Hot LSO Music Picks this June – Lunchtime Concerts and Other Events across the City

Nicole R.Nolan

Well, June has suddenly arrived (even though it feels as if it were only December yesterday) and the Summer Solstice is due to come round on the 21st. If there were ever a season more suited to the enjoyment of music, it is summer: fair weather, long balmy evenings, and the sweet sound of instruments played with professional flourish. Magical. To this end, the London Symphony Orchestra has some events not to be missed this month. Here are One City’s hot picks for aural pleasure.

1. Thomas Bartlett + Nico Muhly: Peter Pears – Balinese Ceremonial Music, 8th June, 8pm to 10pm (Jerwood Hall, LSO St. Luke’s)

Part of the LSO St. Luke’s Guest Artist series, the evening sees/hears nine new duo piano compositions, inspired by Colin McPhee’s transcriptions of Balinese music. McPhee was “the first composer to seriously study the music of Java and Bali, producing a number of transcriptions for two pianos that reimagined the gamelan for Western ears”. Barlett and Muhly have reimagined McPhee’s music for the 21st Century, an album which took 10 years to complete. Tickets £25/£30.

2. Bach Weekend – Violin Sonatas, 16th June, 11am to 12pm (Jerwood Hall, LSO St. Luke’s)

A continuation of the LSO St. Luke’s Guest Artists series, violinist Isabelle Faust is joined by harpsichordist Kristian Bezuidenhout in playing Bach’s Sonata No 1 in B minor, BWV1014, Sonata No 3 for violin and harpsichord in E major, BWV 1016 and Sonata No 6 for violin and harpsichord in G major, BWV 1019. Faust will also perform the solo Partita in D minor, BWV 1004 and Bezuidenhout the Toccata in D minor, BWV 913. Expect the combination of their artistic forces to “be rooted in a deep and sincere fidelity to one overriding ideal: letting Bach speak”. Tickets £17.50.

3. Laura Cannell – Modern Ritual, 16th June, 7.30pm to 9.30pm (Jerwood Hall, LSO St. Luke’s)

Also part of the LSO St. Luke’s Guest Artists series, experimental musician Cannell here explores “the idea of ritual through music and words” to the point of subversion, Cannell playing “two recorders simultaneously and deconstructing her violin to create otherworldly soundscapes”. The drummer Charles Hayward also presents a 30 minute snare drum roll and electronic composer Hoofus brings to the evening “music of eerie wonder, where oscillating melodic loops meld with distorted rhythms”. Talks will finish the evening. Tickets £15.

4. Gianandrea Noseda & Nicola Benedetti, 24th June, 7pm to 9pm (Barbican Hall)

Benedetti performs Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in the first half under Noseda’s guidance, the latter conducting the LSO through the composer’s Symphony No.10 in the second half. Both pieces present alternative reactions to life in Russia under Stalin – the concerto hidden until his death and the symphony in response to that death. An immensely difficult concerto, expect “vast reserves of emotional stamina and enormous technical skills” from Benedetti. Tickets from £15 to £55.

5. Free Outdoor Lunchtime Music, 29th June, 1.15pm to 2pm (Front Lawn, LSO St. Luke’s)

Part of the LSO’s Inside Out music series, these events are obviously weather permitting, but it is free to go along and there is even no need to book in advance. Here, listen to a dectet of young brass musicians from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama while you nibble a picnic lunch. How refined.


Secret Gardens of the City – Open Gardens Weekend 2018

Nicole R.Nolan

The City of London – that most renowned of urban spaces – is revealing its hidden gems of greenery once more over the weekend of 9th and 10th June as Open Gardens returns for another year. A limited opportunity to stroll around verdant gems usually closed off from the public at large, these private and little-known oases dotting the cityscape are a delight not to be missed (and will no doubt serve to inspire your own green-fingered endeavours, no matter the size of garden).

Caroline Aldiss came up with the concept of opening up the hidden gardens of the capital 20 years ago, and with help from English Heritage and the London Parks and Gardens Trust 43 gardens in all took part in the very first London Garden Square Day back in 1998. A community event with a focus on conservation, since then Open Gardens has revealed “rooftops, in allotments and behind schools, shops, institutions and cafes” and unlocked “the private gardens of historic buildings and institutions”. The weekend really is something special for Nature-appreciative urbanites and tourists alike.

New gardens being opened up this year in the City include Cannon Bridge Roof Gardens (Cannon Street station), kept in shape throughout the year by Paul Burnage of Grasshopper Displays gardening contractors. Burnage will be giving talks over the weekend as well.

Favourites of recent past years are once again opening up as well, including Beech Gardens in the Barbican Estate (accessible by St. Paul’s or Farringdon station over the weekend; the Barbican will be non-operational). Here, modern horticulture blends with Grade II-listed architecture, developed by Professor Nigel Dunnett and including 22,000 herbaceous plants. Interestingly, 14 new and multi-stemmed trees have now been added to the layout as well.

Another roof garden not to be missed sits at the very top of law firm Eversheds’ building in the heart of the City (Bank or St. Paul’s tube). The views from Eversheds Sutherland Roof Garden are spectacular, there is beekeeping (overseeing the care of two hives) and talks on such, and there is also a cake sale with tea and coffee to boot. How much more quintessentially English country could one ask for amid the urban jungle that is the City of London?

If, however, history is what you seek when discovering usually hidden gems of greenery, then Drapers’ Hall Garden is the pick for you (Bank, Liverpool Street, or Moorgate station). Part of the upper section of the original historic garden purchased by the Drapers’ Company from King Henry VIII in 1543, the current garden is as it was shaped in 2014 in celebration of the company’s 650th anniversary of the grant of its first charter by King Edward III in 1364. There is also a particularly lovely tradition of fruit-bearing trees within the garden (there are currently five Mulberry trees).

Over 20 gardens are open in the City proper (with 200 open across London as a whole). What better excuse for a soul-calming outdoors snoop do you need?

Children under 11 years old go free and Early Bird prices apply if you purchase a weekend ticket before 7th June (12-18 years £8; students £12; adults £15).

Aperol Big Spritz Social at Shoreditch Electric Light Station

Nicole R.Nolan

If you’re a fan of Italy’s iconic orange bittersweet aperitif, then make sure you head over to Shoreditch’s Electric Light Station between 31st May and 9th June for Aperol’s Big Spritz Social event. A perfect summer drink celebration, “Lightly alcoholic, zesting orange with appealing complex herbal scents harmonized with a touch of vanilla” – who needs the Italian Riviera when you have Aperol in London, eh? Oh, and take along a friend.

Bringing “the Italian spirit of spontaneity to Shoreditch”, the Aperol Big Spritz Social wants Londoners to head to its event as a precursor to a good night out (unless you go on one of the two Saturdays – those should be nights out enough in themselves). As the company explains, “Its orange is unmistakable, a vibrant colour that lights up your toasts and adds extra joy to the moment”. And what better a place to enjoy its bubbles than at Shoreditch Electric Light Station?

Shoreditch Electric Light Station is a unique venue. Originally an electric generating station in 1896, this industrial space is ripe for hire for multiple types of events, with its individual studios, and the Combustion and Generating chambers, available throughout the year. Also home to the National Centre for Circus Arts, both creative artists and businesses alike utilise the Victorian building’s unusual breadth of space.

How do you fancy rowing the “Aperol orange” canal bathed in ‘sunshine’? Too energetic? Then, why not try a spot of shade in the pergola, finished off with a delightfully childish whizz down the slide? Indeed, that recapturing of one’s youth can be had also in a carousel ride, no ever-so-slightly creepy fairground music in the background, but rather a marvellous, ear-pleasing DJ set and – of course – a deliciously refreshing glass of Aperol Spritz firmly in hand.

Don’t worry about hunger, either. Traditionally, such aperitifs are served (at least in Veneto) with cicchetti; a bit like tapas, these can include olives, miniscule sandwiches, and equally tiny servings of local dishes. To this end, Arancina will be providing aperitivo during the event (included in the ticket price).

Created through seven years’ hard experimentation between 1912 and 1919 by the Barbieri brothers after they inherited a liqueur factory from their father, Aperol quickly became a popular social drink in Italy, but it wasn’t until 1950 that Aperol Spritz was developed (that decade also saw the first Aperol commercial air on television). By the 1980s, Aperol and Aperol Spritz were internationally known and consumed. Acquired by Gruppo Campari in the millennium, Aperol’s popularity only increased, right up until the present day.

Given this popularity, pre-paid tickets are sold out, but on-the-door Walk Up tickets are available from 7.30pm to 9.30pm each day (£10; two for £18; four for £34). Opening times are 6pm to 10pm every day, and 10pm to 12pm as well on both Saturdays. Two glasses of Aperol Spritz and a selection of aperitivo provided by Arancina are included in the price. Additional Aperol Spritz are £6 each.

These Famous Historic People were born/lived in the City


These Famous Historic People were born/lived in the City

While many of us mainly think of the City as a place where people go to work, back in the day – say, around 300 years ago – it was pretty much all London consisted of. There are lots of guided tours that offer a peek inside the City during different periods, offering insights of London during the Tutor reign as well as in the Victorian era. And we’ve also given away some of our secrets to exploring history in the City right here. In this article, we’d like to take a slightly different approach, however: with the City being the cultural heart for poets, politicians and other artists, what famous historic people were actually born or once lived in the City? Let’s take a look.

Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)

Johnson was an English writer who in his heydays was considered a leading figure in the world of English poetry and literature. He was the son of a bookseller and born in Lichfield, but moved to London in 1737. Allegedly, he’s had a total of 18 London residences in his life, out of which no. 17 Gough Square (now a writer’s museum called Dr Johnson’s House) is the only one to have survived. Johnson was a big fan of city life, even claiming that “you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to live London, as when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”

Samuel Pepys house

Samuel Pepys (1633-1703)

Mainly known for the diary he kept as a young member of the parliament between 1660 and 1696, Pepys worked as an administrator of the navy of England. His published diary, including personal experiences and first-hand observations of important events, is still considered a key source of the English Restoration period. Pepys was born at Salisbury Court, in the heart of the City.

John Keats house

John Keats (1795-1821) 

At Moorgate no. 85, you’ll find this blue plaque, an official memorial for English poet John Keats. Not much else is known about the time and place in which he was born, but what we do know is that, during his very short life, he was seen as a key figure of English Romantic poetry. His career was remarkable, with an oeuvre that was small yet incredibly innovative and original. Not a typical Romantic poet (he often received criticism for being vulgar and incongruous), but instead a perfect example of the young, unfortunate poet. Between 1818 and 1820, near his final years, Keats lived in a villa in Hampstead, which now houses a beautiful museum on his fascinating career.

Gresham College Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke (1635 – 1703)

As one of the architects responsible for rebuilding the City after the Great Fire, Robert Hooke more than deserves a spot on this list. Originally a scientist, Hooke was a teacher of geometry at St. Gresham’s College near Chancery Lane, which was also his residence. Just six months after the Great Fire he, together with leading man Wren and a small number of architects was asked to rebuild the entire City.

Where to (quietly) enjoy the sun in the City


As the sun is finally entering our lives again, we gradually start spending more and more time outside. Whether it’s a quick pint on the terrace or a cocktail with a view: a bit of sunshine can make even your most favourite drink more enjoyable. The only challenge is … that you’re not the only one who’s been longing for this moment all year. With about 9 million Londoners and some 300,000 people commuting to and fro the Square Mile every day, things in the City can get pretty damn busy. That’s why we’ve sought out some places where you can go to (relatively quietly) soak up some sun.

fenchurch terrace view

Fenchurch Terrace – Though the magnificent glass dome alone is reason enough to climb all 37 levels of the famous walkie-talkie, its panoramic sky garden also happens to be one of our favourite open-air lounges in the City. Containing beautiful gardens, observation decks and, of course, a wide and spacious terrace, the top of 20 Fenchurch St offers a relaxing escape from the city crowd. For an exclusive drink in the sun, pop by the elegant Fenchurch Terrace where fine wines and delicious bar snacks are served every evening until 10 pm.

coqdargent terrace

Coq D’Argent Roof Gardens – Another exciting rooftop can be found at no. 1 Poultry St. Slap-bang in the middle of the City, the (partly) covered and heated rooftop terraces at Coq D’Argent look out on London highlights including Tower Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral. What’s more, the surrounding green lawns will give you a proper countryside feeling (fancy cocktails included), and thanks to the large number of cosy corners it’s easy to find yourself a quiet spot.

Outside Terrace at City Boot – As sunny terraces are hard to find in the City, this is a real winner. Located on Moorgate Highwalk, this traditional wine bar offers a wide range of outside seating spaces, with the best spots being on the separate south-facing terrace. The wine selection is fine, including everything from light and aromatic white to sparkling and full-bodied red. A wonderful place to catch some vitamin D right in the heart of the City.

bleeding heart bistro

Bleeding Heart’s cobbled courtyard – On the cusp of the City and Farringdon lies this cute little bistro, along with an excellent and incredibly peaceful terrace. As the story goes, the courtyard owes its name to the tragedy of Lady Elizabeth Hatton, who was brutally murdered here by her lover some four hundred years ago. The historic courtyard also makes an appearance in Dickens’ novel Little Dorrit. A rich history as well as a cosy terrace to enjoy those rare days of sun: what more does a Londoner want?


The Angler roof – Those looking for a culinary treat to go with their sunshine will be well off on the Angler Terrace. Belonging to the Michelin-starred seafood restaurant, the food here is phenomenal and the terrace’s altitude makes for a quiet and relaxing atmosphere. Open from noon to 11 pm from Monday to Friday and 5 to 11 pm on Saturday.