Michael White’s classical news: LSO in Trafalgar Square; Highgate Festival; Temple Music

Thursday, 9th June — By Michael White

Trafalgar Square concert

The LSO will leave home for Trafalgar Square on Saturday

STOPPING the traffic is, in figurative terms, the kind of thing the London Symphony Orchestra does all the time – being, as it is, one of the world’s leading ensembles and routinely giving concerts that are anything but routine: they stand out like milestones on the musical roadmap.

Once a year, though, it stops traffic literally, when the orchestra decamps from the Barbican to play Trafalgar Square: under open skies, for free, and pulling an audience of thousands – as it will again this Saturday, June 11, with a programme that includes everybody’s favourite younger-generation cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason (looking different these days now he’s changed his trademark Afro hair to something sharper) playing works by Bruch and Bloch.

Simon Rattle (whose trademark hair remains shaggy as ever) conducts. And for some of the concert, the LSO will absorb into its ranks a batch of young musicians from east London, enjoying the kind of opportunity to rub shoulders with musical royalty that I’d have died for when I was a young musician from east London (admittedly a while ago).

It starts at 5pm but arrive early for a good place, and with weather-proof clothes if necessary (there’s no shelter). There’s no booking either, but practical details at lso.co.uk

The music element in this year’s Highgate Festival starts June 11 with a Lauderdale House concert by Vince Pope, the film and TV composer whose music crosses the classical/popular divide. On June 12, also at Lauderdale, there’s palm-court music from the charmingly eccentric Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra. Lunchtime on June 14, Lauderdale again, pianist Stephen Hose plays Mozart and Lennox Berkeley. And on June 14 the esteemed London Mozart Players come to St Michael’s, Highgate, with pianist Ariel Lanyi, to play Mozart, Shostakovich and Dvorak.

But one thing I particularly commend (not least because I’m involved with it!) is the evening concert on June 14 called A Tale of Two Governesses. It features star soprano Verity Wingate who this summer takes the lead role of the Governess in Benjamin Britten’s ghost-opera Turn of the Screw at Garsingon. And she’ll be singing music – Mozart, Handel, Purcell, Britten – associated with the soprano for whom the role of the Governess was first written back in the 1950s, Jennifer Vyvyan.

Vyvyan died young, but she was local to north London. Her family still live in Highgate. And the story of her career, and close connections with Britten, will be told not just through music but in words. From me. Accompanied by the lauded pianist Alisdair Hogarth, it runs at St Michael’s, Highgate, 7.30pm start. Details of all events: highgatefestival.org

• The Temple Music series is, if nothing else, a chance to see inside some of the fascinating buildings in the cloistered legal enclave that’s the Temple, off Fleet Street. But the music isn’t to be sniffed at either. And the season is busy this month, with the Holst Singers and conductor Stephen Layton on June 14, and celebrity soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek with doyen of collaborative pianists Julius Drake on June 16. Seriously classy. templemusic.org

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