Artist in Residence announced: House of Absolute

House of Absolute, the Philharmonia's Artist in Residence 2021, on the stairs of the Southbank Centre, alongside players of the Philharmonia
  • Philharmonia Orchestra announces multidisciplinary arts company House of Absolute as Artists in Residence
  • First ever collaboration of its kind in the UK
  • Plans include digital and live creative ideas embodying a fresh approach to performance

Street Dance and Symphonies may seem like an unlikely combination, but when the Philharmonia Orchestra launched a call-out for a brand new Artist in Residence initiative last year, the applications came in thick and fast from all quarters of the performance sector. Founded in 2014, House of Absolute approached the opportunity with a confident vision for what might be possible when Hip Hop and contemporary dance styles, eclectic musical processes and experimentation with classical music, collide. Amongst the eight-strong company are vocalists, poets, choreographers and composers who have created performances and events for theatres, exhibitions, festivals, and the fashion industry, built on a foundation of equality, empowerment and inclusivity.

This is the first residency of its kind – a complementary combination of cultures that will generate an energy and excitement across worlds that had previously been mutually exclusive. Plans for the year are developing as House of Absolute push forward their vision of what they want to achieve from this collaboration:

Saskia Horton, Creative Producer, House of Absolute: “We envision a powerfully rich collaboration between House of Absolute and the Philharmonia with both entities’ incredible resources: the Orchestra’s irrefutable expertise in symphonic performance, digital innovation, and outreach, and our company’s technical dexterity and proficiency in traversing artistic disciplines including dance, music, theatre, writing, spoken word and digital art.” 

For the Philharmonia, this new residency will broaden the Orchestra’s artistic relationships, and tap into new ways of creating musically expressive, experiences for live and digital audiences. With the Orchestra’s Southbank Centre home closed for the time being, initial plans for the residency have had to adapt:

Ben Larpent, Director of Artistic Planning, Philharmonia Orchestra: “The Philharmonia Orchestra lives and breathes innovation: from virtual reality and digital installations through to this fresh collaboration with House of Absolute. This combination of artistic worlds and backgrounds will not be hampered by the ongoing pandemic. The Philharmonia and House of Absolute will continue to work tirelessly to innovate, change, and create, no matter what gets in our way.”

This exciting residency programme is a catalyst for commissioning a new creative work for players and performers – and of course for audiences – through live and digital events.

Julia Cheng, Founder and Creative Director & Ffion Campbell, Associate Director, House of Absolute: “We will advocate for the cultural origins and heritage of Street Dance styles, bring together the intersectionality of our artistic communities, and represent voices from sub-cultures as part of creative projects across the residency. A key outcome of this process will bring grassroots, multidisciplinary and Hip Hop enthusiasts together with classical concert regulars to experience something completely new.”

Ideas in the pipeline include making a film together, staging an orchestral club night, a weekend of talks and performances and more. The residency has time allocated for ideas to incubate and evolve. It’s an exciting prospect at a time when live performance is constrained.

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Clair Chamberlain, Bread and Butter PR