The success of TunedIn London has been phenomenal in creating Rotherhithe’s most talked about music scene! Eleanor Thorn who runs TunedIn London has been designing series of World Music concerts in Rotherhithe for over four years and at Sands Films for eighteen months. In that time she has given SE16 an amazing global reach and we have become known as one of the finest settings in which to hear music from across the world. I met up with Eleanor at The Ship in Rotherhithe and we chatted over a coffee.
So what drew you to Sands Film Studios as a venue for your concerts?
“It’s such a unique space! Few people knew about it and when my work with the Brunel Museum was nearing its end, I thought it would be great to introduce performers and audience to such a magical setting. I live really locally to both the Brunel Museum and Sands, so it also made sense when Martha my daughter arrived in 2013 to do things round here. I’d already been a regular at Sands’ Film Club so I knew how the space could be used and when I suggested a set of concerts Olivier and his team were up for it.”
How did you get into the World Music scene, then?
“I got involved in a free open-air short film festival in Paris and the film-screenings were preceded by music. I was lucky and got to programme some of the films and the bands. When I returned to London in 2008, after a time in Spain, I volunteered with the Guys’ and St Thomas’ Charity setting up concerts for patients and visitors on both sites. At the same time, I spent my free time visiting lots of small venues around town listening to an amazing range of global sounds. Charlie Gillett’s Saturday night show on BBC World Service was a great influence and introduced me to many world music bands.”
You started out at the Brunel Museum. How did that start up?
“Well, in April 2011 I moved (on Marathon day!) to Rotherhithe and brought my volunteering to the Brunel Museum. Their space was a great intimate venue and they already had Manu Delago as their musician in residence. He’s a very talented Hang player and so I proposed three live concerts in the Engine Room itself. And of course, the amazing potential of the Tunnel Shaft (ed: now the Grand Entrance) was obvious and so alongside Manu who continued to play there I pulled in other talented performers to play in that acoustic. I got involved with the Midnight Apothecary and took on a role developing the venue hire for the Museum.”
So what has TunedIn London in store for us in this series?
“I started out putting on a rather ambitious five concerts in the space of ten days, prior to the Olympics. They went well especially after a key article appeared in The Londonist. I always want to fill the 70 seats in the cinema at Sands and preview promotion of the type The Londonist did really helps. This year and last, I’ve put together series of acoustic concerts roughly fortnightly and usually running mid-week. Tickets have gone up slightly and now cost £14 which is still very reasonable for the experience of hearing top musicians in such a unique space. You can now purchase tickets securely from my website and we’ve just halved the booking fee!”
“…it would be great to introduce performers and audience to such a magical setting…”
“We started last week (18 May) with ‘Cigdem Aslan and Tahir Palali: Two Breaths and Three Strings’ from the Alevi musical tradition of Turkey. The duet is a new project which follows Cigdem’s album success with Mortissa and as lead singer with London’s best known klezmer ensemble She’koyokh. Our next concert (1 June) will bring to Rotherhithe Michalis Kouloumis and his trio (Nicos and Thodoris Ziarkas), whose stunning repertoire shares music from the Eastern Mediterranean, original compositions and soulful improvisations. It’s great to welcome SANS back (15 June) as last time their lead singer couldn’t join them due to illness. They’ll bring an amazingly original music drawing on Finnish, Armenian and British folk traditions. And only three days later on Saturday 18 June at the nearby St Mary’s church, the award-winning London Bulgarian Choir return with the Finnish female vocal ensemble Slavonic Tractor to celebrate Midsummer.”
“South America comes to Rotherhithe on 29 June in the form of Southwark-based Southern Cone Quartet. Playing music inspired by the traditions of Uruguay, Chile and Argentina, they conjure a sound that is uniquely fresh and nostalgic. For our first July concert (13 July), we bring story-telling to our concerts for the first time. ‘The Girl with the Almond Eyes’ promises an exciting blend of songs, poems and stories from many traditions – the German/Egyptian singer Merit Ariane, Greek/Australian story-teller Anna Conomos, Iranian qunan player Nilufar Habibian and Serbian accordionist Milos Milivojevic. The final concert in the series (27 July) brings together the British virtuoso Blues guitarist Ramon Goose with Modou Touré, one of Senegal’s most accomplished young vocalists.” So as ever we have music from many parts of our world to savour in just one season of TunedIn London. Find out more at Tuned In London Facebook page and keep up to date with developments by following @TunedinLDN on Twitter.