London unwrapped

‘London and the Invention of Concert Life', for London Unwrapped: Sounds of a Migrant City, year-long festival celebrating diversity in the capital’s musical past and present, held at Kings Place, London, in 2021

https://www.kingsplace.co.uk/digital/features/london-and-the-invention-of-concert-life

In November 2020 I was asked to provide one of two opening salvos introducing the Kings Place festival for 2021, ‘London Unwrapped’. My brief was to explain London’s historic rise as a world music capital, its appeal to musicians from all over the globe, and the key benefits those incomers brought with them or developed in the capital. The writer and broadcaster Kevin Le Gendre wrote a companion piece on Black music in Britain. We were interviewed by Tom Service for video broadcast on the KP website, as was Richard Boothby of Fretwork. Kevin and I were also interviewed by Tom for BBC Radio 3 'Music Matters' here.

Implicit in all our angles, celebrating the city’s musical vibrancy, was that London has always thrived on the contributions of immigrants and visitors, many of whom enriched, even galvanized, new music, musical practices, and the music industry inside Britain. In late 2020 as the nation prepared to detach itself fully from the European Union in January 2021, the Kings Place festival offered a timely reminder of what Brexit is now costing the UK in diminished attractiveness to these creative and industrious international musicians.

This series was the 13th ‘Unwrapped’ festival at Kings Place, its flagship programme since the venue opened in 2008. With another lockdown in January, in-person concerts took place only from late February 2021, starting with Aurora Orchestra’s performance of music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Thea Musgrave, Anna Meredith and Felix Mendelssohn. A host of further artists including London Bulgarian Choir, Nu Civilisation Orchestra, Ayanna-Witter Johnson, Southbank Sinfonia, Hermes Experiment, Iestyn Davies, the OAE, Fretwork with Orlando Gough and Gabriel Prokofiev, The Sixteen, and Cassie Kinoshi inspired listeners across the rest of the year.

‘Absolutely brilliant, Leanne ... I so much enjoyed this’

Helen Wallace, Artistic Director, Kings Place Music Foundation

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