Next week sees the opening of another new concert venue in London. Kings Place is a new building on York Way, next to the Regent's Canal. The building houses a pair of concert halls as well as an Art Gallery. This is London's first purpose built concert hall since the Barbican opened. And before you start quibbling Cadogan Hall in Sloane Square, admirable though it is, isn't purpose built, it started out life as a Christian Scientist Church.
Kings Place houses not only the concert hall and art gallery but is home to the London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
You might consider whether London needs another concert hall, but Kings Place seems to be firmly geared towards the chamber music side of things. The larger hall seats some 400 people (for comparison the Wigmore Hall seats 537 people). The introduction of the Barbican and the Cadogan Halls has shown that London seems to be able to support multiple halls. If King's Place's lively opening programme is anything to go by, they should have an interesting time of it.
There is an opening Festival from 1st to 5th October with the various venues in the centre resounding to multiple concerts each day. Their programme for the next 3 months has been published. It is arranged around themes for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings. Mondays are devoted to Spoken Word, Tuesdays to experimental music curated by a variety of musicians such as Graham Fitkin and the spnm. Sundays are their regular chamber music evenings where the London Chamber Music Society's long running concert series comes to rest (having been at Conway Hall since 1929).
Another strand is a series of festivals such as Beethoven Unwrapped, which features the Orion String Quartet, Jean Bernard Pommier (playing all the Sonatas in chronological order) and films of major performances. There is also the London Guitar Festival with a bewildering 20 events. The Aldeburgh Festival are bringing a small selection from this year's festival including a concert performance of The Rape of Lucretia and a concert of music for violin and piano by Stravinsky given by Anthony Marwood and Thomas Ades.
Then in November their is a festival celebrating Norwegian Jazz. Further on in December, Ian Page's Classical Opera Company take residence for a week, giving us a series of Mozart based events including his fifth opera, Ascanio in Alba. Rather more interesting than this (sorry, I've never found Ascanio very interesting), is a programme exploring Mozart's childhood links to London. We also get Haydn in London with another mini-festival exploring the chamber music Haydn wrote for London. The festival is directed by Peter Cropper, formerly in the Lindsay Quartet. Here he plays piano trios with Moray Welsh and Martin Roscoe, as well as the Chilingirian Quartet giving us the late quartets.
This first programme finishes with a Roald Dahl festival, involving a variety of childhood themed works.
One noticeable absentee from this season is choral and vocal music. I know you can probably find vocal events in the brochure but the emphasis does seem to be on chamber music, perhaps in deference to the way that the Wigmore Hall rather defines itself by its song recitals. One area they might like to explore is the possibility of redefining the song recital, rather than ignoring it or simply cloning them.
To a certain extend this first quarter's concerts feel like someone putting as much together as possible and seeing what sticks. The themed days of the week are a good idea if they can attract a regular following. As there is an art gallery on site, it will be interesting to see if some synergy can be created here.
I must admit that the programme has a little too much main stream classical chamber music for my taste, but then I'm rather heretical when it comes to Mozart and Beethoven piano sonatas. Still there is much of interest and I have managed to circle a few events which look outstanding.