Southbank Centre announces 2019 spring season line-up

Southbank Centre is proud to present a spring line-up of contemporary music and gigs that truly reflects its commitment to expand genre boundaries, showcase the best new sounds from across the globe and offer a world-class gigging experience with unique, not-to-be-missed events across its three iconic music venues.

From January – May 2019, the Royal Festival Hall is home to world and UK premieres including: James Lavelle’s UNKLE with the first ever live performance of their new album, The Road: Part One (RFH, 19 Apr); the world-premiere and launch of Ministry of Sound’s first ever fully produced classical music show and documentary The Annual Classical (RFH, 16 Jan); world-renowned singer and oud player Dhafer Youssef with the UK premiere of his new album Sounds of Mirrors (RFH, 19 Mar); and Balkan great, Goran Bregović with the UK premiere of his latest, Three Letters from Sarajevo (RFH, 1 Mar).

A highlight of 2019’s contemporary music programme is the launch of Purcell Sessions: Erased Tapes X LCO – a year-long collaboration with globally-respected, London-based independent record label Erased Tapes, and one of the UK’s most innovative ensembles and winner of the RPS ‘best ensemble’ award, the London Contemporary Orchestra (LCO).

The partnership brings handpicked Erased Tapes artists to Southbank Centre’s most intimate venue, the Purcell Room, for four exclusive dates throughout the year. In free, open workshops, audiences will see some of the top contemporary classical musicians and composers working together to test and develop new techniques and palettes of sound. These, along with pieces that have inspired the workshops, will be performed that evening, providing audiences with a unique insight into the creative process.

Bengi Ünsal, Senior Contemporary Music Programmer at Southbank Centre, says:

“From hosting the First London Concert of Electronic Music by British Composers in 1968, to the first and only full live performance of Mike Oldfield’s seminal Tubular Bells in 1973, and the world premiere of Tyondai Braxton’s TELEKINESIS as part of the Queen Elizabeth Hall reopening in April 2018, Southbank Centre has always been a place for breaking musical moulds.

“I’m incredibly excited to bring this partnership together. With Erased Tapes’ expertise in global avant-garde music, and the innovation and versatility of LCO, who have worked with everyone from Radiohead to Goldfrapp, the programme will focus on developing the next generation of players, conductors and composers, and promote new music to an increasingly wide audience. What comes from these meetings of minds will be a discovery for everyone.”

The artists involved in Purcell Sessions are: Brooklyn-based composer and drummer (Dawn of Midi) Qasim Naqvi who creates original music for film, dance, theatre and international chamber ensembles (PUR, 12 Feb); internationally recognised film and TV composer, producer, arranger, music editor and Emmy Award-winner Michael Price, who has worked on a wide range of scores from Sherlock to the Lord of the Rings trilogy (PUR, 18 May); London-based producer Ryan Lee West, better known as Rival Consoles, an electronic music producer known for making synthesisers sound human (PUR, 29 Sep); and the self-taught and versatile Japanese vocal performer Hatis Noit, who deconstructs and recombines Western Classical and Japanese folk with ambient dance (PUR, 6 Dec).

View of The National Theatre from Waterloo Bridge taken shortly after the sunset of a beautiful day of October.


Headliners and premieres

Southbank Centre welcomes James Lavelle’s UNKLE for the first live performance of their latest album The Road: Part One, and world premiere of their new audiovisual show. Having wowed across the world with their breathtaking live performances, the re-configured band return to the Royal Festival Hall giving fans the first opportunity to hear brand new material live, alongside classic tracks, specially created reworks and a line up of very special guests (RFH, 18 April). Lavelle, who curated the 2014 edition of Southbank Centre’s Meltdown festival will also be programming a special edition of Concrete Lates, the arts centre’s new monthly club night programme, and surprise one-off events. More details to be announced.

French multi-instrumentalist Yann Tiersen, who charmed hearts and minds with his soundtrack to 2001 film Amélie, presents his tenth album, ALL in the Royal Festival Hall. The album is the first to be recorded at Tiersen’s new studio, venue and community centre, The Eskal Project, built in an abandoned discotheque on the small island of Ushant in the Celtic Sea. It incorporates field recordings from the redwood forests of California to Tempelhof airport in Berlin, and features special guest vocalists, many of whom will join Tiersen for these exclusive London dates (RFH, 19, 20 February)

Ministry of Sound: The Annual Classical is Ministry of Sound’s first ever show produced with a full classical orchestra. The event presents some of the biggest 1990s dance tracks like never before, performed by the 50-strong London Concert Orchestra and original vocalists, including ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’ (The Chemical Brothers), ‘Insomnia’ (Faithless) and ‘Right Here, Right Now’ (Fatboy Slim). This world premiere launches a UK-wide tour and includes a screening of a new documentary with never-before-seen footage and live orchestral accompaniment, exploring the history of The Annual and the Ministry of Sound club (RFH, 26 Jan)

House music icon Louie Vega began spinning discs aged 13. By 20 he was DJing house and block parties in his local Bronx, and three years later was one half of ‘Masters at Work’, regarded as one of the top production and remix teams in the world. Hugely respected, he now brings E.O.L. Soulfrito to the Royal Festival Hall – the condensed version of his Elements Of Life live-band project – a collection of eminently talented musicians curated by Vega, including Josh Milan on keyboards, Anané Vega on vocals, Abel Marcel on guitar, Gene Perez on bass, Luisito Quintero on drums and Carlos Quintero on percussion, playing classy house-infused jazz, funk and soul (RFH, 31 Jan)

Composer and producer Troy Miller presents Gershwin Reimagined, a night of timeless classics such as ‘Embraceable You’, ‘Summertime’ and ‘I Got Rhythm’ performed by Philharmonia Orchestra. The night features the electrifying vocals of double Mercury award-nominated Laura Mvula and Olivier Award-nominated Shaun Escoffery who, as well as releasing five albums, has played Mufasa in the West End musical The Lion King since 2008 – the longest a West End actor has played a single part continuously (RFH, 10 Feb)

Singer and oud player Dhafer Youssef takes to the Royal Festival Hall stage to reveal material from his new album Sounds of Mirrors. The UK premiere features musicians from four corners of the world, weaving together the musical tapestry of his native Tunisia and a modern and intense style of jazz (RFH, 15 Mar)

One of the most internationally-renowned modern musicians and composers from the Balkans, Goran Bregović has sold over 6 million albums and collaborated with everyone from Iggy Pop to the Gipsy Kings. In this UK premiere, Bregović and his international ensemble perform music from his new album Three Letters from Sarajevo, which explores the cultural and religious diversity of his home town Sarajevo, and sends a message of peace, understanding and appreciation of differences (RFH, 1 Mar)

David Gray, the man behind 1999’s heartbreak classic ‘Babylon’ and unmistakable voice of the millenium, performs his new album Gold in a Brass Age in the Royal Festival Hall, the only London performance in his 2019 global tour (RFH, 17 Mar)

To celebrate 25 years as a performing and recording artist, Beverley Knight brings a special one-off concert to the Royal Festival Hall. Backed by a full symphony orchestra for the first time, Knight will go back to her beginnings, performing specially arranged versions of her biggest hits, covering soul and R&B classics with her own style, and reflecting her highly acclaimed parallel career in the West End musical theatre scene (RFH, 23 May)

In this London exclusive, electro pioneer Gary Numan reviews his monumental career in conversation, looking back on his work and influence recognised by an array of the world’s greatest artists, from Prince to Lady Gaga, Jack White to Kanye West, Beck to Queens Of The Stone Age, and The Foo Fighters to Nine Inch Nails (RFH, 16 Jan)
Electronic & experimental

Electronica producer Christian Löffler brings his latest project to the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Blending instrumental melodies with elements of techno and house, Löffler’s live shows have been acclaimed by concert hall audiences and club-goers. Together with vocalist Mohna, Löffler & Ensemble present unreleased pieces and tracks from most recent albums A Forest and Mare (QEH, 6 Mar)

Genre-defying composer and pianist Kelly Moran attempts to dismantle experimental music’s imposing image with her free-form, self-produced new album Ultraviolet, creating lush soundscapes with textures both synthetic and physical, including the prepared piano (PUR, 5 Apr)

Widely recognised as the pioneers of ambient house music, British duo The Orb celebrate their 30th anniversary at the iconic Queen Elizabeth Hall with a set of greatest hits and new music as part of Krankbrother’s Re-Textured festival, combining experimental electronic music with Brutalist and modernist architecture (QEH, 30 Mar)
New & notable

London songstress Phildel grew up in a home where music was banned and has since been soundtracking adverts to fund her lyrical, fantasy-driven songwriting. Next year, she brings her haunting electronica and neo-classical style to Southbank Centre to present her first album in over five years, Wave Your Flags (PUR, 20 Mar)

Born in Aleppo to Armenian parents, living in Saudi Arabia as a child and finally settling in LA, Azniv Korkejian, aka Bedouine’s influences are as nomadic as the name suggests. With a mix of politics-inspired sixties folk, seventies country-funk and bossa nova cool, Bedouine brings her mesmerising voice and guitar skills to the Purcell Room in March (PUR, 22 Mar)

Following a hugely successful debut year, hotly-tipped Brighton/London-based trio Our Girl bring their critically acclaimed first album Stranger Today to the Purcell Room, promising new garage rock and stark tenderness through Soph Nathan’s honest and personal lyrics (PUR, 6 Mar)

The daughter of a Kirov ballerina and an engineer from Leningrad, Canadian singer-songwriter Michelle Gurevich (formerly known as Chinawoman) grew up listening to her parents’ collection of Soviet and 70s European records. She brings her intimate slowcore rock, flecked with vintage keyboards and synth strings, to Southbank Centre for one night only (PUR, 15 May)

Performing his debut solo album Alone, Spanish-born pianist and composer Nico Casal revisits his experiences in East London struggling to survive against the expense and noise of the capital. Alone was born on a solitary Sunday, recorded into Casal’s laptop via a cheap microphone, occasionally adding elements from a broken organ and a small synth. He brings this experience to Southbank Centre for Piano Day, an annual worldwide event taking place on the 88th day of the year (because of the number of keys on the instrument) promoting and sharing the centuries-old joy of playing piano (PUR, 29 Mar)
Jazz & world

One of the most venerable jazz and gospel singers of her generation, Georgia-born Lizz Wright sings with an inimitable voice. She brings her latest album Grace to the Queen Elizabeth Hall, alongside revisits to the past 15 years of her rising career (QEH, 8 Mar)

Supremely talented keyboardist and Grammy-winning founding member of Snarky Puppy, Bill Laurance returns to Southbank Centre following his sold out performance in 2018’s EFG London Jazz Festival, with a solo presentation of his intensely individual approach to both acoustic and electric keyboards (QEH, 29 Mar)

Two of Britain’s most adventurous jazz pianists, Keith Tippett & Matthew Bourne play together for the first time – on two grand pianos – in the intimate setting of the Purcell Room. This new and exciting partnership between two maverick pianists a generation apart, is a meeting of like-minded but distinct individuals (PUR, 28 Apr)
Norwegian jazz saxophonist and composer Marius Neset brings his energetic creativity to Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room for this live performance. A virtuoso performer and composer, Neset creates intricate, compelling music that he has toured across Europe (PUR, 5 Feb)

The legendary British saxophonist Steve Williamson combines classical, jazz and his lifelong study of harmonics to create uniquely physical musical experience. Alongside his trio, Steve is joined by jazz string quartet, StringTing – a flagship group from Tomorrow’s Warriors, the celebrated hothouse for young jazz talent in the UK and resident ensemble at Southbank Centre (PUR, 1 May)

Plus free gigs every Friday lunchtime and evening in the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Royal Festival Hall foyers, including contemporary chamber jazz from the Tom Green Septet (QEH Foyer, 4 Jan); two of the biggest names in New York’s creative music scene, electronic improviser and percussionist Shayna Dunkelman and genre-defying composer and performer Du Yun, who play a rare duo set (QEH Foyer, 18 Jan); and acoustic trio Jaywalkers with their inventive brand of Americana (RFH Central Bar, 8 Feb). Further information in the listings.

Tickets for all events (unless otherwise stated) will go on sale to Southbank Centre Members on 20 November and to the general public on 21 November 2019 at / 020 3879 9555

Damion Pell
About the Author

Loves long walks along the beach, holding hands and romantic 80's power ballads, partial to electronic music and likes to make the odd mix or two.