fire and ice that is Sibelius’s First Symphony.

VISUAL ARTS

Toyin Ojih Odutola: A Countervailing Theory
Until Sun 26 Jul 2020, The Curve
Free admission

Barbican Art Gallery presents the first-ever UK commission by Nigerian-American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola, a site-specific installation for The Curve. An epic cycle of new work unfurls across the 90-metre long gallery, exploring an imagined ancient myth conceived by the artist. Renowned conceptual sound artist Peter Adjaye has created an immersive soundscape in response to Odutola’s series, which evolves in dialogue with the narrative.

Working exclusively with drawing materials, including pencil, pastel, ballpoint pen and charcoal, Ojih Odutola’s works often take the form of monumental portraits, which retain a remarkable intimacy despite their scale. Ojih Odutola proposes speculative fictions through her practice, inviting the viewer to enter her vision of an uncannily familiar, yet fantastical world. Working akin to an author or poet, she often spends months creating extensive imaginary narratives, which play out through a series of works to suggest a structure of episodes or chapters. Drawing on an eclectic range of references, from ancient history to popular culture to contemporary politics, Ojih Odutola encourages the viewer to piece together the fragments of the stories that she presents.

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography
Until Sun17 May 2020, Barbican Art Gallery
Part of
Inside Out

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography is a major group exhibition that explores the ways in which masculinity is experienced, performed, coded and socially constructed as expressed and documented through photography and film from the 1960s to the present day. The exhibition brings together over 300 works by over 50 pioneering international artists, photographers and filmmakers such as Laurie Anderson, Richard Avedon, Rineke Dijkstra, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Peter Hujar, Isaac Julien, Annette Messager, and Catherine Opie alongside a lesser-known and younger generation of artists including Cassils, Sam Contis, George Dureau, Karen Knorr, Elle Pèrez, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Hank Willis Thomas, Karlheinz Weinberger and Marianne Wex among others.

With ideas around masculinity undergoing a global crisis and terms such as ‘toxic’ and ‘fragile’ masculinity filling endless column inches, the exhibition will chart the representation of masculinity in all its myriad forms, rife with contradiction and complexity. Touching on themes of patriarchy, power, queer identity, race, sexuality, class, female perceptions of men, heteronormative stereotypes, and fatherhood, the works in the exhibition present masculinity as a largely unfixed performative identity shaped by cultural, political and social forces, with photography and film central to the way in which masculinity is shaped and understood.

Accompanying events for the exhibition in April include:

An Uncomfortable Relationship with Masculinity: Scottee & Friends
Wed 8 Apr 2020, Barbican Art Gallery, 7pm

Scottee & Friends present a night of performance, rants and overpriced beer from queers, femmes and drags who have an uncomfortable relationship with men, maleness and masculinity.

Masculinities Exhibition Tour with Tim Clark
Thu 9 Apr 2020, Barbican Art Gallery, 7pm

Writer and Founder of 1000 Words Magazine, Tim Clark leads a guided tour of Masculinities: Liberation through Photography.

Masculinities Exhibition Tour with Edwin Coomasaru
Thu 23 Apr 2020, Barbican Art Gallery, 7pm

Dr Edwin Coomasaru, writer and Associate Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art, leads a guided tour of Masculinities: Liberation through Photography.

Masculinities Exhibition Tour with Chris Bayley
Thu 30 Apr 2020, Barbican Art Gallery, 7pm

Barbican curator Chris Bayley leads a guided tour of the exhibition Masculinities: Liberation through Photography.

Architecture on Stage

Carla Juaçaba
Mon 6 Apr 2020, Frobisher Auditorium 1, 7pm

In Conversation: Anthony Hunt and Maria Smith,
Mon 20 April 2020, Frobisher Auditorium 1, 7pm

The Architecture Foundation and the Barbican in partnership present Architecture on Stage – a programme of talks by the world's leading architects. In April, Brazillian architect Carla Juaçaba, who’s office has been responsible for a series of ambitious cultural projects including the ephemeral Pavilion Humanidade 2012 for Rio+20 and a Vatican Chapel for the Holy See Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, discusses her practice. Also this month, Engineer Anthony Hunt, founder of Anthony Hunt Associates and key figure in the development of High-Tech architecture, will reflect on his life and career with Maria Smith, founder of the architecture and engineering firm Interrobang.

THEATRE AND DANCE

Breach – It’s True, It’s True, It’s True
Tue 31 Mar–Thu 9 Apr 2020, The Pit
Press night: Tue 31 Mar 2020, 7.45pm

This gripping dramatisation of a 1612 rape trial brought by the gifted painter Artemisia Gentileschi roars down the ages, centuries after shocking Renaissance Rome.

When Agostino Tassi, the pope’s favourite artist, was accused of raping 15-year-old Gentileschi, the ensuing seven-month case was widely publicised. It’s True, It’s True, It’s True interweaves jaw-dropping court transcripts with history, myth, contemporary insight and moments of satire to ask: how much has really changed? Filled with ire and using modern language, the devised show shines a spotlight on a remarkable woman who went on to triumph through her art.

With three female actors interchanging roles on a set that at times suggests a courtroom, at others an artist’s studio, the story is driven by a soundtrack that contrasts punk and baroque music.

Schaubühne Berlin – Orlando
Thu 2–Sun 5 Apr 2020, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thu 2 Apr 2020, 7.45pm

As visionary today as it was when written in 1928, Virginia Woolf’s dazzling novel on gender fluidity is gleefully adapted, extending across centuries to the present day. As Orlando travels between historical periods, countries and lovers, glancing knowingly at the audience, their journey is caught on camera, mixed with pre-recorded footage and projected – all with a wardrobe team making quick-fire changes in plain sight.

Regular collaborators Katie Mitchell and Alice Birch explore Woolf’s material, interweaving life and art, reality and fiction, in an optimistic examination of how people, nature, systems and reigns are in a constant state of flux. Featuring a narrator, eight actors and crew synchronised to the second with adept precision, Orlando defies rigid categorisation in more ways than one.

Orlando is performed in German with English surtitles.

Internationaal Theater Amsterdam – Death in Venice
Thu 16–Sun 19 Apr 2020, Barbican Theatre

Press night: Thu 16 Apr 2020, 7.45pm
Part of
Inside Out

Ivo van Hove directs Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (ITA) in the UK premiere of a new theatrical adaptation of Death in Venice, which draws on the eponymous novella by Thomas Mann, and events in the German author’s own life.

An intense infatuation fuels the tension between social expectations and personal desire in this deft combination of theatre and music. Celebrated author Thomas Mann is in crisis. He is struggling with writer’s block and a forbidden attraction to a young boy. Secluded in his workshop, he creates a fictional counterpoint of himself: Von Aschenbach, the man he dares not be in the real world.

Death in Venice is adapted for the stage by former Dutch poet laureate and ITA ensemble actor Ramsey Nasr, who performs the role of Aschenbach. New music by American composer Nico Muhly features alongside Strauss and Schoenberg, performed live by Barbican Associate Ensemble Britten Sinfonia conducted by Ben Glassberg, and counter tenor Yuriy Mynenko.

Death in Venice is performed in Dutch with English surtitles.

Inua Ellams - Poetry + Film / Hack - Boyz n the Hood (15)
Thu 23 Apr 2020, The Pit, 7.45pm

Complementing this screening of Boyz n the Hood, Inua Ellams and a line-up of poets read new work to open and close the film – their words and verses responding to its blistering themes.

In his 1991 depiction of inner-city life in Los Angeles, director John Singleton navigated topics of masculinity, fatherhood, poverty, police harassment and addiction. This showing gathers incredible performers to share specially commissioned poems as meditations on characters and key moments from the seminal picture.

Joining Inua Ellams for this film hack are established poets who tour nationally and internationally, their collective experience ranging from storytelling and theatre to radio and television. They include the provocative and passionate voices of Barbican Young Poets alumni, with Michelle Tiwo co-curating the event.

manmaRo Project – The Bees’ Road
Thu 30 Apr–Sat 2 May 2020, The Pit
Press night: Thu 30 Apr 2020, 7.45pm

This one-man show eloquently moves between storytelling, ancient drama, irony and humour to bear witness to the journey of those who become stranded in their search for refuge across Europe.

An actor wants to share his experience, to save the world, but instead he must simply stand by and watch. As landscapes are crossed and cultures meet, even animals and a tree become involuntary observers of these traumatic tales of flight and displacement.

Director Ofira Henig and actor Khalifa Natour describe the troubling plight of refugees from a range of perspectives in this timely and affecting performance of words, song, poetry and movement.

The Bees’ Road is performed in Arabic with English surtitles.

CINEMA

Autism and Cinema: An Exploration of Neurodiversity
Thu 2–Wed 29 Apr 2020, Cinema 3
Part of
Inside Out

Barbican Cinema and Queen Mary University of London are pleased to present Autism and Cinema: An Exploration of Neurodiversity; a season that debates new ideas arising from the relationship between autism and cinema. This programme asks how the language of cinema can be challenged and changed by autistic perspectives.

The season opens with Temple Grandin (US 2010 Dir Mick Jackson), a biopic of the accomplished autistic thinker and advocate who transformed the cattle farming industry. The screening will be followed by an exclusive filmed interview with Temple Grandin, discussing the film and her experience of autism.

Further highlights include the documentary Life Animated (US 2016 Dir Roger Ross Williams) and David Lynch’s cult film Mulholland Drive (US 2001); and other rarely screened titles such as: Jigsaw (UK 2004 Dir Robina Rose), Scrapbook (Canada 2015 Dir Mike Hoolboom) and the UK premiere of the new 2K restoration of Le Moindre geste (France 1971, Dirs Jean-Pierre Daniel & Fernand Deligny) with English subtitles.

The season at Barbican and the UK tour of highlights is supported by Wellcome as part of Inside Out, a Barbican cross arts year-long season that explores the relationship between our inner lives and creativity. Autism through Cinema is a multi-disciplinary research project built around film archaeology and film practice, led by the Centre for Film and Ethics at Queen Mary University of London, as part of a research project supported by Wellcome.

Forbidden Colours/ Queer East Film Festival
Wed 22–Thu 30 Apr 2020, Cinema 2

Barbican Cinema presents three new South East Asian films about LGBTQ+ lives, including:  Memories of My Body (2018 Indonesia), an Indonesian dancer explores his identity when he joins a traditional Lengger dance company in Garin Nugroho’s stunning drama; Sisterhood (2016 Hong Kong/Macao) + ScreenTalk with director Tracy Choi, a woman returns to Macau and looks back at the intense relationship she had with a massage parlour colleague in Choi’s haunting melodrama; and Song Lang  (2018 Vietnam), film noir merges with romance in this visually stunning Vietnamese drama about the relationship between a gangster and a young, gay opera singer.

Elvis: That's The Way It Is
USA 1971, Dir Denis Sanders, 97 min
Sun 26 Apr 2020, Cinema 3, 2pm

To celebrate 85 years of Elvis Presley and 50 years since the film’s original 1970 release, the King returns to cinemas - remastered - with Elvis: That’s The Way It Is.

On July 31, 1969, in Las Vegas, Elvis Presley staged a triumphant return to the concert stage from which he had been absent for almost a decade. This feature-length documentary and concert film features performances including Love Me Tender, Blue Suede Shoes, Heartbreak Hotel and Suspicious Minds.