The London Jazz Festival has grown from its beginnings in 1993 into the largest pan-London music festival, with over 300 events each year. It began life with a brief to bring major stars to London (with an emphasis on new work) to reach out to new audiences, to develop an integrated learning programme and to raise the profile of jazz in London. It has succeeded triumphantly on all counts.
The Festival defines Serious’ approach to partnership. As well as creative relationships with title sponsors (previously BBC Radio 3 and now EFG International), other sponsors, funders, trusts and foundations, every year we work with over 50 venues and producers and we carry with us the aspirations of the most exciting end of the jazz scene across the capital, from major concert halls to tiny clubs, as well as museums, libraries and schools.
Serious created Urban Classic in partnership with the BBC and Bigga Fish, as a vehicle for bringing the best of classical and urban music together through an intense collaborative process that places equal value on both musical worlds. The culmination of this initial partnership was a performance to a packed and enthusiastic audience at Hackney Empire, with live broadcast by BBC1Xtra, Radio 3 and a ground-breaking online diary.
To mark London’s Olympic year Serious presented two new versions of Urban Classic.
Skepta, Ms Dynamite and others came together to perform their music as never heard before with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jules Buckley. This version of Urban Classic was performed to a sold-out audience at the Barbican in March 2012 and broadcast live on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra. In July, an audience of 10,000 people enjoyed an outdoor performance of Urban Classic with surprise guest Ed Sheeran and specially commissioned visuals.
As well as shaping the project artistically with our co-producers Bigga Fish, Serious played a lead role in managing the complex stakeholder relations, which included London 2012 positioning. We brokered the partnerships between Serious, Bigga Fish, Barbican and BBC Symphony Orchestra to present Urban Classic at the Barbican as part of the BBC’s Music Nation weekend.
In its most recent outing, Urban Classic returned as a BBC Prom with the orchestra – under the baton of Jules Buckley – performing with Laura Mvula, Wretch 32, Maverick Sabre, Lady Leshurr, and others, and broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and BBC 1Xtra and BBC 3
BT River of Music
This once-in-lifetime two-day free festival of live music from all Olympic and Paralympic nations, welcoming the world to London the weekend before the Olympic Opening Ceremony was conceived and created by Serious. Serious was responsible for the development and delivery of the entire event.
1,530 artists from all 204 Olympic nations performed across six massive stages at iconic outdoor sites on the Thames, displaying a kaleidoscope of the word's best contemporary and international music. The stages, situated at landmarks along the River Thames, ran as follows: Asia at Battersea Park, Europe at Somerset House and Trafalgar Square, Americas at Tower of London, Oceania (Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands) at Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich and Africa at London Pleasure Gardens.
Live audiences totalled 125,160 with a further eight million through television and radio broadcasts worldwide. 2,458 staff worked on the event
‘From the standard of the food to the friendly security, flawless organisation and gorgeous sites, this was the best music festival I have ever been to in the capital. If this was a dress rehearsal for the sporting festival to come it couldn’t have been more perfect, framing London at its best.’
Creating new work and inspiring innovation is a key part of Serious’ make-up. We have devised a new Festival, Serious Space, and which focuses on exciting premieres, collaborations and commissions. In May 2014 and 2015, SSS lit up Shoreditch with a six night run at Rich Mix, taking audiences on a journey to discover the new artists and music that are making today’s scene so rich. The 2017 Festival took place from Monday 15 to Saturday 20 May.
Embedded in the fabric of Shoreditch’s colourful young and urban scene, SSS took pride in creating a platform for experimentation from both international and British artists of diverse cultural heritage, with influences from Ghana, Switzerland and America. This produced a programme fused with pan-national and cross-art form collaborations and demonstrated the way that Serious are committed to a dynamic and diverse scene.
Catapluf’s Musical Journey
This show was commissioned by the EFG London Jazz Festival, and has gone on to tour internationally. The show is 50 minutes long and can be performed at festivals, concert halls, or in schools. The performance features Jenny Adejayan on cello, Marcelo Andrade and Giuliano Pereira both on saxophone, flute and guitar, Andres Ticino on percussion and Adriano Adewale on – saucepans and everything else!
Catapluf is a sound explorer who makes sound with anything he finds. He guides us on a fascinating journey of discovery through of the world of sound, percussion and musical instruments, and meets some friends who will introduce us to different music styles, including reggae, funky, swing, bossa nova and Eastern European tunes — all with a touch of jazz.
From festivals and large-scale pioneering projects to workshops and free events, our national programme engages a diverse range of participants and audiences with music.
For over 20 years our Learning & Participation programme has been making music accessible to the widest possible audiences and provides the opportunity for participants to work with inspirational artists.
Our National partnerships with regional venues and organisations across the UK ensure we are reaching a diverse range of individuals with a particular focus on communities who are marginalised due to ethnicity or socio-economic disadvantage.