Belief and Beyond Belief

Being human in the 21st century

A Southbank Centre Festival of Music, Literature, Performance, Exhibition and Debate in partnership with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Vladimir Jurowski introduces Belief and Beyond Belief, a festival in collaboration with Southbank Centre, 2017.

Since the Age of Enlightenment and the subsequent revelations of science and technology, reason has challenged religious belief. Yet despite rational explanations for so many of religion’s core beliefs, the 21st century looks set to be defined by religion, often in extreme forms.

This seemingly innate need in so many people to find meaning for their lives and a sense of where they fit into the universe, with all its mystery and majesty, is a constant in all periods of human history. This combination of succour, sublime joy and the fear of eternal damnation has been one of the main sources of creative inspiration. It has produced some of the greatest music and art ever created as societies wrestled with the concept of the divine.

Belief and Beyond Belief explores the music, art, culture, science, ideology, ritual and traditions that have swirled around, informed and debated religion in its many guises.

The Festival also looks at the broader question of what it means to be human, what is the human spirit, what qualities separate us from the animal kingdom whether we involve religion or not. The Festival will look at challenges to religious belief and will ask which, if any, of the mores and rituals and practices of religious belief can be relevant and useful to the world in the 21st century. What are the risks to societies if they become more secular and how will that influence artists?

Nearly all of the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2017 Royal Festival Hall concerts will form part of this Festival, the first half of which falls within this season brochure. Alongside these concerts (January–May 2017) there will be a wide range of additional events including performances, lectures, debates, and literary events programmed by Southbank Centre, including the first five of eight weekends covering the great questions surrounding our experiences of life – and death:

  • The Search for the Meaning of Life (20–22 January)
  • Should Science depose Religion? (3–5 February)
  • The Quick and the Dead... How do we live with Death? (3–5 March)
  • Political Ideology and its impact on a Spiritual Life (7–9 April)
  • What has Religion ever done for Society? (5–7 May)

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