The 2015/16 season at St John’s Smith Square (SJSS) was heralded by real trumpets as two members of the London Mozart Players performed Stravinsky’s Fanfare for a New Theatre.
I like St John’s very much as a venue. A short walk from Westminster and nestled amongst government offices, it is London’s only Baroque concert hall (designed by Thomas Archer and completed in 1728), though its programmes feature a broad repertoire of music from early to uber-contemporary. As a former church, it boasts a fine acoustic and I have enjoyed some excellent piano recitals there, including concerts by Paul Badura-Skoda, Claire Hammond and Richard Uttley.
For 2015/16, SJSS becomes the temporary home of the International Piano Series (IPS), normally resident at the Southbank Centre, which is undergoing a much-needed upgrade. Highlights of the new IPS season include concerts by established artists such as Steven Osborne, Nikolai Demidenko, Jean-Efllam Bavouzet and Imogen Cooper as well as younger, up-and-coming pianists. My highlights from this series are concerts by Denis Koshukhin (music by Haydn, Brahms, Bartok, Liszt and Wagner trans. Lisz), Lukas Geniušas (Beethoven, Brahms, Bartok and Prokofiev), Steven Osborne (Schubert, Debussy, Rachmaninoff) and Tamara Stefanovich (Copland, Carter, Ives). Full details about the series here
The major season highlight for me is Warren Mailley-Smith‘s 11-concert survey of Chopin’s complete solo piano music, commencing in September 2015. The concerts have a broadly chronological thread running through them, while each will explore a particular aspect of Chopin’s oeuvre, including the Mazurkas, Etudes, Ballades, Scherzi and ever-popular Preludes. This promises to be a real treat for audiences and a marathon undertaking for Warren, who by his own admission, adores this music and is looking forward to a year of total immersion in Chopin. (A detailed preview of the series and an interview with Warren will appear in a later post.)
Fast-forward to today, and Rolf Hind’s fascinating and eclectic Occupy the Pianos festival returns to SJSS in September. 10 concerts over 3 days feature brand new works together with music by Morton Feldman, John Cage and John Adams. Further information about the series here
There is yet more to excite pianophiles in an excellent series of lunchtime concerts, including recitals by the Françoise-Green Duo in which first meets second Viennese School alongside new commissions (21 January, 25 February, 31 March, 7 April, 12 May 2016), together with concerts by Viv McLean (1 October, with soprano Sarah Gabriel) and Joseph Houston (10 December, Debussy, Messiaen, Feldman, Liszt and new works by Colin Matthews and Simon Holt).
My 2015/16 diary is already very full!
Full details of the 2015/15 season at St John’s Smith Square here (including a link to download the new season brochure)