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South Bank Centre announces new vision

Jude Kelly, artistic director of the South Bank Centre, has announced early details of the opening season at the refurbished Royal Festival Hall.

She announced a partnership between the four resident orchestras, the appointment of Marshall Marcus as new head of music and a range of new relationships with artists across the site.

"Our intention is to make the South Bank Centre a far more open, hospitable, accessible and creative place – a 'bustling' cultural port at the heart of this great world city," says Jude Kelly. "The Centre will also be somewhere where new work is born; where artists will come, not just to perform, but to meet people, encounter other artists, spark ideas and experiment; a place where things will happen in new ways; where the young and not so young will explore and learn; where art forms will cross over; where ideas from around the world will be researched and expounded."

The SBC says that a "unique working relationship" is to be forged between the resident orchestras; the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta; the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Philharmonia Orchestra. This will result in shared programming ideas, commissions, education projects and training opportunities, and a family of resident conductors and ensembles while retaining their strong individual identities. When the Royal Festival Hall reopens in June 2007, the opening concert will feature all four, drawing on a pool of 250 musicians.

Kelly gave details of the world-class figures from across the visual and performing arts spectrums that are to become Artists in Residence and Associate Artists at the South Bank Centre. These include conductor Vladimir Jurowski, closely associated with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; composers Oliver Knussen and George Benjamin; the opera singer Willard White; the indie band St Etienne; the composer and musician Nitin Sawhney; the choreographer Rafael Bonachela; the poet Lemn Sissay and artists Jane and Louise Wilson. These relationships will allow the artists to create work that is rooted in the South Bank, ranging across the entire site: the four major venues and the spaces between.

The South Bank Centre has a long record as a receiving house for outside productions. In the new plans it will be investing in producing more of its own unique work, inspired, in part, by the Artists in Residence scheme. Productions will draw on the rich pool of talent that exists in-house and exploit the strengths of the organisation to mount major events and exhibitions that will premiere at the South Bank Centre and then tour.

Under the patronage of Willard White, young singers from unconventional backgrounds will get the chance to have intensive informal training at the South Bank Centre's new Voice Studio. Mary King, who was responsible for the very successful young performers' training course at the English National Opera and Channel 4's Operatunity, will direct the studio and its students will take part in South Bank Centre productions.

Willie Williams, U2's lighting director, is to set up the Light Lab, a lighting research centre that will allow artists and designers from around the world to experiment and explore the properties of light, using the site and venues as the canvas for these explorations.

Marshall Marcus will be responsible for overseeing the music programme. He is currently the chief executive of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, of which he is a founder member. He is well known in the international classical world as a solo violinist, an orchestral member and a first-class administrator. He will be responsible for overseeing the classical and contemporary music programmes in the Royal Festival Hall and across the other venues. Gillian Moore, another new appointment, also joins Jude Kelly's team as Head of Contemporary Culture. Her brief will range freely over all the art forms.

The opening season will include the first ever full-scale museum show in London by sculptor Antony Gormley.

Another highlight will be The Painting of Modern Life, a major international survey of the development of contemporary painting from the 1960s to the present day including works by Gerhard Richter, Malcolm Morley, Vija Celmins and David Hockney.

The SBC is alslo launching a brand new London Literature Festival alongside the existing Poetry International and the children's literature festival Imagine

Chief executive Michael Lynch said: "When I joined the South Bank Centre in 2002 I had several objectives; not only would the Royal Festival Hall be restored and refurbished, but there would be a full creative vision for the site. Today, that objective becomes a reality."

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