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The Night Shift at the Roundhouse: Audience Reaction

Wed 16 May 2012

The Night Shift at the Roundhouse

Wow, it’s hard to believe that our show at the Roundhouse was almost 3 months ago now! We were there to kick off the 2012 Reverb festival, and we did it in style with a massive orchestra and Sir Mark Elder conducting Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet.

In this vid we catch up with some punters to find out what they thought of it, and also speak to Sir Mark about how it was for him – and violinist Kati reminds us that this particular event was not just classical music minus the rules, but also minus the brass section…

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Roundhouse: Pictures

Fri 13 Apr 2012

Here’s a selection of pictures from our event at the Roundhouse back in February, where we kicked off their Reverb Festival. View the full set on Facebook or Flickr. All pics are by Joe Plommer.

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Phew! (We’re taking a breather)

Mon 5 Mar 2012

It’s been a full on few months for The Night Shift.

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The mysterious case of the missing brass…

Fri 2 Mar 2012

As any of you who were at our Roundhouse show last week will no doubt be aware, towards the end of the concert we had a rather unusual hiccup.

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Roundhouse: Venue Profile

Fri 24 Feb 2012

This world renowned performing arts and concert venue has enjoyed a long and varied history.  In 1846, it began life as steam engine repair shed and soon after, became a warehouse for Ginbey’s Gin.  Having gained the status of a Grade 2 listed building, it remains a fabulous example of mid 19th century architecture, both elegant and robust with its cast and wrought iron framework and slate roof.

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Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)


Berlioz / The Man

His ‘enormous shock of light-brown hair, against the fantastic wealth of which the barber could do nothing’ reminds us that Berlioz was a Romantic to the core.  Despite a poor grasp of English (at best), he seems to have had something of a penchant for Blighty – he was obsessed by Shakespeare, and even more obsessed by Harriett Smithson, the Irish actress he eventually married.  In his youth, his life was full of passion, love and energy, however in his old age he cut a rather more pessimistic figure.  In 1865 he bluntly noted ‘All my musical undertakings are finished; I have no desire to do anything more.  And all I now do is to read, meditate, struggle against daily weariness, and suffer ceaseless agonies from incurable neuralgia.’

Berlioz / The Music

Underrated for too long, his music is currently undergoing a bit of a renaissance with an increasing number of pieces joining the already popuylar Symphonie Fantastique in concert programmes. The main source of his musical inspiration was Beethoven who had freed the symphony from its 18th century constraints.  Berlioz’s large-scale orchestral pieces are some of his most powerful, being at once intensely personal and brilliantly grandiose.  The inheritor of his musical legacy was undoubtedly Wagner.  The title page of Tristan and Isolde is inscribed:

To the dear and great author of
Romeo and Juliet
from the grateful author of
Tristan and Isolde

At the Night Shift at the Roundhouse we’re playing extracts from Romeo & Juliet, one of his most ambitious compositions whose lush, extravagant and even avant-garde nature pushes the Orchestra to its technical limits.

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Romeo & Juliet: Spotify playlist

Mon 20 Feb 2012

Our Night Shift at the Roundhouse is just 5 days away now – so to get you ready here’s a Spotify playlist of the music featured in the 9pm cocnert – orchestral highlights from Berlioz’s Romeo & Juliet.

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Speed Interview: Alistair Appleton

Fri 17 Feb 2012

In a week’s time we’ll be at the Roundhouse, opening their Reverb 2012 festival with a truly huge Night Shift. In advance of that we caught up with Night Shift presenter Alistair Appleton and put our speedy questions to him.

What/when was your big breakthrough?
Getting the hosting job on a live German TV show when I lived in Berlin. I had no TV experience, only the dogged and relentless confidence of the 20 year old.

What do you fear the most? 

Which mobile number do you call the most?
My boyfriend’s. When we’re not arguing…

What – or where – is perfection?
No such thing. It’s an evil device dreamt up by Platonists to keep us unhappy. Mess is perfect.

Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why?
Hagen from the Twilight of the Gods. I feel sorry for him.

What’s your favourite ritual?
Chenrezig. It’s a Tibetan Buddhist practice to generate compassion.

Which living person do you most admire (and why)?
Aung San Suu Kyi. I had to chat to her while she was waiting for a live news interview back in 1996. She radiated fierce respect and bravery down the phone line and I’ve admired her ever since.

What other talent or skill would you like to possess?
I would love to play the cello well enough to sight-read in a string quartet.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
There’s always more.

What is the most played piece of music on your MP3 player or in your CD collection?
(Let me check…) Well, surprisingly it’s Nikolai Demidenko playing a Busoni transcription of Bach’s organ fugue BWV532. How hilariously high-brow. I thought it might be Donna Summer’s States of Independence.

What’s the best thing about working with the OAE?
They glow from inside. And I feel it.

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The Night Shift at the Roundhouse: Trailer

Wed 15 Feb 2012

We’re returning to the legendary Roundhouse on 24 February following on from a fantastic show there two years ago. We’re kicking of the 2012 Reverb Festival with a massive gig that features over 80 musicians playing extracts from Berlioz’s lush and passionate Romeo & Juliet. Our trailer gives you an idea of what to expect. Find out more about the show here.

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Hector & Harriet: love, tragedy and the Bard

Wed 15 Feb 2012

It’s Valentine’s day (well it was when I wrote this…).  It can be a rather grim, over-commercialised affair, but in an attempt to redress the balance, I thought it would be worth taking a look at the romantic trials and tribulations of Hector Berlioz, one of the nineteenth century’s great composers.  He was a man whose deep-seated love for the Irish actress, Harriet Smithson, coloured his adult-life with both ecstasy and tragedy, and this is reflected in some of his finest music, including his ‘symphonie dramatique’, Roméo et Juliette, which The Night Shift brings to the Roundhouse on 24 February.

Shakespeare was a fundamental influence on Berlioz all his life – it was in his plays that Berlioz discovered ‘the meaning of real grandeur, real beauty, and real dramatic truth’.  However, it was also through Shakespeare that Miss Smithson was revealed to him.  He wrote that he could not compare the effect ‘produced by her….dramatic genius, on my imagination and heart’.

He first saw Smithson perform at the Odéon Theatre, Paris in 1827 as the ‘fair Ophelia’, and some months later he beheld her in Romeo and Juliet.  Contrary to Berlioz’s own recollection of seeing her as Juliet, it was reported in the Illustrated London News that on seeing her he exclaimed, ‘I will marry that woman! And I will write my greatest symphony on that play!’

He pursued Smithson for five years.  She never met him in this time, and never wrote a line in reply to his voluminous letters.  The first time she set eyes on him in another of her performances as Juliet, when Berlioz, so moved, ‘gave a loud cry and rushed out of the theatre, wildly wringing [his] hands.’  She was undoubtedly somewhat disturbed by this fit, and asked fellow actors to ensure he was kept at a distance, as ‘she did not like the look of [his] eyes’.  Her troupe removed to Amsterdam, leaving Berlioz to wallow in dejection, saying that, ‘even Shakespeare has never painted the horrible gnawing at the heart’ that he felt.

Berlioz’s friends long suffered his ravingsabout Harriet.  They complained that on walks through Paris he would ‘fill the unsympathetic boulevards and the adjacent streets with his love laments.’ Girard, a conductor and friend, wrote that ‘if it were anyone else, I would show him the door’.  Berlioz’s letters to friends betray his almost delirious state – ‘today it is a year since I saw HER for the last time.  Oh!  Unhappy woman!  How I loved you….trembling I write, HOW I LOVE YOU.’

Finally, in 1832, after hearing Berlioz’s Lélio, whose monologues make it clear the piece was intended for her, Harriet granted him an audience.  It took further months to convince her of his love – at one point he obtained a passport, threatening to quit Paris forever and move to Germany.  In a rather more extreme gesture, he staged a suicide attempt, the effect of which was to leave him vomiting for two hours owing to the quantity of opium he had ingested.  Nevertheless, after overcoming opposition from their families, they were wed in 1833.  Berlioz remembered that ‘on the day of our marriage she had nothing in the world but debts, and the fear of never again being able to appear to advantage on the stage.  My property consisted of […]

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February podcast: Roundhouse, Bach pushes buttons & Pod Idol

Fri 10 Feb 2012

Our latest Podcast is now out, and focuses our two upcoming big events at the Roundhouse and Southbank Centre.
We hear from top conductor Sir Mark Elder who tells us about Berlioz’s incredible version of Romeo & Juliet which we’ll play at the Roundhouse on 24 Feb, kicking off the Reverb 2012 Festival. Plus Roundhouse Head Honcho Marcus Davey tells us about this iconic building.

On 4 March we’re back at Southbank Centre for a Night Shift as part of the London 2012 Festival. We’ll be featuring Bach and director Laurence Cummings tells us why Bach will push your buttons…

Plus there’s audience reaction from the first pub gig at the George Tavern and information on the return of Pod Idol, your chance to the voice of the Night Shift podcasts.

Happy listening!
The Night Shift February 2012 Podcast by The Night Shift

(For those that prefer it the podcast will be available on itunes next week…)

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Pub Tour: Sold Out

Thu 9 Feb 2012

Night Shift Pub Tour image

Yes, if you’ve not got your tickets yet then we’re afraid it’s too late. Remaining dates in Soho and Angel are now completely sold out and there will be NO tickets on the door (aside from any tickets that get returned) due to very high advance sales.

BUT – you can still experience The Night Shift on a bigger scale at our Roundhouse (24 Feb) and Southbank Centre (4 March) gigs, for which there are tickets still left.

The reponse to the pub tour has been phenomenal and we’re pretty sure pub gigs will be back…

Thanks for all your support!

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Announcing the Night Shift pub tour

Thu 8 Dec 2011

Night Shift Pub Tour image

Yes! After exhaustive research of London’s finest drinking establishments (and thank you for all your brilliant suggestions), we now have five fabulous venues lined up and are ready to announce our Night Shift pub tour. We’ve managed to touch all points of the compass, with the bonus of a dead-central venue too (It’s more of a bar than pub but we hope you’ll forgive us that).

The list of venues and dates is below and you’ll find all the events listed in our ‘Whats on’ section, but the format of each event is the same. We’ll have two live sets, at 8.30pm and 9.30pm, with DJ sets between and afterwards. Each event is introduced by Jon Jacob, and the musicians at each will be very familiar to you if you were at our event back in September; Maggie Faultless and Matthew Truscott on violins and Robin Michael on cello. For every event advance tickets are £6, or on the door they’re £10. If you’re a student they’re just £4 – but remember to bring ID!

All the venues are special in some way – we’ll be telling you more about each of them in the coming weeks, with a little feature on each. We have two programmes of music. Best of British features the music of Henry Purcell, whose stuff was such a hit last time around. The programme will include drinking songs, for which we’ll expect full audience participation (i.e. both drinking and singing). The second programme is Best of the rest – music of all the famous continentals that either made London their home or whose music was massively popular here. One of the composers featured is Martini, which is rather appropriate…

Here are the events and dates:

31 Jan: The George Tavern, Stepney. Best of British
1 Feb: Amersham Arms, New Cross. Best of the rest
7 Feb: The Paradise, Kensal Rise. Best of British
21 Feb: Green Carnation, Soho. Best of the rest
22 Feb: Old Queens Head, Angel. Best of British

And of course don’t forget that this all builds up to our massive event at the Roundhouse on 24 Feb! This is closely followed by our all-Bach Night Shift at our usual (but lovely) Southbank Centre home on 4 March, which, excitingly, is part of the London 2012 Festival.

Last word goes to all our amazing Night Shift pub tour crowdfunders whose generosity made the whole thing happen – thank you!

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The Night Shift at Reverb 2012

Thu 13 Oct 2011

We’re very excited to announce that The Night Shift will be returning to the Roundhouse in Camden as part of their 2012 Reverb festival on 24 February 2012.

After a sell-out performance at Reverb 2010, The Night Shift returns to the Roundhouse to open this year’s festival with one of our most ambitious projects to date. The 90 piece Orchestra conducted by one of the legends of the classical music world, Sir Mark Elder, will recreate the raw and revolutionary sounds of 19th century Paris in Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet. All in the radical and contemporary atmosphere of The Night Shift– classical music: minus the rules.

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