On 3 March 1982, the Barbican Centre opened its doors for the first time.
To celebrate our 35th anniversary, we’ve looked back through the archives and uncovered 35 Firsts from our boundary-pushing heritage over the last three and a half decades.
In this next chapter, we come to the end of the 2010s so far…
Explore our online scrapbook: barbican.org.uk/barbicanat35
Share your Barbican Firsts with us on Twitter @barbicancentre #barbican35
30) 4 July 2013: Beck: Song Reader Live First time Beck's songbook album, Song Reader was ever performed live in its entirety
Song Reader was an experiment in what an album might look like in the digital age: 20 songs, including two instrumentals, existing only as a book of sheet music, never before released or recorded. The songs were meant to come to life in a new golden age of home performance, leaving the listener, essentially, to be the performer. An eclectic mix of high profile musicians including Jarvis Cocker, Franz Ferdinand, Beth Orton, Charlotte Gainsbourg and The Mighty Boosh, came together for a very special night of live music, in which they performed the full Song Reader album for the first time.
31) 27–28 July 2013: Open East Festival First arts and learning event in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park following the 2012 Olympics.
To mark the first anniversary of the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Barbican, Create London and the London Legacy Development Corporation programmed a weekend of music, food, theatre, family fun and more. The weekend included performances by The Waterboys, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Fatoumata Diawara, Barbican Drum Works, LSO Discovery, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Boy Blue Entertainment, Graeae plus a host of entertainment including BMX riders, food markets, Art Car Boot Fair and an Urban Bazaar.
32) 12–13 September 2013: John Cale & Liam Young First drone orchestra featuring flying drones in the world
Set to explore and extend the link between art and technology like never before, LOOP>>60Hz offered an unprecedented experience as John Cale and his band perform music from across his catalogue, as Liam Young’s collection of drones escape their associations with surveillance and the military, becoming instead choreographed, disembodied instruments which take flight in the auditorium to create a profoundly immersive live music performance.
33) 12 February 2015: Young Orchestra for London First time an orchestra made up of young people from every London borough have been conducted by Sir Simon Rattle
Considered among the greatest conductors of all time, Sir Simon Rattle leads a brand new youth orchestra in 2015. He conducted the 100-piece mixed-ability Young Orchestra for London in two landmark performances at the Barbican and Southbank Centre. Young Orchestra for London was a joint education project between Southbank Centre and Barbican Guildhall in collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra. It formed part of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s 2015 London Residency.
34) 27 June 2015: Boredoms First time Boredoms perform one of their epic Boardrum concerts in the UK and the first such concert featuring 88 cymbal players.
Leading this ‘happening’ by his band, Boredoms, EYƎ is surrounded by waves of percussion. The experimental Japanese group direct one of the largest groups they’ve worked with yet in a sound-experience mixing the acoustic with the electronic. In a development of the Boardrum pieces, a guest ensemble of 88 cymbals create swirling, crashing music with synthesisers and EYƎ’s trademark unconventional vocals.
35) 5 August–31 October 2015: Sonia Friedman Productions: Hamlet First NT Live broadcast from the Barbican - and the biggest single NT Live broadcast to date, seen by over 550,000 people worldwide
Directed by Lyndsey Turner and produced by Sonia Friedman, Benedict Cumberbatch took on the title role in Shakespeare’s great tragedy for an exclusive twelve-week run of this compelling new production. It also welcomed our first ever NT Live broadcast from the Barbican Theatre, allowing audiences all over the world to experience the performance.