Oliver Zeffman conducts ASMF in the Raphael Gallery of the V&A © Matthew Johnson

22 April – British Library with ASMF, the Bach Choir and Peter Donohoe
17 May – Science Museum with ASMF
12 July – Cutty Sark with RPO and Dame Sarah Connolly

Visual albums to be made at the V&A, British Library, Science Museum and Cutty Sark, and released by Platoon later this year

Known for his pioneering spirit, conductor Oliver Zeffman directs a new series of concerts at major London museums, including the V&A, British Library, Science Museum and Cutty Sark. This is the first time Oliver has collaborated with Viking, the small ship travel company known for its destination focus and culturally enriching experiences.

Music x Museums presented by Viking is an immersive new concert series, inviting audiences into London’s most iconic cultural institutions to experience performances blending classical music with the capital’s most impressive architecture and collections of art. The series opens to the public on 22 April at the British Library following a sold-out members’ concert earlier this month at the V&A with star countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

Building on the success of the visual album Live at the V&A last year – which had more than a million streams in its first month of release – Oliver Zeffman is again working with Platoon to create stunning visual albums of each concert in the series. The full-length films will be available to stream on Apple Music and Viking.TV and the audio albums will be streamed on all music platforms.

Zeffman says: “After more than two years of such precarious cultural activity, it’s more important than ever for different art forms and different arts institutions to be working together to bring exciting cultural events to the public, in this case pairing great music with great art and architecture. I’m delighted – and hugely grateful – that these London museums, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the presenting sponsor Viking, all seem to share in that vision. 

 Although, crucially, this is a live music series for a live audience, I believe that classical music can (and should) be doing better to reach digital audiences around the world. After our shared success with Live at the V&A last year, I’m thrilled to be working again with Platoon towards this goal.”

Wendy Atkin-Smith, Managing Director of Viking UK, said: “At Viking, we believe in nurturing emerging talent as well as supporting the arts so we are pleased to be collaborating with Oliver who has been described as ‘phenomenally promising’.  We share Oliver’s passion for bringing history and art to life through music and we are delighted to give Viking guests and music lovers alike the chance to enjoy the Music x Museums concerts in iconic settings.  Our guests particularly love classical music – on board our ships our resident musicians perform classical compositions and guests can enjoy destination performances.  We also stream Classic FM on our river, ocean and expedition fleets and, closer to home, Viking has been a long-standing sponsor of Classic FM Live at the Royal Albert Hall.  We are looking forward to bringing the Music x Museums concerts to a wider audience when they are streamed on Viking.TV, our enrichment channel, later this year.”

As a finale to the current Beethoven exhibition at the British Library, one of Viking’s cultural partners, the next concert on 22 April features two of Beethoven’s most admired orchestral works, Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral”and Choral Fantasy for piano, choir and orchestra. The first editions of these scores are currently on display at the Library. This gives audiences a rare chance to get closer to the composer through both close proximity to the manuscripts as well as experiencing the power and beauty of the music in performance by world-class musicians. Zeffman conducts the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, joined by doyen of the piano Peter Donohoe, in the grand Entrance Hall. The rich voices of the Bach Choir will fill the balconies and it will be the first time such a large-scale concert has been performed at the British Library. 

Inspired by the Stephen Hawking at Workdisplay, the Science Museum concert on 17 May with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields features music that explores time and space. Bach’s fugues create coherence out of interlocking musical lines, each of which is independent, yet moves in their own time frame, whilst Birtwistle’s Tragoedia combines different groups of instruments to achieve the opposite, with each player in their own temporal world. Terry Riley’s hypnotic 1964 work In C is scored for any number of musicians andis often cited as the first significant minimalist piece of music. Ordered chaos – not unlike the concept of entropy used so frequently in theoretical physics – is a key component of this piece, which takes shape thanks to the whim of the performers. 53 musical segments, all based on a few notes of the C major scale, are repeated any number of times, each musician moving at their own pace; it is almost wilfully random, yet there are moments of synchronicity and order.

For the concert at Royal Museums Greenwich’s Cutty Sark on 12 July, Zeffman and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are joined by mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly. It focuses on the sea, with turbulent and tranquil pieces reflecting it by composers including Thomas Adès and Vaughan Williams. It also features Elgar’s Sea Pictures for singer and orchestra – the text for the last of these five songs, The Swimmer, was published in 1870, the same year as the Cutty Sark embarked on her maiden voyage. The last of her kind, Cutty Sark is an iconic record-breaking tea clipper. The ship is the gateway to ‘Maritime Greenwich’ sharing tales of adventure, global trade and speed at sea. Cutty Sark was placed in Greenwich as a memorial to the Merchant Navy, particularly those who lost their lives in the two world wars. The famous name comes from Robert Burns’ poem ‘Tam O’Shanter’, about a farmer called Tam who is chased by a scantily-clad witch called Nannie, dressed only in a ‘cutty sark’ – an archaic Scottish name for a short nightdress.

For the first concert at the V&A, which took place last week and will be the first film and album to be released by Platoon,Zeffman was joined by superstar countertenor Jakub Jósef Orliński and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields for a programme inspired by the museum’s exhibition, Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear.Music by Lully, Stravinsky and contemporary composer Caroline Shaw among others, reflects the exhibition and its three sections: Undressed, Overdressed and Redressed. For instance, Stravinsky’s ballet Apollo, as a quintessential neo-classical work,is musically ‘undressed’ and connects with the cast of the Apollo Belvedere displayed as part of the exhibition, while Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte is a modern ‘redressing’ of the 18th-century Classical minuet and trio. In keeping with the exhibition’s celebration of the power, artistry and diversity of masculine attire and appearance, Orliński performs several roles written originally for castrati or female voice.

The concert films (both audio and audiovisual) for each of the events will be released by Platoon later this year and will also be streamed on Viking.TV. 

Further details about these concerts are available from the Music x Museums website.