As the BBC Proms gets set to debut at a car park in Peckham and the Silver Screen Sci-Fi launches at the Royal Observatory’s Planetarium, The Resident takes a look at the most exciting events happening in south east London this summer for kids and grown-ups too
Words: Madeleine Howell
On 3 September 2016, The Proms will be stepping out of its comfort zone of the Royal Albert Hall and setting up camp at the Bold Tendencies multi-storey car park in Peckham. As the brainchild of the acclaimed Multi-Story Orchestra, it’s part of a project that seeks to bring classical music to unexpected places, as well as into schools and playgrounds.
Artistic Director Christopher Stark has been applauded for reconnecting classical music with urban culture, and the Proms performance of Steve Reich’s major work, Music for a Large Ensemble, along with shifting patterns from his octet, Eight Lines, is part of a movement that has seen performances in different types of spaces enhance the experience and attract new audiences.
‘We’re thrilled to be performing some beautiful works for the Proms,’ says composer, pianist and Multi-Story Orchestra co-founder Kate Whitley. ‘We have really big audiences at the car park, with hundreds of people crowding around. It makes for an electric atmosphere. The warm responses from the crowd can make the space feel really intimate, and the front row is so close to the orchestra.’
At the end of August, Whitley herself will once again be performing again in Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos with pianist Richard Uttley.
As part of the same series, the stunning Old Chapel of the Royal Naval College in Greenwich will also host the BBC singers on 6 August. David Hill will present the religious musical works of Rossini starring soprano Elizabeth Watts which, according to the BBC, will evoke ‘joy tinged with grief and anxiety, amid vocal writing of purity and pungency’.
Of the same ilk, and also in an industrial setting, is the Rooftop Film Club outdoor cinema at the CLF Art Café in the Bussey Building, which is not to be missed. The line-up of screenings is eclectic, with films ranging from Spice World to Top Gun and Amélie, as well as more recent releases, along with panoramic views of the city and a starlit sky. Ensconced in comfy director’s chairs with cosy blankets and food and drink by Italian pop-up Forza Win, you won’t want to go home when the credits roll.
Watch Orlando starring Tilda Swinton Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette on the picturesque lawns of the Queen’s House with performances from the choir-in-residence, The Oriana Choir
There’s also a packed summer programme at Royal Museums Greenwich, which includes the Royal Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House, Cutty Sark, and the Royal Observatory. Again, for cinephiles, there’s the Nomad Open-Air Cinema on the picturesque lawns of the Queen’s House with performances from the choir-in-residence, The Oriana Choir. You can take your pick between Orlando starring Tilda Swinton on 11 August, or Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette the next day – both apt for their setting.
If sci-fi is more your thing, the Silver Screen Sci-Fi series at the Royal Observatory’s Planetarium is showing a stellar selection of cult classics, each followed by a short talk from an astronomer on the science behind the fiction. Don’t miss Galaxy Quest (1999) starring Tim Allen and the late Alan Rickman on 20 August. While you’re there, take in the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015 exhibition and catch the visionary Above & Beyond flight exhibition in association with Boeing and NASA.
For Public Programmes Producer Katherine McAlpine, the International Slavery Remembrance Day on 23 August at the National Maritime Museum is a stand-out event. Featuring live music from the Ethno Vox choir, it’s an exploration of the cultural legacies of the transatlantic slave trade, which is inextricable with maritime history.
‘It’s a UNESCO designated day to remember lives lost,’ McAlpine says. ‘We mark it with talks, gallery tours and walking tours looking at the heritage of Greenwich. It’s for both adults and families – it’s important for the black community in Greenwich, but it’s part of everyone’s history. We’ve even a created a character called John Simmons, a black sailor, part of Nelson’s navy, whose mother was an enslaved woman, to bring the history to life in an interactive, family friendly way. We try and take up as much of the building as we possibly can because it’s a really important day.’
We’ll be creating a shanty town within the grounds and families can help to build, and the pirate tea party will be a really fun event
Over at the Cutty Sark, McAlpine is particularly excited about the Pirate Takeover weekend from 6-7 August. ‘The Cutty Sark wasn’t a pirate ship,’ she points out, ‘but for this one weekend only they’re taking over – so you can meet pirates on board and hunt for treasure. We’ll be creating a shanty town within the grounds and families can help to build, and the pirate tea party will be a really fun event.’
At Eltham Palace, there are Lazy Jazz Sundays with jazz musicians performing live every Sunday from 31 July until 21 August, as well as imaginative adventures for children and adults alike from An Ugly Bug Safari from 8-10 August and Kings & Queens, where you can learn the ins and outs of palace life and how to impress your regal rulers, running 1-3 August.
So from pirates to the Proms via planetary adventures, it’s time to make the most of south east London’s unique venues…
Proms at The Chapel, Old Royal Naval College; bbc.co.uk/events
Pirate Takeover on the Cutty Sark; rmg.co.uk
Ugly Bug Safari at Eltham Palace; englishheritage.org.uk
Nomad Open-Air Cinema at The Queen’s House; whereisthenomad.com
Curtain Up at Eltham Palace; englishheritage.org.uk
International Slavery Remembrance Day 2016 at the National Maritime Museum; rmg.co.uk
Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion with Kate Whitley at Bold Tendencies Multi-Storey Carpark; boldtendencies.com
Proms at Bold Tendencies Multi-Storey Carpark; bbc.co.uk/events