Review of 'The Cosmos with Professor Brian Cox'

Brian Cox and the BBC Symphony Orchestra


Professor Brian Cox believes that music and science are interdependent ways we use to make sense of the world. In this concert held live at the Barbican but also via live stream (the later of which was used by this reviewer) Cox and the orchestra would respond to one another in turn with Cox talking poetically about various aspects of science and the orchestra would then play a generally modern classical piece. The concert featured the work of Jean Sibelius (Symphony No 5, mv III), Charles Ives (The Unanswered Question) and Gustav Mahler (Symphony No 10).

Despite the good intentions of this event I can't say it really convinced on the premise: This was a concert by any other name with simply slightly longer introductions from a prominent scientist and featuring some rather pretty astronomical pictures on a video screen. The words did not tie in with the music though perhaps this was due to the choice of modern classical music with unfamiliar themes and discordant, jarring juxtapositions chords that never really seem to draw you in. Indeed, with the long running times of the musical sections and the relatively short talking segments we were long lost by the time Cox would return once again to the rostrum. I am a huge fan of Cox and think he expresses himself well and here though his words and thoughts were wonderful and thought provoking the music never really married to them – These were two completely disparate events superimposed over other rather unsuccessfully.

Interesting, but falling somewhat short of it's ambition. A disappointing concert that perplexes rather than enlightens.

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2020-12-13

Barbican Centre

Location: London (England)

Address: Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS, UK

Public Transport: TUBE Barbican TUBE Moorgate NRLOGO Moorgate

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7638 8891


The Barbican Centre is in the middle of the brutalist Barbican housing complex. The centre is a mixed-use arts venue with theatres, cinemas (in the basement), galleries and library as well as dining facility (both cafe, buffet and fine). The facilities are quite good and there is always something going on.

Regardless of how you get here you will probably end up walking through the Barbican so watch for the signs directing you to the Barbican Centre itself as the complex is quite large.