Fulham orchestra stars perform Varese at the Barbican

Musicians from the Fulham Symphony Orchestra have been been chosen by the BBC to perform at an event celebrating the work of pioneering composer Edgard Varèse.

The FSO – who regularly perform at Hammersmith Town Hall – will play two works by the cult composer in a special concert at the Barbican on Saturday 6 May.

The event is part of the BBC’s Total Immersion Day exploring the life of French-American composer Varese, whose work in the first half of the 20th Century remains influential today.


French-American composer Varese

The Barbican venue will host talks, films and a concert performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra throughout the day.

FSO chair Sharon Robinson said the group was ‘delighted’ to be involved. “The players are excited to be involved in such a unique event and it is an honour to be involved with an orchestra such as BBC SO,” she said. “The entire output of the composer, Varese, can be played in three hours and this festival is a celebration of his unusual and controversial work.”

During the FSO’s performance – which takes place at 6.15pm in the Barbican’s Foyer and is free to attend – the musicians will play two strikingly different pieces, led by conductor Marc Dooley.

Ecuatorial was written in 1933 and uses both acoustic instruments and electronic sound. 

It includes two ondes Martenot, an electronic keyboard newly invented in 1928, and Sharon explained that the FSO had to bring in some specialist players to join the group’s regular brass and percussion musicians.

Meanwhile, the FSO will also perform Dance for Burgess, with around 45 musicians playing the chamber ensemble that was written in 1948.

“Varese is a unique and pioneering composer and used unusual instruments and combinations of instruments in his works,” added Sharon.

The orchestra is also set to record the two pieces at the BBC Maida Vale studios, ahead of a musical broadcast on Radio Three later in the year.

To find out more about the BBC Total Immersion Day: Edgard Varese, visit fso.org.uk or barbican.org.uk.

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