The following selected from the complete press release
At a time of significant national and international uncertainty, the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change, announced today (17 May 2017), explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape. With new world-class work across three distinct strands – Changing times, Changing perceptions and Changing society now – the season presents bold artistic responses to vital global issues including feminism, climate change and human rights, while providing a platform for voices currently underrepresented in the arts, and will feature across all Barbican stages, galleries, screens and public spaces.
Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican said: “The Art of Change is a timely look at the dialogue that exists between art, society and politics. In addition to showcasing work that has responded to geopolitical and social events of the past, our 2018 season will explore the current, and potential, role of artists and the arts in bringing about change. Throughout the year, the Barbican’s public spaces will host talks, debates and projects, fostering civic discussion and featuring a diverse range of voices debating the roles and responsibilities of individual citizens, the arts, and arts centres, in responding to the challenges of the future.”
Louise Jeffreys, Director of Arts, Barbican said: “Our 2018 season weaves multiple stories and experiences together across all of the Barbican’s art forms exploring changing societal attitudes, power dynamics, relationships and the treatment of individuals and groups considered to be outside of the mainstream. With projects tackling some of the most pressing global concerns of our time to more localized issues impacting the UK today, we will be seeking to understand how culture borrows from society – and vice versa – while ultimately asking, ‘Can the arts change the world?’”
Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (UK Premiere)
Tue 20 Feb 2018, 7pm, Barbican Hall
Produced by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Barbican
The Barbican and the BBC SO co-present the UK premiere of Jake Heggie’s first opera Dead Man Walking (which had its world premiere in 2000) – one of the most political and most widely-performed operas in the US – in a performance directed by Leonard Foglia. The opera is based on the narrative book by Sister Helen Prejean, about the real-life journey of a nun who becomes the pen-pal and, later, spiritual advisor to a convicted murderer on Louisiana State Penitentiary’s death row. The murderer Joseph De Rocher refuses to take responsibility, portraying himself as the victim. Through meetings with him, the heartbroken parents of the murder victims, and De Rocher’s own family, Sister Helen, who went on to become one of America’s leading advocates for the abolition of the death penalty, makes an extraordinary journey through pain, conflict and grief to help Joseph find his way to the truth, and to the redemptive power of love. Joyce DiDonato stars as Sister Helen in this concert-staged performance.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis
Mon 26 Feb–Thu 1 Mar 2018, Barbican Hall
International Associate Residency
The world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis returns to the Barbican for its fifth International Associate residency in 2018. A highlight of the residency will be a re-creation of the famous Benny Goodman 1938 Carnegie Hall jazz concert – the first interracial concert at New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall, and a watershed moment in American music history.
Goodman was a classically trained Jewish clarinet prodigy from Chicago who became a jazz and swing musician and bandleader, known as the "King of Swing". In the mid-1930s, against a backdrop of racial segregation, Goodman led one of the first well-known racially integrated jazz groups. On 16 January 1938, Goodman's big band plus guest soloists were invited to play a jazz concert in New York's Carnegie Hall, which has been described by AllMusic as "the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history: jazz's "coming out" party to the world of "respectable" music”.
The residency provides an opportunity to experience fifteen of America’s finest soloists, ensemble players, and arrangers in jazz music today in concerts, workshops and masterclasses. Further details to be announced.
Powerplant – The Filthy Fifteen
Tue 1 May 2018, 7.30pm, Milton Court
Nicole Lizée’s The Filthy Fifteen was commissioned by Joby Burgess in 2016 and is inspired by fifteen songs deemed too explicit by the committee of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) in 1985. The committee made a playlist of what it deemed the most offensive music at the time, including songs by megastars like Madonna and Prince. The list, dubbed the "Filthy 15", was to serve as an example of how the PMRC thought albums should be “rated”. But instead of issuing general "PG" and "R" designations, the committee suggested content-based ratings: "X" for profane or sexually explicit lyrics, "O" for occult references, "D/A" for lyrics about drugs and alcohol and "V" for violent content. Ultimately, the Record Industry Association of America convinced labels to affix potentially offensive albums with the warning stickers that are still in place now: “Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics.” At the time, the stickers became such a talking point that the Senate's Committee on Commerce held a hearing on the "Contents of Music and the Lyrics of Records", at which Frank Zappa, John Denver and Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider testified. The musicians were worried that the stickers would lead to record stores refusing to carry albums, a fact that came true with Walmart.
The Filthy Fifteen incident indicates how the arts can change society by challenging and redefining the boundaries of taste, thereby changing the limits of what is acceptable. It is an example of arts changing boundaries, and the record industry responding and changing by introducing its new Parental Advisory categories. Nicole Lizée’s work, in turn, has its own artistic take on this historical episode, looking critically at it from the point of censorship.
The performance is part of a concert by dynamo percussionist Joby Burgess and his sound and video trio Powerplant – with Matthew Fairclough and Kathy Hinde – which celebrates bold new approaches to composition with works by Nicole Lizée, Will Gregory, Graham Fitkin and the world premiere of a Barbican commission by Linda Buckley.
Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel
Wed 2–Fri 4 May 2018, 7.30pm, Barbican Hall
International Associate Residency
The Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel arrive for an International Associate residency in May 2018 with a programme including the European premiere of American composer Ted Hearne’s Place, which will receive its world premiere in LA in April 2018. Set in a country at a crossroads where the intersections of manifest destiny and gentrification meet history and personal experience, Place explores the complex and contentious map of the place we call home. The New York Times has praised Hearne for his “topical, politically sharp-edged works” and this performance is part of Green Umbrella, the LA Phil’s acclaimed series of new music. It will be performed by the LA Phil New Music Group.
As part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic residency, 50 young people from London and Los Angeles will be brought together to share ideas and create a Youth Manifesto that explores what young people need from the arts in the future. Part of Sky Arts Art 50.
London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle
Sat 13 Jan 2018, 7.30pm, Barbican Hall
On 13 January 2018, Sir Simon Rattle conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in Genesis Suite, a musical interpretation of the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis. Made up of seven movements, each written by a different composer, the work was conceived in 1943 by Tin Pan Alley and film composer/conductor Nathaniel Shilkret. Shilkret wished to make a grand and shocking musical gesture, drawing attention to the horrors of the Second World War, and breaking boundaries of musical styles.
Shilkret involved some of the most famous composers of his time for the project, including Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Milhaud, Toch, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Tansman, who all wrote music in very different styles. They were, however, all united in their experience of being European émigrés in America, displaced from their homelands by war and totalitarian regimes. Shilkret also asked Béla Bartók to take part but unfortunately Bartók was already gravely ill at that point and not able to participate. To honour his planned participation, the Barbican performance includes Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. The production is devised and presented by creative director Gerard McBurney, with visuals by award winning projection designer Mike Tutaj.
FOYERS AND PUBLIC SPACES
Against the backdrop of a fast-changing social and political landscape, cultural institutions are now, more than ever before, grappling with the question of their own civic responsibility. We believe part of this questioning requires us to experiment with new models of artistic production.
Real Quick is an ambitious attempt to build a new platform within an established arts institution for rapid responses to the state of the world, publicised no more than seven days in advance. Programmed directly in response to unfolding political and social issues, these informal talks, discussions and experiments will take place in the Barbican’s public spaces intermittently throughout the year, and will involve a diverse range of contributors.
Subject to Change
What do we know today, and what are the unknowns of tomorrow? Subject to Change invites twelve young poets to speak to our changing world, one for every month of 2018. Created for Barbican digital and online channels, the Barbican will issue a poem for the month written and performed by young, emerging spoken word artists. In our fast changing times, Subject to Change aims to fleetingly capture the shifting landscapes of the present through the timeless art of poetry.
2018 Reflective Conservatoire Conference
Theme: Artists as Citizens
Tue 20–Fri 23 Feb 2018
The 5th triennial Reflective Conservatoire Conference (taking place at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Barbican Centre) brings together leading performers, teachers and researchers from all over the world to address key issues in Higher Education within music and drama, explored through a series of performances, practical workshops, keynote speeches, curated sessions, seminars and round-table discussions.
Economic, social and political landscapes are transforming in unparalleled ways across the globe. However bewildering this may be, one thing is certain: we are living in a time where artists and the arts must realise their potential more fully as leaders in society. Responding to this, the theme for the 2018 Reflective Conservatoire Conference is Artists as Citizens and will consider how artists, arts organisations, and specialist higher education in the performing arts in particular, can and are already engaging with artistic citizenship within contemporary societies. What are the possibilities for practitioners individually and collectively? How is specialist higher education changing in response to this agenda; what are the implications and opportunities for organisational development and leadership?