Our rich festival programme continues with a distinctly musical feel this month, beginning with a talk about composer Michael Tippett – a great supporter of refugee musicians – at Morley College in London and ending with a display at Glyndebourne that tells the story of the early years of this iconic opera festival.

May highlights:


3 May, 6pm to 8pm

Penny Lecture: Michael Tippett – The Biography by Oliver Soden, Morley College, London

Writer and broadcaster Oliver Soden introduces his new biography of composer Michael Tippett with a lecture illustrated by live performances from Morley College’s students and tutors. During the Second World War Tippett was appointed Director of Music at Morley, and he speedily employed a number of refugee musicians, such as Walter Bergmann, Mátyás Seiber, and Walter Goehr. With their help and against all the odds he founded a concert series at the college that was soon acclaimed as one of Britain’s best and formed a music department that permanently altered and extended the musical repertoire enjoyed in this country.


16 May, 7.30pm

The experience of the Kindertransport, Dulwich Festival, The Old Library, Dulwich College

Eighty years ago 10,000 children came to Britain as unaccompanied refugees on the Kindertransport from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, escaping Nazi Europe. A screening of interview extracts will be followed by a panel discussion with two former Kinder, chaired by Dr Bea Lewkowicz, Director of the Refugee Voices Testimony Archive, when they will explore how the Kinder adapted in Britain and how they dealt with being separated from their families and their homes. A photographic exhibition Still in our Hands’, which features 10 Kinder will be on display. Presented by Dulwich Festival in association with AJR Refugee Voices Testimony Archive.


18 May – 25 August

Between Worlds, Glyndebourne

An exhibition exploring the founding and early years of the Glyndebourne Festival, which opened its doors 85 years ago. John and Audrey Christie’s success, and their legacy, is legendary, but they could never have done it alone. For their fledgling opera festival, John found the winning team of conductor Fritz Busch and producer Carl Ebert, the Festival’s first artistic directors. Both refugees from Hitler’s Germany, they brought with them the high European standards of performance which set Glyndebourne apart, and which, over the years, drew on the talents of a wide circle of émigré artists and musicians.


Thursday 23 May, 3pm

Insiders/Outsiders, Charleston Festival, East Sussex

Monica Bohm-Duchen, creative director of the Insiders/Outsiders festival and editor of the companion volume, which focuses on visual culture, will discuss the importance of cultural cross-fertilisation with eminent art historian and curator, Norman Rosenthal, who programmed exhibitions at the Royal Academy for over 30 years. They will be joined by novelist Esther Freud, daughter of artist Lucian Freud who was a refugee from Berlin.


26 May to 30 September

Fifth Biennial Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize Exhibition
Piano Nobile King’s Place, London

Exhibition of 120 selected submissions from a long-list of works for the Fifth Biennial Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize. At the opening a panel of prestigious judges will select a winner. Celebrating contemporary British and Irish self-portraiture, the Ruth Borchard Prize offers a unique opportunity for new and established artists to compete for £10,000 and an opportunity for their work to be purchased for the Ruth Borchard Next Generation Collection.


30 May to 15 October

London/Berlin: The Lost Photographs of Gerty Simon

The Weiner Library, London

The Wiener Library’s summer 2019 exhibition showcases the remarkable work of German Jewish photographer Gerty (Gertrud) Simon, and features many of her original prints from the 1920s and 1930s. Simon was a once-prominent photographer who captured many important political and artistic figures in Weimar Berlin, including Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya, Käthe Kollwitz, Max Liebermann and Albert Einstein. In the 1930s, as a refugee from Nazism in Britain, Simon rapidly re-established her studio, and portrayed many significant individuals there, such as Sir Kenneth Clarke, Dame Peggy Ashcroft and Aneurin Bevan.

A collection donated to The Wiener Library in 2016 contained hundreds of Gerty Simon’s original prints, along with documentary evidence of her life and work. For the first time in eighty years, the work of this pioneering photographer will be brought to public attention in this exhibition.