WHEN the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall closed last year for refurbishment it meant its resident orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, had to find new places to play in.
It has proved to be an opportunity to look further afield from the more traditional concert hall venues.
Earlier this month they performed at the Southwark Playhouse and now they are gearing up for a couple of nights at the Coronet in Elephant & Castle in which they will stage the first of two landmark UK premieres.
The iconic, cavernous and multi-purpose venue has been the beating heart of Southwark’s cultural scene since 1872 and for the Sinfonietta's chief executive Andrew Burke it offers the perfect setting for some exciting new work.
"Contemporary music is so varied and requires so many different ways of presenting it," says Andrew.
"We wanted to find spaces that resonated with the pieces we are putting on and the Coronet, which has been a theatre, cinema and more recently a nightclub and live music venue, fitted the bill perfectly.
"It's hugely exciting for us to be here. We will be using all parts of the stage and indeed the venue, playing in different areas so it will be an incredible experience."
The first piece is a thought-provoking performance of The Book Of Disquiet. Composer Michel van der Aa’s score transforms Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa's collection of dream vignettes that combines spoken word, performed by actor Samuel West, with music, electronics and video.
In March the Coronet will host the UK premiere of Speicher by innovative composer Enno Poppe which was developed over five years, and will be conducted by leading Finnish conductor Susanna Malkki.
"We are very excited to be working with Samuel who is a great actor," says Andrew. "Van der Aa's music is unusual but very accessible and wonderful to listen to.
"It's an extraordinary sound and the concert will be played in front of three large cicular screens which have video projected on them. It's going to be very exciting."
Andrew hopes these excursions will be the start of more visits to other venues although he says he's looking forward to going back to the Southbank Centre when it's re-opened in 2018.
"Our main work will remain in the Southbank Centre as there will always be some music that needs to be played in a concert hall," he says.
"However there is a real excitement that comes when we find a connection with the music we are performing and the spaces we are performing in. I'm sure these two years of exploring different spaces will inspire us to keep doing that.
"The 21st century is only 15 years old and there is tonnes being written so it's an exciting time for us to explore new ways of working, how we make music, what art forms we can collaborate with and where we play.
"We already have a diverse audience who come and see our performances but we hope we can show new audiences that contemporary classical music is for everyone."
The Book Of Disquiet is on at the Coronet Theatre, New Kent Road on Wednesday February 24 and Thursday February 25. Tickets are £20. Visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk or call the box office on 0844 847 9940.