Programme announced for the Southbank Centre's 'The Rest is Noise'

BBC announces series of programmes on modern music

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Labèque sistersThe Southbank Centre has unveiled the programme for its ‘Rest is Noise’ festival.

The year-long celebration of modern music will tackle the music of the last century through chronological themes, programmed over weekends throughout the year. These weekend events will include sessions focusing on landmark compositions, as well as talks with guest speakers and musicologists.

The festival features 250 events –100 concerts from 18 orchestras, 150 talks, debates and film screenings.

Highlights will include a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 film Modern Times, with live musical accompaniment by the Philharmonia Orchestra; performances from pianists Marielle and Katia Labèque, the Berlin Philharmonic and the London Philharmonic Orchestra; and music by George Antheil, Duke Ellington, Schoenberg and Kurt Weill.

Politician and academic Baroness Shirley Williams will open the festival on Saturday 19 January with a speech called Here Comes the 20th Century, tracing the impact of events that shaped the course of the century’s cultural progress.  Other leading figures from the arts, politics and science will host talks and debates throughout the year, including Alain de Botton, Jonathan Cross and author Alex Ross, whose book The Rest is Noise was the catalyst for the festival.  

In conjunction with the festival, BBC Four will broadcast a new three-part documentary series The Sound of Fury: A Century of Modern Music and it will also show archive footage throughout the year, reflecting and commenting on the music, composers and events featured in the festival. Many of the festival’s events will be broadcast live on the channel, as well as on Radio 3.

Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre, said: ‘Inspired by Alex Ross’s book, we have set out to capture the spirit of a century and how music reflected its discords, wars and revolutions. Through the epic scale and breadth of the programme, we hope to inspire new audiences to discover the multiple stories and the music of the 20th century.’

BBC Four’s controller, Richard Klein described the aim of the project: ‘[it] will capture some of the key voices of men and women who wrote the music and the bigger world history behind so many seminal compositions which will remain part of the BBC's archive for future generations.’

The Open University is a partner of the Festival and will be contributing supplementary educational resources; it has created a new website containing extensive free learning materials which explore 20th century music and culture.

More details about the festival’s events can be found on The Rest Is Noise website

The programme is as follows:
Part 1: Here Comes the 20th Century (19-20 January)
Part 2:  The Rise of Nationalism (2-3 February)
Part 3: Paris (9-10 February)
Part 4:  Berlin in the '20s and '30s   (2-3 March)
Part 5:  America (23-24 March)
Part 6:  Art of Fear (11-12 May)
Part 7:  Britten’s Centenary (28-29 September)
Part 8:  Post-War World (5-6 October)
Part 9:  1960s Weekend (26-27 October)
Part 10:  Politics and Spirituality in the Late 20th Century (2-3 November)
Part 11:  Superpower  (9-10 November)
Part 12:  New World Order  (7-8 December)

Rachel Coombes

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