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Luigi Boccherini (1743 – 1805)


Luigi Boccherini/The Man

Born in the Tuscan city of Lucca in 1743, Boccherini studied the cello in Rome and soon joined his Double Bassist father and musical siblings in several tours around Europe – a bit like a classical music version of the Jackson Five really. When his father died, the young Luigi spent some time in Paris before the City of Romance worked its magic and he fell in love with a soprano – bringing him to Spain. Whilst there Boccherini landed Royal patronage, only to be later sacked for failing to act on some constructive criticisms of his compositions. Though he would go on to be supported by a string of other wealthy patrons, his good times didn’t last. At the time of his death in 1805, he was living in Madrid in near-poverty, having lost many of those nearest to him.

Luigi Boccherini/The Music

Much of Boccherini’s music owes a lot to Haydn in its structure- he was known popularly as ‘Haydn’s wife’, but Boccherini was also known for giving his starring roles to the cello.  He wrote around 141 string quintets alone (music for two violins, viola and a cello) and the quintet you’ll hear this evening-  his “Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid” might sound familiar- it was in the 2003 film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

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Domenico Dragonetti (1763 -1846)


Domenico Dragonetti/ The Man

Aside from the fantastic name, Dragonetti was an amazing double bassist. Born to a barber and amateur musician in 1763, he hailed from Venice and incredibly had mastered the double bass at the tender age of 12 and was appointed principal player at the Opera Buffa in Venice the following year.

Dragonetti rose to fame by playing solo pieces (über-unusual at the time) at the Chapel of San Marco in Treviso, as well as playing and composing for royalty and directing festivals.  He finally moved to London in 1794 to play in the King’s Theatre Orchestra where he also waxed lyrical about the double bass to Haydn and Beethoven.

Dragonetti loved the fine arts and collected musical instruments and scores, as well as a slightly more unusual collection: he apparently travelled with small dolls that he brought along to his concerts as an ‘audience’, even introducing one as his wife- but don’t quote us on that!   He died at his Leicester Square home at 83.

Domenico Dragonetti/ The Music

Dragonetti was probably best known for developing the double bass line as a separate entity- before this, the instrument usually imitated the cello part.

Not content with this, he also developed the Dragonetti bow- an Italian bow which puts the springiest part of the bow in the middle of the stick, giving more energy to the sound.

Yes, it might look a bit like a hacksaw but definitely doesn’t make a noise like one, as you’ll hear on the night.

Dragonetti wrote an instruction book for double bass which was unfortunately sold and lost but much of his music still remains in the British Library, including concertos, twelve waltzes for solo double bass and a bass quintet for violin, 2 violas and a cello.

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Caption competition: Win Night Shift tickets

Tue 7 Aug 2012

The pic below was taken at the beautiful Spiegeltent we played in last week. It rather lends itself to interesting comments…

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Sarah McMahon: Speed Interview

Tue 7 Aug 2012

Cellist Sarah McMahon is making her Night Shift debut with us on Thursday at the Greenwich Summer Festival so we asked her a few questions about how she got into music and why everyone should come to the event on 9 August!

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The Night Shift at the Little Top: audience reaction

Mon 6 Aug 2012

This must be one of the fastest video turn-around’s ever! Here’s footage from our event at the Greenwich Summer Festival last week, plus audience reaction to the show.

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Liz Kenny: Speed Interview

Wed 1 Aug 2012

We caught up with theorbo/lute player Liz Kenny to ask a few questions…

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The Night Shift July podcast

Wed 1 Aug 2012

Yes, we know, there’s already loads going on in London at the moment, what with that small sporting-thingy happening, but why not take a break from all the nail-biting, nerve-wracking events and chill out in a tent with the OAE and a pint?

Our latest Night Shift podcast looks at our upcoming tent-based events in Greenwich and Blackheath on 1 August (Spiegeltent at the Lewisham Big Screen) and 2 & 9 August (Little Top at the Greenwich Summer Festival).

We feature interviews with the leaders of the events, Maggie Faultless (violin) and Chi-chi Nwanoku (double bass) plus Cimeon Ellerton from Lewisham Council and Cass Briggs from Little Top, Greenwich talk about the ‘in-tents’ choice of venues- see what we did there?!

Full info on the events can be found here and don’t forget, the first one is tonight!

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Emma Walshe: Speed Interview

Wed 25 Jul 2012

Soprano Emma Walshe is appearing in our Night Shift events next week, on 1 August in Blackheath and 2 August in Greenwich. We caught up with her for the latest instalment in our speed interview series.

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Night Shift nosh…

Tue 24 Jul 2012

Having lived in South-East London for five years now, I guess I can call myself a bit of a local now and I’m often found at weekends stuffing my face at Greenwich Market or going for a Sunday run round Blackheath.  So, for all of you people lucky enough to be coming to our late-night series The Night Shift next month- which is making its debut in both Blackheath and Greenwich, I thought I’d give you my picks of the best places to go for a cheeky drink or meal in the area-  why not make a real night of it?


Zero Degrees £ A great micro-brewery with a huge selection of drinks and food (including some very good Moules Mariniere
Buenos Aires Café ££  The best steak in South-East London
Chapters £££  A bit pricey, but worth it- fantastic service and good set menu
Saffron Club £ Delicious Indian and Nepalese cuisine- quick service too!
Locale ££ Laid back and welcoming Italian restaurant with very good gnocchi

There’s also some chain restaurants including Pizza Express, Bella Vista, Strada, Giraffe and Café Rouge- all fairly cheap- and I definitely recommend the Princess of Wales pub- just a 3 minute walk from the Spiegeltent.

The Hill ££ Mediterranean restaurant just up the road from Greenwich Station with huge plates of pasta
Café Sol £ Buzzing Mexican restaurant with dangerously good cocktails
Inside restaurant ££ Sublime food- go for the cheaper set menu
Big Red Pizza  £ Pizza in a converted big red bus- awesome

Old Naval College Brewery  It’s in the Greenwich Summer Festival grounds- so no excuses!
Greenwich Union Amazing choice of over 60 beers from the local Meantime Brewery
The Guildford Arms Fantastic pub food and stunning beer garden

Again, lots of chain restaurant options, including Pizza Express, Café Rouge and a proper pie and mash shop: Goddard’s- definitely worth a look if you’re making a day of it in Greenwich.  Enjoy!


Full details on all Night Shift events and booking can be found here.

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Night Shift Spotify playlists now online

Mon 23 Jul 2012

We’ve put together a couple of Spotify playlists in advance of our summer events on 1,2 & 9 August…enjoy them below.

Full details of events can be found here.

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The Night Shift…in a tent?

Wed 18 Jul 2012

Ahead of our Night Shift summer events in Blackheath on 1 August, and Greenwich on 2 & 9 August we ventured into South London and asked the locals what they thought of classical music…watch the video to find what they said.

Our summer events are the perfect way to convince those classical sceptics as well as being a great, and unusual, night out for Night Shift regulars.  On 1 and 2 August we have four musicians from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment led by Maggie on violin, who you may remember from our pub tour. They are joined by soprano Emma Walshe for two live sets of music from London including music by Purcell.

On 9 August we celebrate the Double-Bass with a concert led by the energetic double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku, with sets featuring music by Mozart.

These are close-up, intimate and informal events, presented from the stage by Jon Jacob, and the baris  open throughout.

Full details and booking info can be found here.

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More summer events just added

Wed 20 Jun 2012

We’ve just announced two further events this summer: 2 and 9 August at the Greenwich Summer Festival. They’re both in the intimate Little Top venue, and will be pub-scale gigs.

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