Sound Within Sound – Thursday 4 July – Sunday 7 July

The Southbank Centre is launching a bold new festival Sound Within Sound, shining a light on composers from the 20th century whose pioneering work has been overlooked from inclusion in the classical music canon. 

One of our guiding principles, born out of the legacy of the Festival of Britain in 1951, is that art-making should be inclusive and accessible to everyone. In that spirit, this four-day festival is part of the Southbank Centre’s wider summer programme, You Belong Here, which explores themes of inclusivity and a collective sense of belonging.

Inspired by the book Sound Within Sound by journalist and broadcaster Kate Molleson, this festival features pioneering composers from Mexico to New Zealand who have pushed the boundaries of music. These visionaries spearheaded microtonal revolutions, incorporated indigenous sounds into their composition, and animated entire cities with music. Their bold, unconventional, world-awakening music changes how we think about classical music and the musicians who create it.

Join us this July on a journey of discovery across the globe through sensational works that have been neglected. With performances taking place in spaces across the Southbank Centre site from experimental songs to nature-inspired immersive sound installations, audiences are invited to experience the music of these pioneering composers like never before. 

Southbank Centre Head of Classical Music Toks Dada said: “With this festival, we are asking important questions about who is, and who isn’t, included in the classical music story. During Sound Within Sound, we are making space for those voices who have been lost and providing a platform for groundbreaking work that defied the conventions of the time. We are delighted to welcome some of the most forward-thinking and boundary-pushing artists of today to bring these remarkable works to audiences.

Sound Within Sound author Kate Molleson added: “Sound Within Sound was always a call to listening. My hope, my hunch, was that telling the stories of these ten extraordinary composers would ignite a passion to hear their work and open our concert halls to new repertoire. So it’s somewhat of an understatement to say I’m thrilled that the Southbank Centre has picked up the idea and run with it with such commitment. The music being brought out of the shadows, the notes being worked into the fingers of some of the finest musicians on the planet, audiences having the chance to experience the impact of these live sounds – this is the dream outcome! And, I hope, just the beginning of the next stage in the conversation.

Tickets for Sound Within Sound go on general sale on Friday 12 April at 10:00am via  

Sound Within Sound is kindly supported by Cockayne – Grants for the Arts: a donor advised fund held at The London Community Foundation.



Queen Elizabeth Hall, 7:30pm. Ticketed at £20. 

Explore the beautiful and innovative chamber music of composers Annea Lockwood and José Maceda, both of who took inspiration from the natural world. Annea Lockwood is a New Zealand-born sound artist who uses rivers as the material behind her music, literally and figuratively. José Maceda was a Filipino composer and ethnomusicologist who studied and researched ethnic music of the Philippines, and composed music incorporating indigenous music in Southeast Asia.



Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer, 6-7pm.

Begin your evening with the free-flowing sounds of Éliane Radigue’s Occam Ocean, which invites you to slow down and be engulfed in music. Named after the theory of philosopher William of Ockham, that the simplest option is always the best, Radigue’s ethereal sounds invite audiences to discover the beauty of subtle and unshowy mastery of instruments.

This installation takes the form of stories put to music without words, ebbing and flowing like waves. ‘The best audience’, the composer told Kate Molleson, ‘is one that makes up its own images while listening’.  So bring your imaginary canvas and colours, take them to the beach, and let Occam Ocean paint the beginning of the second evening of Sound Within Sound.


Queen Elizabeth Hall, 7pm. Ticketed at £25.

Together with the experimental vocalist Carmina Escobar, Southbank Centre Resident Orchestra London Sinfonietta presents some of Carillo’s most striking chamber works, including the moving and experimental songs ‘I think of you’ and ‘Preludio a Colón’.

Described by Kate Molleson, author of the book Sound Within Sound as a ‘confounding mix of absolutist, traditionalist, visionary and shameless revisionist’, Carillo never ceases to surprise, in his music as well as his words. While his pamphlets and written outpourings tended to twist facts to his advantage, his ‘ear-bending, hypnotically visionary’ music is even more compelling. He boldly blended traditional Western scoring with microtonal experiments that ‘skew the familiar into the uncanny fantastical’, Kate Molleson writes. ‘These works are astonishing and forceful. They intoxicate. They are like nothing else.’


Purcell Room, 8:30pm. Ticketed at £15. 

Join us for an informal evening, re-imagining the Purcell Room as Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou’s chamber in her monastery in Jerusalem, where Sound Within Sound author Kate Molleson visited the nearly 100-year-old composer and nun to find out more about her music. Readings and stories by Molleson from her visits to Jerusalem, interspersed with performances from multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Maya Dunietz, illuminate the composer’s fascinating life.



Purcell Room, 3:45pm. Ticketed at £15.

There aren’t many piano compositions which leave the hands and arms of the pianist bruised. It’s also not every day that a pianist has to make sense of a score which contains passages marked ‘very, very, very loud’, followed by ‘very, very, very, very loud’. But pain and discomfort are woven into the music itself in Ustvolskaya’s compositions, which represent a violent expression of anger at the oppressive system of the Soviet Union she grew up in. Siwan Rhys leads us through a journey of physical extremes, requiring true pianistic skill and endurance.


Riverside Terrace, 2-6pm. 

Combining our celebration of forgotten sonic pioneers of the 20th century, and their own 20th anniversary, the music promoter throws a celebration of sound to remember. The independent record label, founded by Gabriel Prokofiev, takes inspiration from the festival’s theme and Kate Molleson’s book and turns them into crowd-pleasing afternoons in our sun-soaked spaces.


Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer, 2-4:30pm & 4:30-7pm

In the 1960s, Annea Lockwood began exploring the connections between river environments and mental well-being by asking friends and colleagues for sound samples of water environments from all over the world. Twenty years later, she turned her search for the gentlest of sounds to rivers and set out to map the Hudson River from the Adirondack Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean – followed by the Danube two decades later. Follow Lockwood’s sonic journeys down these rivers, listen to splashes, natural whirlpools and aquatic insects as well as fishermen, river rangers and echoing geese calls. ‘Sound is a transfer of energy,’ the composer told Kate Molleson, author of the book Sound Within Sound, and with these works, Lockwood seeks to transfer the energy of the waterways into the human realm, to stir a sense of connection to the natural world. Molleson says, ‘Since the late 1960s she has been staging mischievous and meticulous situational dramas in sound,’ rewiring the audience’s senses with, as Molleson describes it, ‘her awe, her reverence, her sense of acute attention’.


Queen Elizabeth Hall, 5pm. Ticketed at £20.

Galina Ustvolskaya and Dimitri Shostakovich go back a long way. The former joined the latter’s composition class at the Leningrad State Conservatoire in St Petersburg, and immediately won Shostakovich’s esteem, with the elder predicting ‘world fame’. However, the conditions couldn’t have been much worse: it was the time of ‘Great Terror’, the Soviet Union’s clamp down on any radical thinkers and artists who veered from the communist line. 

Ustvolskaya writes Kate Molleson, ‘was not the only one having to weigh up the balance between asserting a creative voice and staying alive.’ Her teacher was probably the best-known musical dissident of the Soviet Union and made a virtue of disguising political dissent as party-line music. The London Sinfonietta explores the connections between teacher and student and between two extraordinary progressive minds oppressed but far from silenced by an autocratic regime. This is a story of radical resistance and musical brilliance at once.


Purcell Room, 6:30pm. Ticketed at £15. 

The Canadian string quartet Quatuor Bozzini, known for embracing new and experimental music, bring works by their fellow North Americans across the pond to London to fill the Purcell Room with some of the most innovative music from America’s last century. While America adored Crawford for her folk-leaning songbooks, she was also ‘a pioneer of hard-hitting, distinctly un-sweet American modernism’, writes Kate Molleson. Her ultramodern String Quartet 1931 shows a young composer ahead of her time. Largely overlooked in contemporary classical and jazz music history, Muhal Richard Abrams and the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), which he formed in the 1960s in Chicago, were at the forefront of avant-garde music. One of the most striking works to come out of the meshed field that Abrams occupied between these two genres is his only string quartet work. Starting with a simple ‘humming’ to set the scene, the quartet steadily develops into a rhythmically driven cacophony of string sounds. Complementing these two quartets is a string trio by Johanna Beyer, another nearly forgotten composer from the time of Abrams and Crawford. Immigrating to the US from Germany in her early 20s, Beyer studied with Ruth Crawford and Charles Seeger in New York. Her trio Music of the Spheres was the first known work scored for electronic instruments by a female composer.


Queen Elizabeth Hall, 8pm. Ticketed at £20.

Dyrehavesbakken – or Bakken as it’s commonly known – is the world’s oldest amusement park, located just north of Copenhagen. Imagine the medley of sounds that made up the soundscape of this park in the mid-20th century, with the shrieks of ghost trains and tinkling of fair rides. This intriguing mix of disembodied noises was what captivated the Danish sound pioneer and  ‘Technogranny’ Elsa Marie Pade when she lived close to the park in the 1950s. Pade’s music translated the sounds around her into dark, unsettling soundtracks for films and other electronic tapes.  In this event, the Queen Elizabeth Hall is transformed into an uncanny other-world by Pade’s distorted sounds of a long-ago fairground, captured by recording technologies from the 20th century.



Queen Elizabeth Hall, 4pm. Ticketed at £20.

‘Radigue is all about perpetual transition,’ writes Kate Molleson about Éliane Radigue, the French sound pioneer who was searching for ‘the sound within sound’: ‘She is a master of transience, queen of the in-between.’ Radigue found the ‘in-between’ for a large part of her work in water – oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, waterfalls – anything that connects the constant movement of water with meditative contemplation.  In the late 2000s Radigue started her series Occam, a constantly evolving body of works in which each piece has been created together with a performer or group of performers. Two of her collaborators, the harpist Rhodri Davies and the Bozzini string quartet, bring the works they created with Radigue in her Parisian apartment to the Queen Elizabeth Hall, inviting audiences to be immersed in the flowing sounds of Radigue’s water-inspired compositions.

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About the Southbank Centre

The Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest multi-arts centre and engages the most diverse audiences of any performing arts organisation in the UK. Our biggest venue, the Royal Festival Hall (2,700 seats) is the lasting legacy of the 1951 Festival of Britain and the ambition and values of that project – that arts, ideas, innovation and culture can heal communities and should be available and accessible to everyone – are still our guiding principles today. The Southbank Centre is uniquely able to offer a wide-ranging, inclusive and world-class artistic programme spanning contemporary visual arts, music, dance, performance, literature, comedy and spoken word across the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, the Hayward Gallery and our free spaces. We are also home to the National Poetry Library, the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) and six resident orchestras (Aurora Orchestra, Chineke! Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Philharmonia Orchestra).