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Southbank Centre will host a year-long programme focused on what it means to be human

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In 2017 the Southbank Centre is running a year-long programme called Belief and Beyond Belief. The festival will consist of eight themed weekends, all of which explore in some way what it means to be human in the 21st Century.

The weekend themes will include The Search for the Meaning of Life. Throughout each weekend the themes will be explored through music, literature, performance and debates.

Some of those featured include Richard Holloway, Vladimir Jurowski, Sir Roger Norrington and Steven Hawking, who will discuss his proudest accomplishments as a physicist in Royal Festival Hall at one of the first events in January.

The majority of the music at the festival will come courtesy of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, who are devoting nearly all their concerts in 2017 (27 to be precise) to Belief and Beyond Belief.

Vladimir Jurowski, artistic director and conductor, says: ‘Through music inspired by spiritual belief and the search for something greater than ourselves, the festival attempts to ‘lay open the grandeur, enigma, and conflict in our search for, and understanding of, the divine.’


Belief and Beyond Belief try to encompass a range of scientific and religious viewpoints. Key talks at the festival include the former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway who, after panel discussion on The Search for the Meaning of Life, will host a frank discussion on his struggles with religion. Karen Armstrong will host the keynote speech for the themed weekend of ‘Is Religion Inherently Violent?’.

Some theatre will also be showcased across the year, including The Monkey Trial, which is based on the 1925 Scopes Trial. The Scopes Trial discussed the teachings of evolutionism versus creationism.

Not every event throughout the year will be free to attend, however there will be many events/activities which will be available free of charge. These include craft activities, yoga, mindfulness, workshops and a parade.

Ultimately the event is going to offer the public an opportunity to look at religion from many angles including its positive and negative contributions, and debate what it really means to be human and explore the ever illusive question of what the meaning of life truly is.




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