The Southbank Centre is one of the capital's most cherished cultural venues. It is also one of the most eclectic, with a program stretching from baroque concerti to lightless Autechre gigs, taking in performance poetry, video art exhibitions and political panel discussions along the way. It's just announced a typically esoteric 2017 schedule. These are our highlights.
From 13 January 2017
Although the Southbank Centre hosts many festivals based on a region of the world, never before have they programmed a year long celebration of a single one. This changes with Nordic Matters, which aims to map out Northern European culture in all its manifestations.
There will be a UK edition of the Nordic Music Days festival, a performance from prehistoric-themed Finnish metal band Hevisaurus and an opening event with the Icelandic writer Sjón. Major musicians, such as the classical pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and the singer-songwriter Moddi, will appear, along with theatre groups and ensembles from across the five Nordic countries. Dozens more events, representing a third of the Southbank's programming for the entire year, are to be announced in the new year.
19 - 29 May 2017
Alchemy, the Southbank's festival of South Asian culture, returns for its eighth year. Exploring both the region and its long-standing connections with the UK, Alchemy 2016 will open with a performance of Ravi Shankar's first opera Sukanya,* which the poet and mentor worked upon just before his death. Abida Parveen, one of the few female prominent Sufi vocalists, will visit London for a trance-inducing concert.
9 - 18 June 2017
Meltdown is the original artist-curated music festival, but unlike many of its younger peers it occurs at the heart of London. Often revealing surprising dimensions to its director's taste, it provides an opportunity to see unique collaborations, and the sort of interdisciplinary event that only an institution like the Southbank Centre provide. This year's director has yet to be announced, but given that alumni include David Bowie, Ornette Coleman, Patti Smith and David Byrne, think big.
New Music Biennial
7 - 9 July 2017
For one midsummer weekend, the Southbank Centre will play host to an eclectic line-up of music unified not by genre or style but through being new. The folk musicians Eliza Carthy and Sam Lee, the classical-crossover composer Anna Meredith, the electronic jazz pioneers GoGo Penguin and the uncategorisable Mica Levi are among those premiering new work.