Press room

Barbican December highlights

Heavy handed, we crush the moment
  • Barbican Art Gallery presents a new commission by Last Yearz Interesting Negro, the performance project of London-based artist and dancer Jamila Johnson-Small: Heavy handed, we crush the moment is an immersive experience, somewhere between a dreamscape, a meditation, a nightmare and a nightclub.
  • Oxford four-piece Ride’s upcoming This Is Not A Safe Place album UK tour will stop at the Barbican on 9 December 2019.
  • To the Moon and Back, an immersive experience for babies (from 3 months-old), young children (up to four years-old) and their grown-ups, comes to The Pit to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
  • Moonstruck, coming to Barbican Cinema, is an entrancing romantic comedy directed by Norman Jewison, featuring Cher at her most magical as a smart, sassy heroine – the role for which she won the Best Actress Oscar in 1988.

CINEMA

Moonstruck PG + intro by Adrian Wootton
Adrian Wootton’s Hollywood Legends
USA 1987, Dir Norman Jewison, 102 min
Wed 11 Dec 2019, Cinema 3, 8.35pm

This entrancing romantic comedy, directed by Norman Jewison, features Cher at her most magical, as a smart, sassy heroine – the role for which she won the Best Actress Oscar in 1988.

CuratorsPicks 2019
Fri 13–Thu 19 Dec 2019, Cinema 3

The Barbican Cinema Curators have each chosen a gem from 2019; giving audiences the opportunity to catch films they may missed or would like to revisit.

Highlights include: In Fabric (UK 2019 Dir Peter Strickland), Booksmart (US 2019, Dir Olivia Wilde), For Sama (UK/ Syria 2019, Dir Waad Al-Khateab, Edward Watts), Sauvage (France 2018, Dir Camille Vidal-Naquet), Happy as Lazzaro (Italy 2018, Dir Alice Rohrwacher) and Burning (South Korea 2018, Dir Lee Chang-dang).

Family Film Club Christmas Party in Association with BAFTA Kids (U*)
Sat 14 Dec 2019, Cinema 1, 11am

Hosted by Nigel Clarke, TV presenter for CBBC, Nickelodeon and Disney.

This is Barbican’s Family Film Club’s fun celebration for the festive season, in association with BAFTA Kids. The event includes onstage activity – inviting the audience to get involved – as well as short film content to get audiences into the Christmas spirit. And there’ll also be a special exclusive screening of BAFTA Kids preview (kept secret until the day).

MUSIC

Arcadi Volodos in recital
Fri 6 Dec 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Arcadi Volodos piano

Liszt Sonetto del Petrarca 123 in A-flat major; La lugubre Gondola; Légende No 1, S 175 No 1 St François d’Assise, La Prédication aux oiseaux; Ballade No 2 in B minor, S 171; Schumann Marsch from Bunte Blätter, Op 99; Abendmusik from Bunte Blätter, Op 99; Humoreske in B-flat major, Op 20

Pianist Arcadi Volodos, known for combining astounding virtuosity with insight and a remarkable palette of colours, returns to the Barbican following an extraordinary recital last season. He performs a programme of music by Liszt and Schumann.

Ride
+ Pêtr Aleksänder
Mon 9 Dec 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Oxford four-piece Ride’s upcoming This Is Not A Safe Place album UK tour will stop at the Barbican on 9 December 2019. The new album came out in August 2019 (Wichita Recordings) and is their sixth studio album.

One of the leading lights of the early 90’s shoegaze scene, Ride reformed in 2014, releasing their first album, Weather Diaries, in over 20 years in 2017 to great critical acclaim. For This Is Not A Safe Place the band gathered influences from sources such as the Basquiat: Boom for Real exhibition at the Barbican and the post punk sound of The Fall and Sonic Youth. The result is an album which contains echoes of their earliest days as a band, and which also embraces their new-found creativity and rejuvenated dynamic at the same time.

Ride are Andy Bell, Mark Gardener, Laurence Colbert, and Steve Queralt. Support comes from Eliot James’ and Tom Hobden’s band Pêtr Aleksänder. The duo create considered and controlled sounds by limiting instruments to piano and strings, but never at the expense of the raw, emotional impact that a simple yet incisive sound can deliver.

Produced by the Barbican in association with Eat Your Own Ears.

Angela Gheorghiu in recital
Tue 10 Dec 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Angela Gheorghiu soprano, Alexandra Dariescu piano

Music by Pergolesi, Rameau, Bellini, Tosti, Brediceanu and Chopin

Celebrated Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu returns to the Barbican for a recital with Romanian pianist Alexandra Dariescu in December. The evening features music by Pergolesi, Rameau, Bellini, Tosti, Brediceanu and Chopin, designed to showcase the different dimensions of Gheorghiu’s extraordinary voice.

A Baroque Odyssey: 40 years of Les Arts Florissants
Sun 8 Dec 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Les Arts Florissants, William Christie director, Paul Agnew director, Sandrine Piau soprano, Lea Desandre mezzo-soprano, Christophe Dumaux countertenor, Marcel Beeckman tenor, Marc Mauillon baritone, Lisandro Abadie bass

Music by Handel, Purcell, Charpentier, Lully and Rameau

Les Arts Florissants, one of the most renowned and respected early music groups in the world, celebrates its 40th anniversary with a special Barbican concert. With music by Handel, Purcell, Charpentier, Lully and Rameau, director William Christie will direct the ensemble as they go on a journey to revisit some of the most exciting, entertaining and vibrant music that helped them cement a reputation as Baroque pioneers over their four decades. 

Freiburg Baroque Orchestra: Handel’s Messiah
Wed 11 Dec 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, Trevor Pinnock director, Katherine Watson soprano, Claudia Huckle alto, James Way tenor, Ashey Riches bass, Zürcher Sing-Akademie

Handel Messiah

Two of the most distinguished names in Baroque music, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and harpsichordist Trevor Pinnock come to the Barbican for a traditional pre-Christmas performance of Handel’s Messiah.

London Symphony Orchestra Highlights

December will see four performances by the LSO, starting with the continuation of LSO Principal Guest Conductor Gianandrea Noseda’s Shostakovich symphony cycle with Symphony No 7, ‘Leningrad’, on Thursday 5 December. This monumental WWII work will be preceded by Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1, with soloist Khatia Buniatishvili, taking us back to an earlier chapter of Russian history.

On Thursday 12 December, Guest Conductor Sir Antonio Pappano will take to the stage for an all-British programme of Tippett’s virtuosic Concerto for Double String Orchestra, Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No 4, and Elgar’s Sea Pictures featuring mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly – a song cycle based on poems evoking fear and fascination with the sea. Guildhall Artistry musicians will also give a free pre-concert recital.

Guiding us into the festive season on Sunday 15 December will be Choral Director Simon Halsey, the LSO Brass Ensemble and a 300-strong choir of singers for the annual carol-singing festivity.

Concluding 2019’s programme will be LSO Principal Guest Conductor François-Xavier Roth on Thursday 19 December. The world premiere of LSO Panufnik Composer Sophya Polevaya’s Spellbound Tableaux will open the concert; Alisa Weilerstein will perform Elgar’s beloved Cello Concerto; and Bartók’s daring and energetic pantomime ballet score – The Miraculous Mandarin – will end the concert.

BBC Symphony Orchestra Highlights

‘All my music has to do with pictures,’ says Germany’s most-performed living composer, Detlev Glanert, who is the focus of the second in the BBC SO’s Total Immersion series for the 19/20 season. At the heart of this immersive day of talks, films and music will be the UK premiere of his dazzling Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch, featuring an array of world-class soloists alongside the BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus and the BBC Singers under conductor Semyon Bychkov.

Throughout the day, audiences get the rare opportunity to get up-close with the life and work of Glanert. The day begins with David Ickerstaff’s screen portrait of Hieronymus Bosch to provide the context for Glanert’s Requiem inspired by the artist – a man who, like Glanert could only generate epic structures by focusing on the tiniest of details. A concert featuring chamber music of Glanert and his teacher Hans Werner Henze that follows will set the scene for a Q+A with the composer himself before the main event begins in the Barbican Hall at 7.30pm.

THEATRE

Royal Shakespeare Company – As You Like It
Sat 26 Oct 2019–Sat 18 Jan 2020, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Tue 29 Oct 2019, 7pm

All the world really is a stage in Kimberley Sykes’ playful and imaginative take on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy.

Rosalind is banished, and with her best friend Celia by her side, she journeys to a world of exile. But not before catching the eye of love-struck Orlando, who is also forced from the Court into the Forest.

Blending physical comedy, music and storytelling, this As You Like It dares you to change your state of mind.

Royal Shakespeare Company – The Taming of the Shrew
Tue 5 Nov 2019–Sat 18 Jan 2020, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thu 7 Nov 2019, 7pm

The ultimate battle of the sexes is turned on its head in Justin Audibert’s The Taming of the Shrew as the 1590s are reimagined – with women in charge.

In this radical take on Shakespeare's fierce and energetic comedy of gender, Baptista Minola is seeking to marry off her two sons, the sweet-tempered Bianco and the rebellious Katherine. Cue an explosive courtship and a keenly witty portrayal of hierarchy and power.

Royal Shakespeare Company – Measure for Measure
Tue 12 Nov 2019–Thu 16 Jan 2020, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thu 14 Nov 2019, 7pm

When a young novice nun is compromised by a corrupt official who offers to save her brother from execution in return for sex, she has no idea where to turn for help. When she threatens to expose him, he tells her that no one would believe her.

RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran (The Tempest, 2017; Imperium I: Conspirator and Imperium II: Dictator, 2018) directs this new production of Measure for Measure, which was written in the early 1600s but feels even more urgent today.

M-SET To the Moon and Back
Fri 13–Sat 21 Dec 2019, The Pit
Press performances: Fri 13 Dec 2019, 10am, 11.30am, 1.30pm or 3pm

To the Moon and Back is an immersive experience for babies (from 3 months-old), young children (up to four years-old) and their grown-ups, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

With a simple knock on a front door, audiences travel on a multisensory journey of discovery, exploring tactile, interactive spaces filled with sounds, special effects and colourful props made from unusual materials. Conjuring the natural world, from rain made of feathers to stars made from velvet, ideas will be revealed so that everyday objects can be turned into tools for creativity and fun at home after the show.

Artistic Director and founder of company M-SET, Paula Manning invents delightful installations, combining stimulating live music, drama, visual arts and design. All sessions of To the Moon and Back are relaxed.

To the Moon and Back is part of the Barbican’s 2019 season, Life Rewired, which explores what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.

VISUAL ARTS

Trevor Paglen: From ‘Apple’ to ‘Anomaly’
Until Sun 16 Feb 2020, The Curve
Free admission
Part of
Life Rewired

Barbican Art Gallery has commissioned the artist Trevor Paglen to create a new work for The Curve. Paglen takes as his starting point the way in which Artificial Intelligence networks are taught how to ‘see’, ‘hear’ and ‘perceive’ the world by engineers who feed them vast training sets. Standard training sets consist of images, video and sound libraries that depict objects, faces, facial expressions, gestures, actions, speech commands, eye movements and more. Paglen highlights how the advent of autonomous computer vision and AI has developed alongside this new kind of media, not designed for humans, but for machines, which are rife with hidden politics, biases, stereotypes and epistemological assumptions.

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art
Until Sun 19 Jan 2020, Barbican Art Gallery

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art explores the social and artistic role of cabarets, cafés and clubs around the world. Spanning the 1880s to the 1960s, the exhibition presents a dynamic and multi-faceted history of artistic production. The first major show staged on this theme, Into the Night features both famed and little-known sites of the avant-garde – offering an alternative history of modern art that highlights the spirit of experimentation and collaboration between artists, performers, designers, musicians and writers such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Loïe Fuller, Josef Hoffmann, Giacomo Balla, Theo van Doesburg, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, as well as Josephine Baker, Jeanne Mammen, Aaron Douglas, Ramón Alva de la Canal and Ibrahim El-Salahi.

Accompanying events in December include:

BSL tour of Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art
Mon 2 Dec 2019, Barbican Art Gallery, 6.30–8.30pm

John Wilson leads a British Sign Language tour exclusively for Deaf and hard of hearing visitors highlighting key artworks on display. The ticket includes free admission for a companion if required and will be interpreted for non-BSL users by Anna Kitson.

Into the Night: Family Day
Sun 8 Dec 2019, Barbican Centre, 11am–4pm

A day of free activities inspired by Into the Night, including mask-making, shadow puppets and poetry writing, plus movement and sound workshops.

The Mbari Clubs and Nigerian Modernism Into the Night tour
Wed 11 Dec 2019, Barbican Art Gallery, 7pm 

Associate Curator Lotte Johnson leads a tour of the exhibition focusing on the seminal Mbari Clubs in Ibadan and Osogbo.

Heavy handed, we crush the moment
Thu 28 Nov–Sun 1 Dec 2019, The Pit

Barbican Art Gallery presents a new commission by Last Yearz Interesting Negro, the performance project of London-based artist and dancer Jamila Johnson-Small

Dance, darkness and bass frequencies – Heavy handed, we crush the moment is an immersive experience, somewhere between a dreamscape, a meditation, a nightmare and a nightclub. Over four evenings, Last Yearz Interesting Negro presents a series of genre-blurring happenings. Focusing on the sensory impact of the live encounter for performers and audience alike, Heavy handed, we crush the moment is an invitation to reflect on boundaries, intimacy, spectacle and the inevitability of movement. Last Yearz Interesting Negro and collaborators create a charged atmosphere through sound, light, set and live performance.

This commission is a contemporary response to the Barbican exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art.

Architecture on Stage

Afterparti*: For the Love of Power
Mon 2 Dec 2019, Frobisher Auditorium 1, 7pm

Serie Architects
Thu 5 Dec 2019, Frobisher Auditorium 1, 7pm

Bovenbouw Architects
Thu 12 Dec 2019, 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 December, collective Afterparti* – who met through the New Architecture Writers programme for young BAME design critics – explore how ideas and power manipulate architecture, Christopher Lee speaks about the recent work of his practice Serie Architects and Dirk Somers of Belgian practice Bovenbouw Architects discusses the firm’s recent projects.