City of London Festival kicks off this month

After a 50th anniversary season of unprecedented scale and success last year, the 2013 City of London Festival is less than a month away and promises to be every bit as stunning as its predecessor. For five weeks, the capital’s public spaces and venues – from the biggest concert halls to the most intimate chapels – will host an eclectic and exciting programme of music, dance, exhibitions and workshops.

One of Britain’s most important 20th century composers will be in the spotlight this year, as it’s 100 years since the birth of Benjamin Britten. The City of London Festival celebrates the centenary with a panoply of performances drawn from Britten’s extensive oeuvre; attendees have an opportunity to see works of staggering scale in the hands of the country’s finest symphony orchestras, but also solo interpretations of lesser-known compositions.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s rendition of Britten’s War Requiem is sure to be a particular highlight. This world-class ensemble delivered the work’s premiere at Coventry Cathedral in 1962; on June 25th, they’ll give a moving encore at St Paul’s.

Every year, the City of London Festival’s programme is rooted in a number of thought-provoking themes. One of 2013’s topics is the notion of a walled city and it’s set to be explored by a specially commissioned song-cycle entitled Trees, Walls, Cities. Premiering at Draper’s Hall on June 24th, the piece incorporates contributions from eight international composers and links London to other cities like Berlin, Jerusalem and Dubrovnik.

The festival’s run includes over 50 ticketed events and more than 100 free ones, so there’s lots to see and do if you’re staying in London hotels between June 23rd and July 16th. Even those just passing through the capital’s public spaces will encounter a number of temporary installations, including blue trees on the steps of St Paul’s and an extraordinary mobile orchard.

A full list of events can be found on the City of London Festival website.

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