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Looking to the Futures with the London Symphony Orchestra

21 March, 2019 — By Michael White

David Lang

CONTEMPORARY music tends to scare off audiences, but it’s not always painful. There are proven instances where it could almost be called fun. And an example comes at the Barbican this week where the London Symphony Orchestra is running its annual Futures festival of all things new.

Turn up at 6pm on Sunday and you’ll find the foyers packed with 500 people who’ve volunteered to take part in the UK premiere of a dazzling surround-sound piece by American composer David Lang, appropriately called the public domain.

And all day Monday – from 10am to 6pm – there’s an entirely free event along the road at LSO St Luke’s, near Old Street tube, in which young composers on the orchestra’s Panufnik scheme (named after the celebrated Polish émigré composer) get the chance to hear their music work-shopped by the LSO under conductor Francois-Xavier Roth.

For the audience it’s a rare opportunity to experience what goes on behind the scenes when conductors, composers and players come together to turn written ideas into practical sounds.

And being both free and informal, if you don’t like what you get, you can always leave. Not a bad deal.

• Sunday March 24, Barbican, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS, 6pm, from £16,

• Monday March 25, LSO St Luke’s, 161 Old Street, EC1V 9NG, morning sessions 10-1.30pm; afternoons 2.30-6pm, free but booking essential,

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