One of my NEW tours for 2020 is Musical Kensington – Variations On A Theme Of W8. Over the next few weeks I'll be building and sharing a playlist to accompany the tour.
The playlist will feature pieces, songs and artists associated with the route of the new tour as well as the wider Kensington neighbourhood beyond – everything from Queen to Flanders & Swann.
In introducing the Kensington Playlist there’s only one possible starting point. Hubert Parry and his most famous piece, Jerusalem…
The Royal Albert Hall will be one of our ports of call on the Musical Kensington tour and Parry is woven into the fabric of the place. The most famous night in the calendar of the concert hall affectionately nicknamed "The Kensington Gasworks" is the Last Night Of the Proms – and Jerusalem is a cornerstone of the night.
We swing by Hubert Parry’s former residence on the regular Thursday afternoon Kensington tour, too…
… and he'll also play a part when we discuss the Royal College of Music on the new Musical Kensington tour.
The second piece is, perhaps, a little more off-the-beaten track.
I’ve been listening to the music of 20th Century English composer Sir Arthur Bliss (1891 - 1975) lately - inspired by Tom Service’s excellent BBC Radio 3 programme & podcast The Listening Service.
Download & listen here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06gy3b3
My Bliss-binge, combined with the changing of the seasons - spring will be underway when the Musical Kensington tour goes out – brought me to Bliss’s The Approach of Autumn from his ballet Adam Zero (1946).
Bliss wrote the piece while resident in Kensington, at 15 Cottesmore Gardens where he lived during the post war period.
Adam Zero was premiered at Covent Garden in 1946 with Constant Lambert* conducting. Lambert was also a sometime Kensingtonite, residing at 42 Peel Street from 1929-31. The piece is melancholy and intensely dramatic, dominated by pensive woodwind and nagged by chilly strings. I love it…
Bliss was appointed Master of the Queen’s Music in 1953 and in this capacity he composed pieces for the funeral of Winston Churchill and the investiture of the Prince of Wales.
In 1936 he composed the score for the early British sci-fi film Things To Come (based on H.G Wells's The Shape of Things To Come). Here's the trailer with Bliss's histrionic score wonderfully at odds with the stiffly posh actors…
Bliss is represented elsewhere on the London landscape with a blue plaque in Hampstead.
I’m out and about in Kensington every second Thursday leading the Old Kensington tour for London Walks - book HERE.
Musical Kensington - Variations On A Theme Of W8 joins the London Walks repertoire on Saturday 3rd may at 2.30pm. Book here…
*Constant Lambert, influential 20th Century conductor, composer and critic will crop up later in the year on another of my NEW tours Musical Marylebone which goes out in November.
My Public Scheduled Tours for February 2020
13th February 2020 – Inside Covent Garden – 10am Covent Garden Tube
13th February 2020 – Old Kensington – 2pm High Street Kensington Tube
13th February 2020 – Jack The Ripper – 7.30pm Tower Hill Tube (by the tram)
14th February 2020 – Beatlemania! The Beatles In London 1961-65 – 10am Embankment tube
14th February 2020 – Rock'n'Roll London – 2pm Tottenham Court Road Tube (exit 1)
15th February 2020 – Beatlemania! The Beatles In London 1961-65 – 10am Embankment tube SOLD OUT
15th February 2020 – Old Kensington – 2pm High Street Kensington Tube
27th February 2020 – London Horror Story – 7.30pm St Paul's Tube
27th February 2020 – Old Kensington – 2pm High Street Kensington Tube
27th February 2020 – Jack The Ripper – 7.30pm Tower Hill Tube (by the tram)
28th February 2020 – Beatlemania! The Beatles In London 1961-65 – 10am Embankment tube
28th February 2020 – Rock'n'Roll London – 2pm Tottenham Court Road Tube (exit 1)
29th February 2020 – The Beatles + The Rolling Stones in 1960s London – 10.30am Leicester Sq Tube (exit 1)
29th February 2020 – London Horror Story – 7.30pm St Paul's Tube
Keep In Touch…