On the first day of 2017, Scot:Lands takes its audience on a journey across Edinburgh’s Old Town. You’ll discover a unique landscape of the very best in music, art and theatre, created and curated by Scotland’s most innovative artists and musicians. The audience is randomly allocated ‘Lands’ to visit via email, making for a varied cultural adventure to start the year.
Multiple venues around Edinburgh’s Old Town, January 1
2. Psappha: Eight Songs for a Mad King, Hallé St Peter’s, Manchester
Psappha marks its 25th anniversary by recalling its 20-year relationship with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (known affectionately as ‘Max’). In this concert, they tackle Davies’s iconic ‘Eight Songs for a Mad King’ – a classic of music-theatre graphically portraying King George III’s descent into madness via a range of innovative musical techniques. There’s also a performance of his piece ‘Stedman Doubles’, which was deemed unplayable back in 1955, and the world premiere of David Horne’s ‘Resonating Instruments’ – a volatile work that ‘entwines the ensemble around a solo cimbalom.’
Hallé St Peter’s, Manchester, January 9
3. Arthur Russell’s Tower of Meaning (UK Premiere) with Oliver Coates, London
Arthur Russell, a composer and cellist known for his work in the genres of dance and pop, also experimented with the avant-garde. This UK premiere of his orchestral work Tower of Meaning sees the London Contemporary Orchestra and Oliver Coates performing Russell’s music in the round.
Kings Place, London, January 14-15
4. Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, London
Ligeti wasn’t sure that you could class his wild and theatrical journey through the end of the world as an ‘opera’. And since he despised the term ‘anti-opera’, Le grand macabre is perhaps the first, and possibly the last, example of the ‘anti-anti-opera’. Peter Sellars directs and Sir Simon Rattle conducts the LSO in this semi-staged performance of the avant-garde masterpiece.
Barbican Hall, London, January 14-15
5. ZooNation’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, London
The Royal Opera House presents a playful, off-the-wall take on the madcap characters of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, reimagined for The Roundhouse. With their exuberant style of hip-hop narrative dance-theatre, ZooNation have previously been described as ‘breathtaking’ by Time Out. Here’s a show suitable for all ages.
Roundhouse, London, until January 22
6. Philip Glass’s Les Enfants Terribles, London
In celebration of the minimalist maestro’s 80th birthday, the Barbican are staging Philip Glass’ radical dance-opera Les Enfants Terribles, composed in 1996 as the last of his trilogy based on the writings of Jean Cocteau. Directed and choreographed by the Venezualan-born dance maker Javier De Frutos, this is a strange and surrealist tale of two siblings living isolated in a room, exploring their imaginations and fantasies in a series of increasingly twisted games. It also features Royal Ballet Principals Edward Watson and Zenaida Yanowsky.
Barbican Theatre, London, January 27-29
7. Film Screening: Landfill Harmonic, Manchester
Landfill Harmonic is a film about ‘The Recycled Orchestra’, a group of children from a Paraguayan slum whose instruments are made entirely out of rubbish. Following the orchestra as they take their trash-into-music spectacle around the world, it is a film that addresses timely issues such as poverty and pollution as well as telling a tale of the transformative power of music.
Band on the Wall, Manchester, January 13
8. Emulsion Festival, Birmingham
Trish Clowes’ collaborative, cross-genre music event provides a platform for contemporary composition and improvisation. This one-day festival showcases a selection of bold new works by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian, Percy Pursglove and Hans Koller, appearances from Iain Ballamy & Joe Wright and a performance from Clowes’ new small ensemble My Iris. Also throughout the day are pop-up performances around the space and a panel discussion chaired by Fiona Talkington, presenter of Radio 3’s Late Junction.
mac birmingham, Birmingham, January 27
9. The Sleeper Society, Cardiff
Firmly embedded in their roots of sound art, audio-visual and electronic music, The Sleeper Society showcase the best of contemporary experimental music. In an informal environment and relaxed atmosphere, local composers Sam Barnes and Benjamin Talbott curate a programme of international works that contemplate themes of identity and ego. And to round off the evening, they promise an exciting and almost destined to fail musical experiment based on an existing famous work.
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, January 23
10. The Ascent of Song, Durham
A playful and polyphonic concert charting the history of singing as a universal medium of human expression across its first million years. With a programme that goes from medieval and Renaissance pieces right up to the contemporary, and from the Ba’aka tribes of the Congo to the songs of Eastern Europe, this is an evening promising to embrace every form of song, from the exotic to the commonplace, from football chants to fa-la-las.
Department of Music, Palace Green, Durham