Press room

Barbican February highlights

The artwork for Barbican OpenFest: Art 50. It's the letters O, P, E, N with marble effect on a black background
  • Barbican OpenFest: Art 50, a free day of art, film, music and performance, explores what it means to be British today through the works of artists from around the UK.
  • Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre comes to the Barbican Theatre and The Pit, with performances of The Cherry Orchard, The Good Person of Szechwan and Mother’s Field.
  • British Baritone Roderick Williams’ Milton Court residency continues in February 2019 with the singer performing two concerts.
  • Two of the world’s most innovative beat-makers and pioneers in their respective arts, afrobeat drummer Tony Allen and techno producer and composer Jeff Mills perform in the Barbican Hall.
  • Barbican Art Gallery presents London-based artist and filmmaker Daria Martin’s first solo commission for a major London public gallery in The Curve.
  • Robocop screens in the Barbican Cinema, followed by a presentation from Will Jackson on whether technology is to blame for its misuse.


Barbican OpenFest: Art 50
Sat 23 Feb

Explore what it means to be British today through the works of artists from around the UK with this day of art, film, music and performance.

Free and open to all, the day will showcase works from Sky Arts’ Art 50 which invited artists of all kinds, from all walks of life, from all artistic genres, to create a piece of work which says something important about national identity in 2019. Come celebrate the diversity and creativity of a nation through dance, music, photography and film.
Highlights of the day will be new work from contemporary dance group Boy Blue; Ivor Novello award winner Nitin Sawhney with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain; award-winning poet Lemn Sissay; and writers including Paul McVeighDreda Say MitchellA.L. Kennedy and Tony Mason.


Robocop (18) + presentation by Will Jackson
Science on Screen
US, 1987, dir Paul Verhoeven, 102 mins
Tue 5 Feb, 6.10pm, Cinema 2
Part of
Life Rewired

This cult classic follows a terminally-wounded cop who returns to the force as a cyborg in a dystopian, crime-ridden Detroit. Will Jackson muses on whether technology is to blame for its misuse.

My Twisted Valentine: Der Fan (18)
West Germany, 1982, dir Eckhart Schmidt, 92 mins
Thu 14 Feb, 8.45pm, Cinema 3

As an antidote to the usual Valentine’s Day fare, Barbican Cinema screens this rare cult German film about teenage obsession.

Curated by Cigarette Burns Cinema.

Oscar® Week
Fri 22–Thu 28 Feb, Cinema 2 & 3

Barbican Cinema rolls out the red carpet for a week of the must-see films of the awards season, and screens all ten titles nominated for Best Film at the 2019 Academy Awards; plus all the Best Foreign Language Film nominees.

Presented in Partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

He Who Gets Slapped (12A*) + live music by Taz Modi and cellist Fraser Bowles
Silent Films & Live Music
US, 1924, dir Victor Sjöström, 80 mins
Sun 3 Feb, 4pm, Cinema 1

One of the most eccentric films of the silent era (starring Lon Chaney and Norma Shearer) He Who Gets Slapped is the story of a scientist whose happiness is destroyed by a friend who steals not only his wife, but also his life’s research. The scientist turns bitter and, in desperation, joins a circus as a clown whose popular act is based on being repeatedly slapped.

Part of London International Mime Festival.


Casals Quartet: The Seven Last Words of Christ
Fri 1 Feb, Milton Court, 7.30pm
Tickets £15-35 plus booking fee

Casals Quartet and Tamara Stefanovich: Hungariana
Sun 3 Feb, Milton Court, 11am, 3pm, & 7.30pm
Tickets £15-30 plus booking fee per concert

Acclaimed Spanish ensemble, the Casals Quartet will appear in two Milton Court dates in February. The first concert on 1 Feb 2019 sees the quartet perform Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ – the composer’s powerful musical meditations on suffering, loss and redemption, featuring poetry and readings interwoven with the music. On 3 February, the second appearance by the Casals Quartet is an entire day curated by creative director Gerard McBurney. The day is entitled Hungariana and features readings, visuals and music in three concerts, exploring the music of the towering trio of Hungarian composers Bartók, Ligeti and Kurtág whose utterly individual sounds helped define modern music. Hungariana will also feature pianist Tamara Stefanovich, and visuals designed by Amelia Kosminsky from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s BA Video Design for Live Performance degree programme.

Irreversible Entanglements
Sat 2 Feb, Milton Court, 7.30pm
Tickets £10-20 plus booking fee

Self-described as a ‘liberation-minded free jazz collective’, Irreversible Entanglements will bring their powerful mix of free jazz and expressive poetry to the Barbican’s music programme for the first time in February 2019. The quintet features poet Camae Ayewa aka Moor Mother (voice), Keir Neuringer (sax), Aquiles Navarro (trumpet), Luke Stewart (bass) and Tcheser Holmes (drums).

Le Trio Joubran
Sun 3 Feb, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Tickets £20-40 plus booking fee

Award-winning Palestinian oud masters Le Trio Joubran, comprising brothers Samir, Wissam, and Adnan Joubran return to the Barbican in February 2019 following their appearance at the Centre in May 2015. Here they will present new material from their upcoming sixth album The Long March (out on Cooking Vinyl on 12 Oct 2018). The new record features collaborations from poet Mahmoud Darwish and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters. 

Produced by the Barbican in association with Marsm.

Benjamin Grosvenor plays Chopin with Doric Quartet
Mon 11 Feb, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Tickets £15-30 plus booking fee

Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor will appear in two concerts with the Doric Quartet (as well as in recital) in this Barbican Presents season. The two chamber music programmes are built around Chopin’s two piano concertos in the scaled-down chamber versions for piano and a quintet of string players, as used by Chopin for the Parisian salon performances of his time. The programme in this first concert on 11 February includes Chopin’s First Piano Concerto, Schubert’s Quartettsatz and Fauré’s Piano Quintet No 1 in D minor.

Joshua Redman: Still Dreaming
Mon 18 Feb, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Ticket £15-35 plus booking fee

Revered saxophonist Joshua Redman presents material from his latest album Still Dreaming (Nonesuch) with an ensemble featuring trumpeter Ron Miles, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade – three of the most imaginative voices in contemporary jazz today.  The recording evokes memories of the landmark group Old and New Dreams that featured Joshua Redman’s father Dewey Redman back in the 1970s and 80s. With a repertoire that combines freshly minted originals alongside music from the Old and New Dreams legacy, Still Dreaming explores Joshua Redman’s heritage, adding a new perspective to a continuum of jazz history, and summoning up the spirits of his father, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and of course, Ornette Coleman himself.

Produced by the Barbican in association with Serious.

Roderick Williams: An Italian Songbook
Tue 19 Feb, Milton Court, 7.30pm
Tickets £15-30 plus booking fee

Roderick Williams in recital
Tue 26 Feb, Milton Court, 7.30pm
Tickets £15-30 plus booking fee

British Baritone Roderick Williams is the third Milton Court Artist-in-Residence, presenting three concerts across the 2018/19 season, which celebrate him as composer, collaborator and performing artist. This residency continues in February 2019 with the singer performing two concerts. The first one on 19 Feb 2019 features Hugo Wolf’s An Italian Songbook in a new, dramatized English version created and directed by Jeremy Sams and Christopher Glynn. In the final performance in this series on 26 February Roderick Williams performs together with pianist Andrew West. The programme of songs includes the world premiere of a newly Barbican commissioned song cycle by Ryan Wigglesworth, and also features Brahms’s An die Nachtigall; Clara Schumann’s Liebst du um Schönheit; Brahms’s Das Mädchen spricht, Howells’s King David, Sally Beamish’s Four Songs from Hafez, Robert Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben.

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra: Mahler 9
Wed 20 Feb, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Tickets £25-80 plus booking fee

The Barbican is London’s home of great international orchestras, and here audiences get the chance to hear Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, the composer’s great farewell to life, performed by the mighty Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Ádám Fischer who has worked with the orchestra for nearly five decades.

Tony Allen & Jeff Mills
Thu 21 Feb, Barbican Hall, 8pm
Tickets £20-30 plus booking fee

Two of the world’s most innovative beat-makers and pioneers in their respective arts, afrobeat drummer Tony Allen and techno producer and composer Jeff Mills, will bring the fruits of their exciting new collaboration and rhythmic conversation to the Barbican in this special concert date in February 2019. 

Both artists have been working together since December 2016, fusing past and future into an intense, seamless present where digital and analogue, jazz and electro, Africa and America, the source and the delta, become one. The resulting four-track EP entitled Tomorrow Comes The Harvest was released by Blue Note on 28 September 2018.  

BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction Festival in partnership with the Barbican:
Late Junction Festival Day One: Gazelle Twin + Hen Ogledd + CHAINES
Late Junction Festival Day Two: This Is Not This Heat + CURL + O Yama O  
Thu 28 Feb and Fri 1 Mar, EartH, 7.30pm
Tickets £22.50 plus booking fee for each date

BBC Radio 3’s flagship adventurous music programme, Late Junction, in partnership with the Barbican, is set to stage its first ever festival taking place at London’s newest venue EartH across two days of live music (28 Feb and 1 Mar 2019), showcasing the breadth of the programme’s ear-expanding output and featuring some of the Barbican’s contemporary music programme’s previous contributors.  The Festival will bring the radio programme to life with performances from across the sonic spectrum and will also feature exciting live versions of the programme’s monthly Collaboration Session, with artists from different bands forming ad-hoc ensembles plus a live Late Junction Mixtape for the gathered audience.

Also appearing at the Barbican in February is Low on 1 Feb presenting material from their 12th studio album Double Negative in the Barbican Hall. Pianist Evgeny Kissin returns to the Barbican for a recital on 6 February. Kissin has come a long way since his historic teenage debut in the 1980s, and is now a master-pianist at the peak of his maturity and prowess. The Barbican Hall will see another return with celebrated American violinist Joshua Bell following a hugely successful performance in summer 2017. Joshua Bell will be accompanied by pianist Sam Haywood.  The recital on 27 February will feature violin sonatas by Beethoven, Prokofiev, and Grieg.

LSO highlights

Sir John Eliot Gardiner continues to shine fresh light upon Schumann’s orchestral works with two concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra on 7 & 10 February, performing his 1st and 3rd Symphonies as well as Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with soloist Isabelle Faust, and Weber’s Euryanthe Overture. On 17 February Sir Simon Rattle conducts a fascinating programme of French music from the 18th Century to the 21st, featuring suites from Rameau’s Les Indes galantes, Poulenc’s Les biches as well as A Little Summer Suite by Betsy Jolas. This is the first concert in an LSO Artist Portrait series featuring pianist Daniil Trifonov, soloist in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. A complementary all-French programme is performed on 22 February in the BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert series at LSO St Luke’s, with Adam Walker, LSO Principal Flute, with pianist Alasdair Beatson performing music by Widor, Milhaud, Messiaen and Boulez. On 28 February the LSO is conducted by Lahav Shani, making his debut with the Orchestra with Stravinsky’s Petrushka, Weill’s Symphony No 2 and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninov with the Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski as soloist.


Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre – The Cherry Orchard
Tue 5 & Wed 6 Feb, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Tue 5 Feb, 7pm

Russian screen and stage star, Victoria Isakova, plays Lyubov Ranevskaya in Vladimir Mirzoev's enigmatic, soulful production of Chekhov’s prophetic masterpiece, The Cherry Orchard.

The epitome of measured elegance, Ranevskaya returns to her estate when she learns her beloved orchard is to be sold off to repay debts. Beautiful, romantic, sensual and irresponsible, Ranevskaya is haunted by the ghost of her drowned son, Misha, who is given a physical presence on stage. He haunts the drama as the impending sale and destruction of the cherry orchard become inevitable. The Cherry Orchard embodies the spirit of Russia at the turn of the 20th century and Vladimir Mirzoev's ghostly, contemporary version conveys societal collapse recognisable in more recent events.

The Cherry Orchard is performed in Russian with English surtitles.

Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre – The Good Person of Szechwan
Fri 8 & Sat 9 Feb, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Fri 8 Feb, 7pm 

Yury Butusov directs a bold, vigorous production of Brecht’s parable, The Good Person of Szechwan. The gods come to Earth in search of a good person and find Shen Te, a sex worker, who puts them up for the night. The gods reward her good deed, enabling her to buy a tobacco shop and try to turn her life around. But being good and poor is not easy and soon various freeloaders take advantage of her generosity leading Shen Te to invent a non-existent cousin, Shui Ta, who is ruthless and pragmatic enough to thwart everyone’s exploitative schemes. Alexandra Ursulyak gives a bold, compelling performance of the opposing cousins.

The Good Person of Szechwan is performed in Russian and German, with English surtitles.

Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre – Mother’s Field
Sat 9 Feb, 2.30pm & 7.45pm, The Pit
Press performances: Sat 9 Feb, 2.30pm & 7.45pm

Mother’s Field is based on an enduring story by Soviet-Kyrgyz writer, Chinghiz Aitmatov. Revered as a giant of 20th century Russian literature, Aitmatov published his story eighteen years after the Second World War, ushering in mythical folklorish elements to his realistic fiction.

Tolgani, a strong Kyrgyz woman, has a special connection with Mother Earth, a companion in whom she confides and seeks commiseration. Granted a healthy family, her bounty is lost to misfortune when war intervenes. Back in her beloved fields, her heart is torn apart by grief.

Striking physicality and gesture convey the narrative in this potent performance without words – a brave plea for peace and humanity directed and choreographed by Sergei Zemlyansky. Mother's Field explores timeless themes of family relationships, nationhood, war and survival.

Charles Atlas/Rashaun Mitchell/Silas Riener – Tesseract
Thu 28 Feb–Sat 2 Mar, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thu 28 Feb, 7.45pm
Part of
Life Rewired

Tesseract is an ambitious work by choreographic duo Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener together with pioneering video artist Charles Atlas. Inspired by science fiction and time travel, and experimental in form and technique, it is rich in psychedelic, potent, disorientating and hypnotic images.

To open the show, an astonishing 3D film with vividly contrasting chapters in which movement and setting fuse seamlessly. Space is transformed in imagined and hybrid worlds through manipulating the size and shape of the dancers’ bodies and the audience’s proximity to them.

For the second part, a live performance is captured by multiple cameras onstage; the footage mixed and projected onto a translucent screen, offering various perspectives of the crisp, intricate and innovative choreography.


Daria Martin: Tonight the World
Thu 31 Jan–Sun 7 Apr, The Curve
Media View: Wed 30 Jan, 10am–1pm
Part of
Life Rewired

Barbican Art Gallery presents London-based artist and filmmaker Daria Martin’s first solo commission for a major London public gallery. Combining film and computer gaming technology, Martin creates an atmospheric environment, in which visitors can explore the vivid memories of artist Susi Stiassni, Martin’s grandmother, who fled from the Holocaust. Martin draws on an extensive archive of her grandmother’s dream diaries amounting to over 10,000 pages. These forensically recorded accounts were created over a 35 year period, initially for the purposes of psychoanalysis. Martin envisages that the installation will become simultaneously a portrait of her ancestor, a self-portrait and an exploration of intergenerational trauma, migration, loss, and resilience.

For information and images please visit:

Architecture on Stage
David Kohn, Mon 4 Feb, 7pm, Frobisher Auditorium 1
Christ and Gantenbein, Thu 14 Feb, 7pm, Barbican Theatre
Hans van der Heijden, Mon 25 Feb, 7pm, Frobisher Auditorium 1

The Architecture Foundation and the Barbican in partnership, present Architecture on Stage – a programme of talks by the world's leading architects. In February David Kohn, founder of David Kohn Architects (DKA), discusses working internationally on arts, education and residential projects. Swiss architect duo Christ and Gantenbein present their Basel-based practice, Christ & Gantenbein and Dutch architect and urbanist Hans van der Heijden speaks about his recent projects and their engagement with the city and its streets.


Part of
Life Rewired

Unclaimed is a Barbican-commissioned project blending academic research and public engagement, investigating what it means to grow old in today’s society.

Led by creative public engagement specialists The Liminal Space, the project began in spring 2018 with a series of interviews with 2,000 people aged over 75 from Camden, conducted by University College London’s gerontology research team. The interviews uncovered a range of narratives.

The interviews have been used to feed into an installation which opens on the Barbican’s Level G in February 2019.

Life Rewired Hub
Part of
Life Rewired

Motivated by the need to develop and test new models of public engagement, the Barbican is constructing a temporary new venue for public programming on Level G. The Life Rewired Hub will explore the key ideas in our 2019 programme, inviting audiences to encounter the voices who are witnessing and revealing some of the elusive forces shaping our lives today.

Architects Dyvik Kahlen will design the flexible new space, which will be a platform for a year-long programme of talks, workshops, research, and residencies. These events will stem from the themes in the Life Rewired season, and a significant strand of activity co-programmed in partnership with the Royal Society and the British Council.

The Life Rewired Hub will also house an exhibition which presents curated content from the complex, vast, and all-too-often confusing discourse taking place around the impact of technology on our lives. This will feature newly-commissioned contributions from writers and thinkers including Jaron Lanier and James Bridle.

Troika – Borrowed Light
Until May 2019
Part of
Life Rewired

Borrowed Light is a suspended mechanised structure that moves a 20m-long scroll of photographic film, thereby resembling an artificial infinite loop of sunset and sunrise. The installation was formally inspired by moving panoramas and the potential these offered to blur the boundaries between experience and physical spheres, natural and man-made spaces.

Borrowed Light is a site-specific installation commissioned by the Barbican Art Gallery to activate the unique architectural features of the Lightwell at the centre of the Barbican’s public spaces.


Brutal Shapes: Vase Casting Workshops with Phil Cuttance
Sat 9 Feb, 10.30am–12.30pm
Sun 10 Feb, 10.30am–12.30pm
Sat 23 Feb, 10.30am–12.30pm (Members event with refreshments)
Sun 24 Feb, 10.30am–12.30pm
Barbican Shop

Participants will learn how to cast a Brutalist inspired bud vase from Jesmonite Stone with designer/maker Phil Cuttance. They will choose from six different vase shapes, assemble their mould and then mix and cast their own vase in a unique colour scheme with marbled effects.

Once cast, vases will be taken back to Phil's studio where they take 24 hours to set, and can then be sent back to participants or collected from the Barbican Shop.

Brutal Impressions: Lino Printing Workshop with Jamie Temple
Sat 16 Feb, 10.30am–2.30pm
Sun 17 Feb, 10.30am–2.30pm
Barbican Shop

Jamie Temple is an artist and printmaker living and working between London and Glasgow, drawing inspiration from a lifelong fascination with the built and natural environments we inhabit. In these workshops he will demonstrate the art of lino printing, and how to create designs inspired by the forms and textures of Brutalist architecture.

Participants will gain an insight into the linocut printmaking process; from sketching out an idea and transferring designs onto the block of lino, to working with a variety of carving tools, inks and methods of printing on paper, and will create their own unique edition of handmade prints to take home. Jamie will also showcase a selection of his own Brutalist inspired prints and will be on hand throughout to offer individual help and guidance.


Barbican acts and exhibitions touring to other venues across the world include:

John Akomfrah: Purple
Museu Colecao Berrado, Lisbon
Until Sun 10 Mar 2019

The World of Charles and Ray Eames
Oakland Museum of California
Until Sun 17 Feb 2019