February 8, 2013 1 Comment
As much as I love the buzz about Tech City, the fact remains that London has had a long established tradition of enterprise, and for a long time, many great technology and science advances came out of East London, although it has not been plain sailing. With that in mind, I went along to a musical depiction of East London which was part of the Water City Festival via an invitation from Lord Andrew Mawson, chairman of the festival and one of the UK’s leading social entrepreneurs; Andrew and I are working on a number of really cool things to connect up schools and enterprises at the moment, so again, this was very much part of connecting up the dots.
In the same way that much of the Roman Empire’s success owed a great deal to the port Ostia, the British Empire was very much built upon the seas and London’s waterways were a key part of that. Anyone that meets Andrew will highlight that the likes of Michael Faraday, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, William Congreve and others all spent time in East London in the 18th-19th centuries and that there was a huge amount of vibrancy in the docks areas of London. Perhaps the last hundred years has not been that kind, but East London is certainly enjoying a period of massive regeneration, buoyed by London 2012.
The concert itself at Queen Mary University sought to follow this same course, charting the themes of Illumination, Immigration, Pioneers of Imagination, Demise, Resurrection, Reinvention. Starting with the Karelia Suite by Sibelius (illumination), the musical programme then followed with a traditional Bangladeshi raga sung by Akash Sottar (immigration), the Danse macabre by Saint-Saens with Michael Bochmann performing as the soloist (pioneers of imagination), Debussy’s La cathedrale engloutie (resurrection) and finishing with the wonderful Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky (reinvention). The orchestra itself had only been working together for the weekend, comprising of staff and students of the university as well as many East Londoners under the conductorship Rupert Bond and Michael Bochmann.