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Your London Sinfonietta Memories

19 Dec 2017

London Sinfonietta with Oliver Knussen, on tour in the USSR, 1986 © Clive Barda
London Sinfonietta with Oliver Knussen, on tour in the USSR, 1986 © Clive Barda

We want to hear your memories of the London Sinfonietta, whether you've been coming to our concerts since 1968, or have just discovered us!

So far, we’ve received some lovely messages in the run up to our birthday celebrations in January 2018, sharing fond memories of the London Sinfonietta. See the best of them below...

My first LS concert was in the QEH on November 24 1969 when I heard the European premiere of Roberto Gerhard's Leo – my first-ever live Gerhard and an introduction to [so far] forty-eight astonishing years of listening. And soon – as I'll never stop saying with inexhaustible gratitude – Gillian Moore's education programme changed my life and work for ever. Thank you all, again and again! " Tom Deveson
My favourite story was from Paul Silverthorne ... (allegedly) ... James Loughran was famously an "upbeat" conductor (i.e. the actual downbeat of the bar was actually at the top of the bounce of his "downbeat"). Fed up with adjusting to this in rehearsals, the strings agreed to go with the literal place of his downbeat and proceeded in the performance to give a much more literal performance of the Elgar Introduction & Allegro (I think it was) than poor Jimmy was able (allegedly) to adjust to! " Chris Foster 
Vividly remember my first @Ldn_Sinfonietta concert as a Graduate Trainee in 2002. Somehow I made it onto the stage, page turning in Louis Andriessen’s De Snelheid for David Hockings on woodblock! Ear-splitting and terrifying! " Nick Jackman
I remember the night they played Miles Davis Gil Evans treatment of Porgy and Bess. Ray Warleigh who plays on At the Chime of a City Clock was lead alto... " Iain Cameron

We'd love to hear from you - if you have a LS memory from across our 50 year history! You can share your memories by emailing, commenting on our Facebook competition post or tweeting us with the hashtag #LSMemories

By sharing your memories, you’ll be added to this story, and entered into a competition to win a pair of tickets to our 50th Anniversary concert on 24 January 2018 at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall and an exclusive signed copy of our 50th Anniversary programme book

#LS Memories

Tom Deveson
This happened in about 1987, I guess. My class in my Peckham school took part in a version of Berio's Folksongs with Linda Hirst at Goldsmiths College. How? I desperately wanted them to be involved directly in an LS education project, but the Senior Figure at the ILEA wouldn't allow us 'because you've already done two other projects' - which was undeniably true. At a concert interval at the QEH, I threw myself on Gillian Moore's tender mercies. By wonderful chance, Richard McNicol, who was running the project, was also in the Hall, and Gillian put my case to him.

RMc: I'm working in a school off the Old Kent Road. After I've finished with them, I can get to your school by about 4 pm. Have the children ready to play, and we can do it.
TD: But how can we pay you for your time?
RMc: Give me a nice bottle of wine, and make sure the music is *really* the children's own. That'll be enough and more. 

We did a piece based on the Motettu de tristura: 

Inspired by the wonderful Richard McNicol, my children devised a version of the Jamaican children's song, Dumplins: 

They used the Berio devices of a drone on xylophone and metallophone, an ostinato [in this case violin playing in parallel thirds] and untuned percussion for spice and colour. I must say, it was wonderful. And they played it in Goldsmith's as an additional part of the Berio piece. Linda had just finished recording her version with Diego Masson and Berio himself; and she said some very kind things, all the more affecting because they came from so near the source.

It's a heart-warming story from which all the people involved - Richard [he got the bottle of wine], Gillian, Linda, the London Sinfonietta and my south London children - come out well.

Bless them all, living and dead, thirty years on.