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Exhibition Road Music Day

An annual day of celebration for music hosted on Exhibition Road 

Music Day took place on Exhibition Road between 2005 and 2012 in partnership with our Exhibition Road Cultural Group (ERCG) members and as part of the renowned international festival Fête de la Musique. World Music Day is celebrated on every 21st of June all over the world - on the mid-summer solstice and all concerts and events are free and accessible to the public. As London’s contribution to Music Day, the event put Exhibition Road at the heart of the city’s cultural life on midsummer’s day.

Throughout the day at mainly indoor but also some outdoor venues around the Exhibition Road area, there were a lively and colourful mix of performances from amateur and professional musicians alike. Performing in a whole range of music genres all celebrating the diversity of international cultures in an accessible and creative way. The celebrations included educational music workshops for adults and children.

Music Day Objectives

- To deliver a free music festival on the nearest Sunday to 21st June in the public spaces of Exhibition Road and ERCG member institutions.
- Festival themes to be centred on arts and science and internationalism.
- To encourage new audiences to participate in cultural activities at Exhibition Road and to deepen the cultural experience of existing audiences.
- To provide a platform for live musical performance and participative workshops.
- To reinterpret the collections, archives and resources of the ERCG member institutions through live music.
- To pilot innovative research and development opportunities for artists in partnership with ERCG member organisations, for example, using archives for inspiration.                                                                                      - To encourage audiences to visit multiple organisations on Music Day.    

Music Day 2005

The first Exhibition Road Music Day was a huge success, drawing crowds of more than 10,000 to over seventy free musical events – from jazz and samba in Hyde Park and electronic installations at the Science Museum to Central Asian music and storytelling at the Ismaili Centre. The V&A hosted a range of musical events from classical to experimental & German jazz to Irish rock.

Exhibition Road presented a day and night filled with special music performances - all were welcome and performances were live and free.

Music Day 2006

This year’s event featured acts such as the BBC Singers - UK's leading chamber choir, Lo'Jo described by The Independent as "probably one of the best live bands in the world right now”, Sonar Kollektiv's electronica artist Sirius Mo, award winning Zone One Brass Band, The Upraw, Dominique A - a figurehead for nouvelle chanson scene, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Kakeashi Koto Ensemble.Renowned cellist, Julian Lloyd Webber remarked: “As a long-time resident of South Kensington, I am thrilled to be involved with Exhibition Road Music Day, a special event that brings live music free to so many people in this unique part of London”. 2006 received 14,500 visitors, receiving comments like:
        ‘This event will enlighten children’s musical awareness.’
        ‘It was excellent – the quality is so strong and the diversity so great’

Music Day 2007

A collaboration between the cultural institutions on Exhibition Road combined once again to create an exciting and varied programme of some 65 free public concerts on 22 outdoor and indoor stages. Visitors had the opportunity to participate in a number of workshops run by leading musicians. A hands-on participation programme was arranged for school children who enjoyed everything from DJ-ing to getting their hands on a set of drumsticks and making music!

Music Day 2008

'Explore Sites and Sounds' was a celebration of music and architecture in and around Exhibition
Road. This year, Music Day welcomed the London Festival of Architecture to Exhibition Road as a festival partner.

On 21st June Exhibition Road was closed to create a vibrant cultural event, with a wide range of fun and informative activities from musical and architectural workshops, installations in the street and in the Exhibition Road Tunnel and over 150 live musical performances. Musical highlights included workshops with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bollywood Dance workshops, world electronica act Bibi Tanga, the BBC Concert Orchestra and The Classical and Fusion Indian Music Ensemble. German electro punk act IA performed in Prince’s Gardens, and alternative indie pop band British Sea Power inside the Natural History Museum. Architectural highlights included temporary installations by Foster + Partners, Tonkin Liu, 6A, Dixon Jones, the Royal College of Art and others. Florence and The Machine also caused a stir among the public when she performed on stage as a part of the festival.

The festival trumped previous years at a total of an estimated over 70,000 visitors.

Music Day 2009

Musical highlights this year were vocal performances including Davey Sicard, Krystle Warren and Sophie Delila, one of the most dynamic new soul singers of the decade.
In addition to the musical performances, the festival included numerous activities for the whole family to engage in. This year’s high points were: “Weapons of Sound”, a musical instruments workshop made out of recycled objects and junk, the True Heart Playback Theatre Company and Streetwise Opera.

More than half the 23,000 visitors to Music Day visited more than three institutions.

Music Day 2010

The 2010 Music Day focused on international culture and arts and science as its key themes. As part of Music Day the Exhibition Road Cultural Group this year commissioned three internationally renowned artists to create new musical compositions inspired by some of the road’s collections, archives and buildings.

Composer and installation artist Craig Vear included recorded voices from the Ismaili community for four performances on the Ismaili Centre roof garden. English Acoustic Collective, recognised as the one of the most innovative ensembles working in folk music, partnered with the Royal Geographical Society. The Collective performed a new work inspired by the society’s archive, images of which formed a visual aspect to their performance. The new compositions regenerated the atmosphere of the festival, demonstrating the relevance of Music Day in the context of contemporary music.

Over three quarters of visitors felt that having attended Music Day 2010 they were now more likely to visit the Exhibition Road again.

Music Day 2012

After taking a break in 2011, Exhibition road Music Day returned in 2012 as the largest project ERCG had delivered to date.

This year, as well as association with Fete de la Musique, the event formed one of the major elements of the larger ERCG project, Supersonix – a celebration of the art and science of sound. Supersonix had three central elements: a three-day international conference and partnership with the Society for Literature, Science and The Arts Europe; a series of visiting professorships and artists in residence at the RCA, Science Museum and V&A; and Music Day.

Highlights included platinum-selling French soul sensation Imany and Ska Cubano, who brought their infectious combination of Jamaican Ska fused with the music of Cuba to the Kensington Gardens stage.


Music Day 2008
Music Day 2008
Music Day 2009, Ismaili Centre
Music Day 2009, Ismaili Centre
Techtonics, Music Day 2010
Techtonics performing at Imperial College London, Music Day 2010
Music in conjunction with BBC Blast at the V&A
Roll Deep & Rox in conversation with BBC Blast at the V&A, Music Day 2010
Revolver at Institut francais, Music Day 2010
Revolver at Institut francais, Music Day 2010
Royal Geographical Society Family Workshop
Royal Geographical Society Family Workshop, Music Day 2010

Tobias Strumer at Goethe-Institut
Tobias Strurmer at Goethe-Institut © Glen Arkadieff
Royal College of Music Gamelan Workshop, Music Day 2012
Royal College of Music Gamelan Workshop, Music Day 2012
Kathak Indian Dance, Music Day 2012
Kathak Indian Dance, Music Day 2012
ENO Community Choir, Music Day 2012
ENO Community Choir, Music Day 2012
IMANY, Kensington Gardens Stage, Music Day 2012
IMANY, Kensington Gardens Stage, Music Day 2012