The stage is set for the City of London Festival’s Golden Jubilee

This years City of London Festival, which takes place between the 24th June-27th July, is celebrating its 50th anniversary of enriching the capital’s cultural life. It has just announced further premieres and performances to an already packed programme of more than 155 events that will take place on over 55 spectacular venues across London during the 34 days of the festival.

The theme of this years festival is ‘City of London-Trading Places with the World and will be brought to life thanks to the performances from internationally renowned stars is some of the most historical and iconic locations in London.

The festival kicks off in style with 300 free piano lessons being given in one day on 50 golden pianos that will be placed on the streets across the square mile and will remain there for the duration of the festival. These lessons, on the 24th June, require no advance booking, simply turn up to tinkle the ivories.

New highlights announced

Adding to the wealth of world première performances of new music and dance including ‘Delphic Bee’ by composer Tansy Davies for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, a landmark piece performed by English National Ballet in St Paul’s Cathedral and Sir Colin Davis, performing Berlioz’s colossal work Grande Messe des Morts will be:

English National Ballet performs two new commissions for the Festival by Antony

Dowson and Van Le Ngoc, together with excerpts from the lost treasure of the Ballets

Russes, Suite en Blanc, at St Paul’s Cathedral (3 July).

Violin sensation, Tasmin Little, will be performing alongside the internationally acclaimed pianist Martin Roscoe at the Plaisterers’ Hall (11 July).

The première of Golden Fanfare by Francisco Coll for the LSO Brass and commissioned by the Goldsmiths’ Company will take place at Goldsmiths’ Hall (27 June).

Gold Medal winners from the renowned Tchaikovsky Competition and Queen Elisabeth Music Competition of Brussels, the cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan and pianist Denis Kozhukhin will make their London recital debut together at Merchant Taylors’ Hall (9 July).

A series of eight early evening concerts featuring the BBC’s New Generation Artists, all to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 (see for performance dates).

Six free concerts in Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf, featuring Jamaica’s first lady of Jazz Myrna Hague, drum ‘n’ bass, soul and the opportunity to celebrate Bastille Day (13 – 15 July).

Performance of Rafael Bonachela’s dance duet specially created for the 50 Golden Street Pianos, set to new music by Mercury Prize-nominee, Gwilym Simcock and danced by Sydney Dance Company (27 – 29 June).

12 free lunchtime concerts in the City’s beautiful churches, performed by the Guildhall School’s finest emerging musicians – encouraging City workers to reclaim their lunch hour and enjoy the beauty of the City.

Standout events already included in the Golden Jubilee programme include:

The London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Colin Davis, performing Berlioz’s colossal work Grande Messe des Morts in St Paul’s Cathedral. (25 & 26 June).

The Brodsky Quartet performing a unique programme with a quirky twist: ‘The Wheel of Four Tunes’, with four works selected at random by the spin of a wheel onstage, from 40 choices, celebrating 40 years of the Brodsky Quartet. (2 July).

Internationally-acclaimed guitarist John Williams, who will commemorate the Festival’s jubilee year by giving a recital echoing the performance he gave at the first City of London Festival in 1962. (10 July).

Live music sculptures at Tower Bridge and Monument, created specifically for the two icons by composer Samuel Bordoli. At Tower Bridge, guests can watch musicians play along the length of the high-level west walkway, 42 metres above the Thames. At The Monument, the music will travel up its 311 steps, inviting the audience to experience an aural and actual sense of ascension as they climb the stairs to the very top. (8 July).

The Festival’s commitment to supporting work for disabled and non-disabled performers continues.  New work by composer Nigel Osborne will receive its world première by tetraplegic former trumpeter, Clarence Adoo, on his specially-designed new Headspace instrument which has enabled him to perform once again with fellow professionals. Christian Lindberg’s award-winning Dawn at Galamanta, created and performed by Swedish artists of all physicalities, receives its UK première at the Guildhall (both 6 July).

Each event and performance acts as a new instalment in the story of the City, taking the audience on an international journey that connects back to London’s heart.

Sustainability remains a core part of the Festival’s programme, with flowers in the spotlight for 2012. The Festival will be promoting and nurturing wildflowers across the Square Mile, providing vital support for the City’s population of pollinators. The public will be invited to feast on City honey taken from the Festival’s roof-top beehives, as well as celebrate urban flowers, at the Festival’s closing event in Paternoster Square (27 July).

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City of London Festival Director Ian Ritchie said: “The Festival was first created to revitalise the cultural life of the City, and in 2012, as we celebrate our Golden Jubilee, it is ranked among the finest cultural celebrations in the world.  Words about the Festival from Sir Frederick Hoare, the Lord Mayor of London in 1962 and the Festival’s first President, have a powerful resonance today as to the Festival’s purpose:

“Amidst a period of the worship of Mammon, this Festival is trying to show many things that are beautiful and inspired in the arts, in the setting of this our most historic capital, and perhaps by doing so release man for a while and remind him that there are other things than those entirely material.”

“The insight of these words still ring true for the Festival today – 50 years later – and it is in this spirit that our programme for 2012 not only looks back with pride over the achievements of the past half century but also looks forward to the next 50 years.”

The Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of the City of London, and City of London Festival President, Alderman David Wootton said: “The City of London Festival is a fantastic celebration of the City’s arts and culture.  We boast one of the most diverse, influential and talented art sectors in the world – at the forefront of music, performance and craftsmanship. The Festival is a showcase of excellence, recognising the finest musicians, composers and performance artists – all thriving in the City of London.

“As Festival President, I look forward to seeing the City celebrated through performances and installations, and I am immensely proud of the Festival’s artistic and aesthetic legacy.”

City of London Festival is delighted to continue its partnership with BNY Mellon, as the Festival’s principal sponsor for a third year.

Michael Cole-Fontayn, Chairman of Europe, Middle East & Africa at BNY Mellon, said: “We are proud to sponsor the City of London Festival for a third consecutive year. Promoting the arts is an important part of BNY Mellon’s 225-year heritage and we are pleased to support this year’s wide-ranging programme of events, which is one of the highlights of the City of London’s cultural calendar in this Olympic year. As a global company, the diversity, internationalism and entrepreneurial spirit embodied by the Festival are at the heart of what we do and speak to the core values of the City. The theme of this year’s Festival, with its focus on international trade, is an apt symbol of the central role London continues to play on the global stage.”