A Weekend Diary

…words and images from England's green and pleasant land…

The Rest is Noise

The Rest is Noise is a year-long festival that digs deep into 20th-century history to reveal the influences on art in general and classical music in particular, inspired by Alex Ross’ book The Rest is Noise

Such is the blurb that introduces the eight page A4 printed handout for this weekend’s instalment of the festival on the South Bank, which was given the title:’Politics and Spirituality in the Late 20th Century’.

To be honest, I’ve not taken a lot of interest in ‘The Rest is Noise’ festival until now, but there was something uniquely compelling about this weekend’s events, given its focus on life behind the Iron Curtain in the 1970s and 1980s, and my own interest in the Russian language, an interest which culminated in the acquisition of an O-level in 1984 (a strangely appropriate year given its Orwellian connotations ;)) and led to a continuation into A-level Russian studies in the mid-Eighties, which I never actually got around to completing, but which left me with a love of Pushkin’s work, and Gogol’s ‘The Overcoat’, and inculcated in me an enduring love of the beauty of the Russian language.

So it was, I spent much of the day on the South Bank, taking in some of the many available sessions this weekend. Unfortunately, several of the sessions that I would have liked to have attended clashed with others taking place at the same time; for instance, I would have particularly liked to have seen Astrid Proll, a member of Germany’s notorious Baader-Meinhof gang, talking about her life living undercover amongst London’s alternative squatter community, until she was tracked down in 1978. However, I opted instead for the simultaneous talk on the Beatles rocking the Kremlin…

The Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room on London's South Bank (as seen from the ground floor of the Royal Festival Hall)

The Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room on London’s South Bank (as seen from the ground floor of the Royal Festival Hall)

Catherine Merridale, a leading historian on the Soviet Union, here giving a lecture on Soviet society in the 1970s and 1980s...

Catherine Merridale, a leading historian on the Soviet Union, here giving a lecture on Soviet society in the 1970s and 1980s…

Catherine Merridale, in discussion with Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, after the (11.00 am)  opening lecture in the Queen Elizabeth Hall

Catherine Merridale, in discussion with Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, after the (11.00 am) opening lecture in the Queen Elizabeth Hall

In the early afternoon, I opted for some lunch, and headed to Marks and Sparks at nearby Waterloo station to get a sandwich, and there discovered free drinks were being handed out on the station concourse…:)

A free chocolate milk drink, being given away during a promotion on the concourse of Waterloo station on Saturday afternoon...

A free chocolate milk drink, being given away during a promotion on the concourse of Waterloo station on Saturday afternoon…

Next event for me was a showing of one of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s ‘Dekalog’ films, originally made for Polish television in 1988. I really enjoyed this, and I’ll be seeking to get the nine in the series that I’ve not yet seen on a DVD sometime….

Inside the Sunley Pavilion on Level 3 of the Royal Festival Hall, about to watch Dekalog 2, one of the ten Dekalog films being shown over the weekend...

Inside the Sunley Pavilion on Level 3 of the Royal Festival Hall, about to watch Dekalog 2, one of the ten Dekalog films being shown over the weekend…

The Front Room in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, venue for the discussion on the Beatles seditious effect in undermining Soviet  political orthodoxy... ;)

The Front Room in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, venue for the discussion on the Beatles seditious effect in undermining Soviet political orthodoxy… 😉

The subject interested me enough to buy a copy of this book, and get it signed by Leslie Woodhead, the author...

The subject interested me enough to buy a copy of this book, and get it signed by Leslie Woodhead, the author…

Final event of the day (that is, excluding an evening concert), was a lecture by the philosopher Alain de Botton, followed by a discussion hosted by Jude Kelly, who afterwards described the session as ‘thought-provoking and invigorating’, which I thought was fair comment…;)

Alain de Botton, during his lecture on 'sprituality and consumerism'...

Alain de Botton, during his lecture on ‘sprituality and consumerism’…

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