City Workers Encouraged to Swap Lunch ‘Al Desko’ for Culture Al Fresco with FREE Lunchtime Events for City of London Festival’s 50th Anniversary

  • Over 150 events across the Capital in June and July, from St Paul’s Cathedral to Hampstead Heath, Southwark to St Pancras International. Many are FREE to attend
  • Highlights for London workers include 50 Golden Street Pianos, free lunchbreak concerts in City Churches by some of Britain’s top ‘ones to watch’ and a unique programme dedicated to commuters at Liverpool Street Station
  • City of London Festival runs 24 June – 27 July. For more information and Box Office:; 0845 120 7502

Press info and images:; 020 7221 7883

Don’t be surprised if you struggle for a response from a City desk at 1pm this summer. From 24 June to 27 July the City of London Festival will be celebrating its 50thanniversary in style with a wealth of music recitals, street performances, poetry readings and other special events. Created in 1962 to inspire and entertain the City’s workers, visitors and residents with a world-class line-up, 50% of the 2012 programme takes place during the traditional lunch hour.

A poll conducted earlier this year* showed that the average British lunch break today is just fifteen minutes, with a third of employees admitting to eating at their desks while still working. This year the City of London Festival is urging the City’s workforce to reclaim their lunchbreak, venturing beyond their desks to enjoy the cultural experiences on offer, reducing stress, opening up new avenues of creativity and enhancing their quality of life.  All lunchtime performances are free to attend.

‘Reclaim Your Lunchbreak’ highlights include:

23 June-13 July (Tuesdays-Fridays) 1.05pm-1.55pm Tomorrow’s Artists Today – 12 recitals in 12 City churches showcasing some of our most gifted young performers from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Includes ‘A Bouquet of Flower Songs’ (5 July, St Vedast Alias Foster) and ‘The Flowers of Opera’ (11 July, St Margaret Pattens) in homage to the Festival’s 2012 ‘wildflower’ theme (see:

24 June-13 July 50 Golden Street Pianos – located in the Square Mile and beyond – including for the first time locations such as the Gherkin. The City of London Festival presents the pianos, which are free for anyone to turn up and play at any time, as part of the Play Me, I'm Yours scheme devised by artist Luke Jerram. In the run-up to the Festival a Golden Street Piano will tour the Capital’s key commuter stations, including St Pancras International, Waterloo and London Bridge. Catch the Sydney Dance Company at the pianos as they present pop-up performances of a dance duet created by Rafael Bonachela especially for the Festival’s 50th anniversary (27-29 June), and look out for several lunchtime concerts from local schoolchildren, who will perform folk, gospel and pop songs from across the world at the pianos.

25 June-27 July c.12pm-c. 2pm – lunchtime outdoor performances throughout the Festival in Broadgate Circle, Paternoster Square, Devonshire Square and Guildhall Yard (see individual location event details at Highlights include:

-       Euromix Garden line-up – European musicians perform amidst the wildflower garden installed by the Festival in Broadgate Circle (25-29 June)

-       Ku Da Mix Orchestra, led by the inimitable Kuljit Bhamra performing in Guildhall Yard (2 July)

-       Outstanding harpist Lucy Wakeford in Devonshire Square (11 July)

6 July, 12.15-1.15pm Spaceships are Cool – A wonderland of beats, bleeps, guitars, vintage synths, organic alt-pop, cartoon space stations, bubble machines, astronaut marionettes, origami rockets and bright orange spacesuit. Part of the two-day Level Playing Field programme, showcasing collaboration between disabled and non-disabled musicians. (Guildhall Yard, Gresham Street).

13, 20, 27 July, 12.30 – 2pm Barts Summer Series (takes place in the hospital courtyard) – a confluence of cultures with virtuoso dance and music performances from Kosmos, all the sounds and rhythms of Brazil by Sambossa and Australia’s Mal Webb, who employs various vocal techniques, guitar, mbira, slide trumpet, trombone, chromatic harmonica and a loop recording pedal called ‘Derek’.

For those still chained to their desk during the working day there is also a special section of the programme, ‘Commuter Music’ (5, 12, 19, 26 July) dedicated to enlivening the journey of those caught up in the daily grind. From 5.00pm until 7.30pm, commuters travelling through Liverpool Street Station will be entertained by an array of jazz, folk and classical performances. There’s a surprise turn by some of the City’s more acrobatic ‘Roadworkers’ – and even a chance to get ‘hoe down and happennin’ with a barn dance class on 12 July.

For 50 years the City of London Festival has entertained and inspired the City’s workers, residents and visitors with an annual, internationally-acclaimed arts programme which has included countless premières and exciting collaborations – all performed in some of the Square Mile’s most iconic and unique locations.

Highlights of the 2012 celebrations include the epic Berlioz Requiem in St Paul’s Cathedral (25 and 26 June), featuring the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis, who both performed in the first Festival in 1962; the premiére of a new piece by celebrated British composer Tansy Davies, herself a graduate of the Guildhall School, which will be performed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Britain’s foremost period instrument orchestra, at Mansion House (28 June). And a pioneering work by Nigel Osborne for Clarence Adoo, an exceptional musician who was paralysed 15 years ago in a road accident, and his specially-designed Headspace instrument.

The Festival also delivers educational programmes for schools and community groups in the City of London and its surrounding boroughs. A highlight for City workers is the phenomenal Festival Procession, which sees 1000 children welcomed into the Square Mile to present art in the streets inspired by ‘Flowers of the World’, followed by a finale concert on the steps of St Paul’s (29 June). Visitors to Cheapside can also enjoy Stories from the Square Mile – a life-affirming array of anecdotes from the City’s older adults presented in an open-air exhibition put together with the creative help of primary school students (24 June – 27 July).

Sustainability remains a core part of the Festival's programme, with flowers in the spotlight for 2012 (see The Festival will be promoting and nurturing wildflowers across the Square Mile, providing vital support for the City's population of pollinators. The public will be invited to feast on City honey taken from the Festival’s roof-top beehives, as well as celebrate urban flowers, at the Festival’s closing event in Paternoster Square (27 July). 

The Play Me, I’m Yours initiative, featuring 50 Golden Street Pianos installed in parks, squares and open spaces across London for the public to play will run on 24 June – 13 July 2012. Volunteer or donate for the project and become Street Piano Champion. (To support contact: 020 7583 3585). To see a map of the piano locations visit

For a full overview of the festival see:

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Press Contacts and Images Rajina Gurung e: t: 0207 221 7883 William Kallaway e: t: 0207 221 7883 Susannah Glynn e: t: 0207 221 7883

Press pictures:

About City of London Festival
24 June – 27 July 2012,
Since its inauguration in 1962 the Festival has been animating the City, bringing the Square Mile’s monumental architecture, wealth of buildings, outdoor spaces, and ancient streets to life with a rich and extraordinary programme of music, performance, events and installations. Ranked among the world’s leading cultural celebrations, City of London Festival is one of the UK’s most significant and highly regarded artistic platforms featuring a dazzling array of luminaries from across the worlds of music, dance, visual art and street performance.  Inspired by the history of the City and its communities it has built a reputation for innovative programming, showcasing newly discovered and world-class artists, championing new work and presenting contemporary collaborations in beautiful surroundings.

For half a century the Festival has connected the communities of the City with the world’s most acclaimed musicians and performers, enlivening the City, its inhabitants and visitors through culture.  The alumni of contributing artists over the Festival’s lifetime reads like a Who’s Who of the world’s most accomplished artists. CoLF has also featured the likes of Jacqueline Du Pré, Sir Willard White, Yehudi Menuhin and Elizabeth Schwarzkopf to name only a few.  In its 50th year the Festival will continue to add to this outstanding pedigree of performance, as well as building upon its commitment to searching out exceptional emerging talent.

Sponsor: BNY Mellon
BNY Mellon has been a proud sponsor of the City of London Festival for 3 years, connecting with the Festival’s core values of global excellence, quality and community in the City. 

BNY Mellon is a global financial services company focused on helping clients manage and service their financial assets, operating in 36 countries and serving more than 100 markets.  BNY Mellon is a leading provider of financial services for institutions, corporations and high-net-worth individuals, offering superior investment management and investment services through a worldwide client-focused team.  It has $25.8 trillion in assets under custody and administration and $1.26 trillion in assets under management, services $11.8 trillion in outstanding debt and processes global payments averaging $1.5 trillion per day.  BNY Mellon is the corporate brand of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation.  Additional information is available on or follow on Twitter @BNYMellon.

Festival Director: Ian Ritchie
Ian Ritchie was born in London of Scottish parents in 1953.  Music was in his blood – by the age of 18 he was studying at the Royal College of Music, where he won the Mario Grisi Prize, and was heading towards a solo singing career.  Ian took up a choral scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read Law and Music, as well as post-graduate studies at the Guildhall School.

In 1976, Ian decided to redirect his energies to arts management, working as Promotion Manager at Universal Edition.  Thus began a new career and a lifelong involvement with composers and artists.  In 1979, Ian was invited to run the Richard Hickox Singers & Orchestra, which soon became the City of London Sinfonia, and in 1983 he was appointed Artistic Director of the City of London Festival, a job he undertook in parallel with managing the CLS!  In 1984, he was lured to Scotland to run the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and immediately set about reinventing the role of an orchestra as musicians for the community as well as a community of musicians, winning the ABSA/BP Arts Award for making the most imaginative use of sponsorship in 1990 and the Prudential Awards for Music and for the Arts overall in 1991.  Since leaving the SCO in 1993, Ian has led numerous arts organisations, including Opera North and St Magnus Festival, Orkney.  His wider musical interests and trusteeships inform his festival work, including The Choirbook for The Queen (chairing the Editorial Committee for this recently published collection of 44 contemporary anthems to mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee), the Musical Brain (Artistic Director of conferences exploring the frontiers of music, science and medicine) and Musicians without Borders (using music to rebuild communities divided by conflict, both at home and abroad).

In 2005, Ian found himself coming full circle and once again taking up the directorship of the City of London Festival after a gap of more than 20 years.

* Findings taken from a poll of 1000 people, commissioned by Campbell’s Soup, January 2012.