The Night Shift

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Venue profile: Kensington Palace

Wed Aug 9 2017

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‘They face away from the audience and the instrument is covered in felt. They play in the most tender and devastati……


Kensington Palace. It’s the official home of the Will and Kate. And Harry. And the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. And the Duke and Duchess of Kent. And Prince and Princess Michael of Kent too. God knows how they co-ordinate the washing up rota.

So what is The Night Shift doing there?

Well, Night Shift favourite composer George Frideric Handel did a lot of work there in the 18th century, teaching music to various royal Queens and Princesses, as well as writing music for them. You can find out more about this in the Palace’s current Enlightened Princesses exhibition.

We thought this’d be a great opportunity to play some of Handel’s best music. But, being The Night Shift, there’s a twist.

Handel knew how to knock out a tune. We reckon, if you listen hard enough, you can hear his influence in pop and rock music. So we’re going to be playing music by Radiohead, Bjork, The Knife, David Bowie and Beyoncé on our 18th century instruments, so you can compare and contrast.

Benjamin Tassie, who’s done the arrangements, says,

“Comparing Baroque with pop music shows you just how exciting Handel really is. You might think it’s much more sedate and calm, but he wrote these really energetic, loud, fast arias full of what we think of as really ‘rock’ repetitive ideas. For instance we’re going to compare a Handel aria – Tuo Drudo – with Radiohead’s Paranoid Android, and we’ll see some really interesting connections between incredible pieces of music written hundreds of years apart.”

How does it work?

In another Night Shift first, we’re going to brave the British summer and play outdoors the Palace’s beautiful gardens. It’s the same stage Prince Harry shared with Coldplay in a charity gig last June. You can buy a picnic and there will be a bar, or, even better – bring your own booze.

The Night Shift – From Baroque to Rock

Friday 18 August, 7.30pm (grounds open 6.30pm). £10.


Nearest station: High Street Kensington (Circle & District lines), Queensway (Central line)

Also in the neighbourhood: It’s Kensington, so more landmarks than you can shake a stick at. The Palace borders Hyde Park, near The Serpentine. You’re a 15 minute walk from the Royal Albert Hall and, in the other direction, Notting Hill. Properties on nearby Kensington Palace Gardens (also the name of a street) belong to the likes of Roman Abramovich, Tamara Ecclestone and the Saudi Royal Family.

Fun fact: The ghost of King George II is said to haunt the Palace.

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