What’s On: The Southbank Centre announces new digital programme

The Southbank Centre has announced a new digital programme as it extends closure to June 30 2020 because of coronavirus.

A number of shows and exhibitions that had to be cancelled are now available on the Southbank Centre website.

One of the shows available is Beyond Beethoven Nine in which the Southbank Centre hosts a one-day digital event on April 18 to mark Beethovens’ 250th birthday celebrations.

Fronted by conductor Marin Alsop, this activity comes in place of Beyond Beethoven Nine, a mass participation project which was due to take place at the Royal Festival Hall.

Alongside a ‘socially-distanced orchestra’ led by National Youth Orchestra, readings, blogs, lectures, videos, playlists from leading cultural figures will open up the world of Beethoven to audiences online.

The day centres his Ninth symphony and explores how its message of unification through art can be viewed afresh, bringing a sense of hope and optimism to today’s
current crisis.

TS Eliot prize-nominated British-born Cypriot poet, Anthony Anaxagorou will offer a digital reading of his poem ‘O Human’, originally commissioned as the new libretto for Beyond Beethoven Nine.

Reflecting on what joy means to young people, the poem is a mosaic of words from almost 100 poems written by pupils from London secondary schools and young refugees who spent time workshopping with Anaxaogorou.

Marin Alsop, National Youth Orchestra conductor, said: “Beethoven’s message of unity, tolerance and joy is as relevant today as it was in 1824.

“Beethoven celebrated the essence of what it is to be human and what it is to be connected. It is truly fitting then that Beethoven, an artist who himself suffered and overcame extraordinary personal hardship, would become so inexplicably connected to this year of unprecedented human challenge.

“In light of our current world situation, I am so disappointed that I can’t join our friends at the Southbank Centre, a key stop on my year-long project, ‘The Global Ode to Joy’.

“To you, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and all the other 450 participants who were due to be joining us, I want you to embrace Beethoven’s philosophy at this time more than ever before and hold on tight to his central thesis – that together we are stronger and that art can truly unify us all.”

Elaine Bedell, chief executive of the Southbank Centre, said: “It’s with great sadness that we’re having to close our venues for a longer period of time.

To play our part in stopping the spread of the virus, we’ve cancelled or postponed all our events up to Tuesday, June.

“We will continue to follow the Government advice and our plan is to re-open the Southbank Centre when it is safe to do so.”


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