A chat with Isata Kanneh-Mason and Jonathan Bloxham

Beethoven and Mendelssohn with Isata Kanneh-Mason at St John’s Smith Square

Friday 3 November 2023

Isata Kanneh-Mason piano
Jonathan Bloxham conductor
Ruth Rogers leader
London Mozart Players (LMP)
Arvo Pärt Cantus in Memorium Benjamin Britten
Anna Clyne Stride
Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No.1
Beethoven Symphony No.5

Before our concert together at St John’s Smith Square, we sat down with our soloist Isata Kanneh-Mason and conductor Jonathan Bloxham to talk about the concert, the music, and pre-concert rituals…

Isata Kanneh-Mason

  1. Can you tell us about your favourite moment in the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto?
    It’s the opening.  It’s so dramatic and exciting and I like the way the piano states its presence. Actually I also have another moment in the second movement where the piano is playing slow chords and there is a solo cello line – the harmonies there are so incredibly beautiful.
  2. We performed the Mendelssohn two years ago with you at Cadogan Hall. How does it feel to be playing this piece together again?
    It’s really lovely to perform this piece with the same group of people.  I feel I have developed as a musician over the last two years so it will be nice to be able to bring something different to the performance.
  3. Do you have a pre-concert ritual, and if so, what is it?
    I try not to stick to a specific pre-concert ritual in case I don’t have time. I always make sure I stretch, warm up my fingers and drink water. I don’t tend to eat too much before going on stage as I don’t want to feel full. And I also put away my phone quite a while before a performance as well, so there are no distractions!

Jonathan Bloxham

  1. In your role as Conductor in Residence and Artistic Advisor of LMP, you developed the programme for this concert. Can you explain how you chose the pieces and put them together?
    Programming is one of the great joys of my work as a conductor, and devising each programme comes with its own intellectual or emotional journey. The inspiration for this concert began with Mendelssohn. Not only a prodigious composer, he was also a virtuosic pianist, and as a young boy he discovered and formed a deep appreciation of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. From then on Beethoven’s music had a huge influence on his own compositions, and Mendelssohn continued to perform the master’s works throughout his life. In 1847, the year of his death, he took his final visit to Britain and performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. This ties in themes of London, Mendelssohn, the piano and Beethoven. Taking the second two of these we arrive at Anna Clyne’s wonderful piece – Stride – a piece for strings based on the themes from Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata. And finally, our opening piece, Pärt’s Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten is not only one of the most atmospheric openings of a concert, but it is also a little nod to the 110th Anniversary of Britten’s birth. This is a programme I adore.
  1. Beethoven’s Symphony No.5 is such an iconic work. How do you take on the challenge of conducting it?
    It is of course an iconic work to play as well as conduct! Even just the opening is an infamously treacherous moment for us all. But what an honour it is to have the chance to perform this majestic piece with LMP. For me personally, it was in the second half of the very first symphonic concert I conducted as a student and so brings back many memories. This piece has taught me a great deal about the craft of conducting.
  1. You’re also conducting Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto, which will be played by Isata Kanneh-Mason. What’s the relationship like between the conductor, soloist and orchestra when performing this piece?
    Every player in the LMP is a fantastic chamber musician. And every time they perform, be it with or without a conductor, they are making chamber music. And so it is no different when a soloist joins. As a conductor in this scenario I feel my role is to help focus all our listening, to facilitate the connection between soloist and orchestra and to be a conduit for the flow of ideas between them…and adding a few of my own now and then too!

LMP, conducted by Jonathan Bloxham, play Beethoven and Mendelssohn with Isata Kanneh-Mason on 3 November 2023. Tickets can be purchased here.

100 Faces of Croydon

Welcoming George White as our Viola No.5

George grew up in the South West and was immersed in music from an early age, singing in his local church choir and later as a chorister at Salisbury Cathedral. He went on to hold a scholarship at Wells Cathedral School, later gaining a place at the Royal Academy of Music where he studied with Garfield Jackson. An alumnus of Southbank Sinfonia, George now freelances with ensembles across the UK and Europe, including us, the Philharmonia, Paraorchestra and Friends, the European Union Chamber Orchestra, La Folia and the Edington Ensemble. George was also a Monteverdi Apprentice – he worked closely with mentors from the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and Sir John Eliot Gardiner on historical performance practice. He now performs with period groups such as the ORR, the Dunedin Consort, Oxford Bach Soloists, Eboracum, Sounds Baroque and Hampstead Garden Opera.

Our 23/24 Season Announcement

It’s our 75th birthday next year, and our 23/24 season is all about reflecting on how we’ve developed out artistic and community-based work over the years.

Flynn Le Brocq, LMP Chief Executive, commented:

“As we celebrate 75 years of music making, we’re using this season to look back on our past and particularly on our historic connection with Croydon. The Launch of the London Borough of Culture in 2023 gave us a chance to re-establish ourselves firmly in the local community and further develop our partnership with Fairfield Halls and we’re looking forward to another year of adventurous and exciting programmes.

Jonathan Bloxham, LMP Conductor-in-Residence and Artistic Advisor, commented:

“I am thrilled to share the 23/24 season with our audiences today – a programme that celebrates our wonderful musicians and the impressively wide range of work that LMP is known for. In this birthday season, it is exciting to welcome so many top soloists to share the stage with us, many of whom have a long-standing relationship with the ensemble. This season is extra special for me as I begin my first full year as Conductor-in-Residence and Artistic Advisor – I can’t wait to be back on stage with LMP in the Autumn!”

Our season opens with Story of the Fair Field (Saturday 7 October 2023, Fairfield Halls), featuring Matilda Lloyd, one of our Education Ambassadors, as the soloist for Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat. The live narrator and music in this concert, which includes Malcolm Arnold’s inaugural composition for the opening of Fairfield Halls in 1962, The Fair Field, traces through Fairfield Halls’ history as a bustling medieval fair and our history as an orchestra set up to play Haydn and Mozart.

Pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason joins us for Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No.1 in Beethoven and Mendelssohn (Friday 3 November 2023, St John’s Smith Square). Jonathan Bloxham also conducts our orchestra through Beethoven’s Symphony No.5, Anna Clyne’s Stride and Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten.

Isata Kanneh-Mason commented:

“Performing with LMP is always something I look forward to and this next season is no exception when I’m thrilled to be playing Mendelssohn’s brilliant Piano Concerto No1. It’s an immediately engrossing work with its explosive start and wonderfully captivating melodies threaded through the flamboyant piano part – I can’t wait to start playing it to a live audience!”

In the leadup to Christmas, we’re presenting A Very Croydon Christmas in partnership with Fairfield Halls (Friday 8 December 2023, Fairfield Halls), featuring a festive selection of music with local choirs and performers taking to the stage.

Mozart: The Mixtape (Saturday 10 February 2024, Fairfield Halls) celebrates our birthday with a recreation of the Mozart’s ‘playlist’ concert from 1783. Pianists Imogen Cooper and Martin James Bartlett and soprano Anna Prohaska join us as the soloists for this concert. This concert will also include a selection of short videos which reflect on our legacy and look forwards to their future.

Imogen Cooper commented:

“My history with LMP goes back a long way – I won the Mozart Memorial Prize, now revived, in the late 60s, which lead me to many wonderful concerto performances with Harry Blech; I could safely say that my early Mozart performing experience came almost solely through this collaboration, and I learned a lot from it. Happily the association continued with Jane Glover, with whom I now play regularly in the US. So LMP has been only a source for the good, and I am happy to be playing with them again – not least the gorgeous K415 in C major!”

Tasting Notes, our musical wine tasting experience, returns to St John’s Smith Square with three dates this season (11 October 2023, 16 February 2024, 4 April 2024). In each event, we will pair a selection of wines with music for string quartet, accompanied by lively talks from a wine expert and LMP Leader, Simon Blendis, followed by live jazz music in the Crypt.

Continuing his 48-year-long relationship with LMP, Howard Shelley returns for another series of Mozart Explored at St Paul’s Knightsbridge (January 2024-May 2024). Howard directs the orchestra from the piano through Mozart’s final five Piano Concertos (No.23 – No.27), preceding each Concerto with an insightful talk about the music.

Our community residencies in in Upper Norwood and the South East coast continue in this season. The winning composer of our new award, the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Prize, will have their work performed as part of Music Through the Ages (Saturday 27 January, St Johns, Upper Norwood). The prize, which is part of our Equal Play campaign, has been created to support young composers from underrepresented backgrounds.

Other concerts in our Upper Norwood series include a children’s concert, The Musical Adventures of Stan the Dog & Mabel the Cat (Saturday 8 June 2024, St John’s, Upper Norwood), and Eleanor Alberga’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Musical Revolting Rhyme (Saturday 6 April 2024, St John’s, Upper Norwood).

We’re working with Create Music, the lead partner of the Music Education Hub in Brighton & Hove and East Sussex, to deliver education projects in the South East. Students from Create Music perform alongside us in Christmas Crackers with LMP (Thursday 14 December 2023, De La Warr Pavilion) and Marvellous Maestros includes a selection GCSE set-works to help local students prepare for their exams (Friday 22 March 2024, De La Warr Pavilion).

Full details of the season can be found on this page.

Alan Thomas

Welcoming Alan Thomas as our Principal Trumpet

Alan is a former Principal Trumpet of both the BBC Symphony Orchestra and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra performing under Conductors Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelson’s. He is also a member of two of the countries leading brass chamber groups in Onyx Brass and Septura Brass Septet.

He is a Trumpet Professor at the Royal College of Music and Tutor at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He is also a trumpet tutor to the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. 

During his studies Alan was Principal of the European Union Youth Orchestra and a winner of the Shell/LSO Scholarship where he performed the Hummel Trumpet Concerto with the LSO in the final at The Barbican. 

During the Covid Pandemic Alan joined Royal Air Force Music Services and is currently Principal Trumpet of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. During this time he’s been part of the State Funerals of HM Queen Elizabeth and HM Duke of Edinburgh, The Platinum Jubilee Celebrations and was in the RAF Fanfare Team in Westminster Abbey for The Coronation of King Charles III. 

In any spare time Alan loves keeping fit, running and cycling, being outdoors and spending time with his very patient wife Amy (a viola player in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) and three sons. 

London Borough of Culture Showcase – Sunday 2 April

Sunday 2 April
Free performances from 2-6pm
Fairfield Halls

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As part of the opening weekend celebrations for Croydon’s year as London Borough of Culture we’re hosting a free afternoon showcase in the public open spaces of Fairfield Halls featuring local talent from across Croydon, including choirs, sea shanties, solo performances, dance groups and bands.

Bloch’s Building Blocks

BLOCK 1

Ernest Bloch was a Swiss-born composer who gained popularity in the 20th century. As with most composers, he went through something of an identity crisis as he tried to find his unique musical voice. We’d like to think of his life as a series of Building Blocks that led him to writing the music that you can hear in Building Blochs and Birkenstocks on Saturday 4 February at Fairfield Halls.

BLOCK 2

On 24 July 1880, Ernest Bloch was born in Geneva to Maurice and Sophie Bloch, both of whom were of Jewish heritage. The young Ernest was a keen musician, first picking up the violin aged 9 and starting to compose soon after. Ernest had a strong religious upbringing; Maurice had even intended to become a rabbi at one stage and this influence can be heard in his later music.

Ernest had a desire to travel and moved to Germany in 1903. During his Germanic years, he began his lifelong confrontation with issues of spirituality and religion. His compositional style up to this point spoke to post-romantic influences including Debussy, Mahler and Strauss but he began to break away from this from 1911-26. Commonly referred to as his ‘Jewish Cycle’ (although not titled this by the composer himself), the compositions in these years marked a turning point for the young composer and included Schelomo and ‘Prayer’.

BLOCK 3

The ‘Jewish Cycle’ put Ernest on the musical map, but the composer had his own feelings about how his music should be interpreted:

‘It is not my purpose, not my desire, to attempt a ‘reconstitution’ of Jewish music or to base my works on melodies more or less authentic. It is the Jewish soul that interests me…In my work termed Jewish…I have listened to an inner voice, deep, secret, insistent, ardent…a voice which seemed to come from far beyond myself, far beyond my parents…a voice which surged up in me upon reading certain passages in the Bible…This entire Jewish heritage moved me deeply; it was reborn in my music. To what extent it is Jewish or to what extent is it just Ernest Bloch, of that I know nothing. The future alone will decide.

BLOCK 4

Bloch is gaining more and more recognition as time goes on. He received acclaim, prizes and honour during his lifetime and his music was performed regularly. His best-known works are becoming popular with a whole host of orchestras, including us! You may not have known much about him before, but we hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about the man and his music.

Mendelssohn and his Birkenstocks

(Other shoe brands are available)

In his early twenties, Felix Mendelssohn did what most of us dream of doing and packed his bags, donned his Birkenstocks, waved goodbye to his home country Germany and set off on a grand tour of Italy. He spent nine months as a proper tourist: seeing the sights, speaking the language very badly and getting scammed by his taxi driver.

For anyone else, such an experience would be complete. But the former child prodigy Mendelssohn strove valiantly to make his holiday into a research trip. Five months into his stay, he wrote to his sister:

I now try to reflect whether I have made the best use of my time, and on every side I perceive a deficiency. If I could only compose one of my two symphonies! I must and will reserve the Italian one till I have seen Naples, which must play a part in it.

Mendelssohn’s Fourth Symphony, known as the ‘Italian’, was completed two years later. Each of its four movements corresponds to a different city he saw on his trip. For those of us unable to embark on our own continental tours, listening to Mendelssohn’s ‘Italian’ Symphony is the next best thing.

 

Venice to meet you

(First movement, Allegro vivace)

Mendelssohn’s first stop was Venice. His first impressions were ‘the whole country had a gay festive air, as if a Prince were expected to make his grand entry’. Prince or no prince, the people welcomed Mendelssohn anyway and his letters brim with delight at finally being in Italy.

Venice was always busy. When Mendelssohn went to the Piazza of St Mark, he observed that ‘in the twilight there is always an immense crowd and crush of people’. There was plenty to see and do as well: ‘I hurry from one enjoyment to another hour by hour,’ he wrote.

The lively opening movement recalls the busy streets that greeted Mendelssohn on his arrival, as well as the energy he expounded in his indefatigable visiting of local galleries, palaces, gardens and churches.

 

There’s no place like Rome

(Second movement, Andante con moto)

Mendelssohn’s stay in Rome coincided with the death of Pius VIII, who has the dubious honour of being the shortest-ruling pope of the nineteenth century. The people of Rome took the news rather lightly, telling themselves: “We shall soon get a new one”.

Mendelssohn went to St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican where the Pope lay in state. He wrote:

Those who place themselves among the singers (as I do) and watch them, are forcibly impressed by the scene: for they all stand round a colossal book from which they sing, and this book is in turn lit up by a colossal torch that burns before it; while the choir are eagerly pressing forward in their vestments, in order to see and to sing properly.

The ‘simple and monotonous’ music he heard here no doubt influenced the slow and restrained second movement.

 

Going with the Flo(rence)

(Third movement, Con moto moderato)

Florence syndrome is a slightly dubious condition where people faint upon seeing sights of great beauty. In Florence, Mendelssohn frequented the Uffizi Gallery, a prime spot for aesthetically charged swooning. His own health remained intact, but he did report ‘feelings of reverence’ when sitting at his favourite spot.

Mendelssohn encountered many who had low opinions of Titian and Mozart. He found these impertinent, writing: ‘I am at all events determined to say the most harsh and cutting things to those who show no reverence towards their masters’. His own work was openly indebted to the Classical tradition that came before him.

The third movement of the ‘Italian’ Symphony is set as a stately minuet and trio in the style of Mozart. It pays homage to his musical predecessors, Renaissance painters and their shared elegant style.

 

See Naples and die

(Fourth movement, Saltarello. Presto)

The final stretch of Mendelssohn’s Italian journey saw him leaving Rome for the south. He applied his usual shrewdness to the new sights there, writing:

Yesterday we went to Pompeii. It looks as if it had been burnt down.

But it was in the local traditions of the more rural south that Mendelssohn found his inspiration for the finale of his ‘Italian’ Symphony. He wrote ‘lively Naples is indeed a pleasant contrast’ to ashy Pompeii and he spent many evenings there dancing the night away with village girls, with the sweet sounds of the accordion for accompaniment.

The final movement of Mendelssohn’s ‘Italian’ Symphony is based on the saltarello, an Italian folk dance popular in the south. Its relentlessly high tempo barrels towards an exuberant finish, concluding Mendelssohn’s colourful nine months in Italy.

 

LMP play Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4, ‘Italian’ at Fairfield Halls, Croydon, on Saturday 4 February 2023. Tickets can be purchased here.

 

by Jessica Peng

A Deep Dive Into Handel’s ‘Messiah’

Quick: name a choral piece! Did you say Handel’s ‘Messiah’?

It’s one of the most famous pieces of classical music ever, but how much do you really know about its origins and history? We asked Thomas Allery, organist and harpsichordist, some questions about the original ‘Messiah’ and its influence today. Read on to be enlightened and informed…

‘Messiah’ was originally orchestrated for two trumpets, timpani, two oboes, two violins, viola and basso continuo. Subsequent performances have been much bigger, with orchestras numbering well into the hundreds. Can you say a little about the size and scope of ‘Messiah’? 

‘Messiah’ is one of those pieces of choral/orchestral music which can work successfully with almost any size and combination of instrumental forces, and the performance history of the piece shows the complete range! Even today, performances range in size hugely from large scale performances with large choruses and a corresponding large orchestra (often in large venues), to smaller, more intimate versions. It says something about the piece that it is so successful and appealing to audiences in almost any configuration.

In fact, my own first experience of ‘Messiah’ was at a local ‘come and sing’ performance with organ only – also very successful, but a bit of a work out for one organist! The almost entirely unbroken performance tradition of the work means that it has always been able to expand or contract to suit venues and ensembles, not to mention changing tastes over the centuries…

For instance, in the nineteenth century, amateur choral societies flourished across England, and with that, the tradition of large scale performances grew. At this time, new orchestrations and arrangements grew out of the practical needs for new bigger performance forces, including a new orchestration by Mozart and many arrangements for organ accompaniment. Mid nineteenth-century performances in London, such as those at Crystal Palace, had choirs of several thousand voices and huge orchestras numbering 500!

These days, many performances are of a smaller number of singers and players which can be a little more intimate and with a chamber feel – including with directors playing the continuo themselves.

We think of ‘Messiah’ as an oratorio, but Handel had spent much of his career writing Italian operas until this point. Where does ‘Messiah’ sit amongst the musical genres of its time? 

That’s an interesting question as it gets us into the heart of London’s musical life in the middle of the eighteenth century. Handel made huge success as a composer of Italian opera. He travelled to Italy, the heart of the operatic world, early in his life and then had great success with Italian operas such as ‘Agrippina’ (1709) and ‘Rinaldo’ (1711). London was a great melting pot of styles when Handel settled here permanently in 1712, and yes, Italian opera was very popular at this time (also think about the orchestras in the opera houses – full of players and budding composers from across Europe).

Despite this success, Italian opera had always had its highs and lows in London but it began to have severe difficulties in the 1720s – this was mainly because audiences preferred works in English and with a less ornate style, and there was also difficulty in retaining Italian singers to sing them. Composers have always had to move with the times and write what their audiences wanted to hear, and Handel turned his attention to oratorios. Handel had already written Italian oratorios in Rome, and his first English oratorio was in 1718 (‘Esther’). His other oratorios (now also regularly performed) such as ‘Saul’ and ‘Israel in Egypt’ were written just before ‘Messiah’, and also had librettos by Charles Jennens, so they already had a close and successful working relationship. Jennens proposed his libretto for ‘Messiah’ expressing that he hoped that Handel would write a work as powerful as the text demanded – and he did.

‘Messiah’ was premiered in Dublin, but the London performance was more controversial because it was performed in a secular venue, even though its text is drawn from scriptures. When it was advertised, it was called ‘a sacred oratorio’ rather than ‘Messiah’, so we have a glimpse into a world in which the labelling of a new piece, and signalling its genre was important. The libretto is based on themes rather than plot-driven like an opera. So, in terms of genre, it is definitely an oratorio, but written by the hand of a composer who could lend his hand to so many genres, and we often hear the same unmistakable style as we might hear in the opera house.

The original ‘Messiah’ featured some celebrity soloists (Susannah Cibber, the alto). What is the relationship like between soloists and the chorus throughout the piece? 

The role of the chorus seems to change a little through the piece. The chorus does not interact with the soloists as they might in an opera, but Handel seems to use the chorus to reinforce important lines within the scriptures. We should remember that the choice of solo voice or chorus is in itself a decision and an interpretation of the text. At some moments, such as in ‘Hallelujah’ or ‘Worthy is the Lamb’ they seem to represent the voice of the whole world united in praise and thanks, whilst in the middle section, the chorus could be seen to have the role of the crowd, more like in Bach’s ‘Passions’. The first time the chorus sings in ‘And the Glory of the Lord shall be revealed’ is an incredibly powerful moment: coming from the stormy overture into the promises of the opening tenor movements and then into the light. To me, the lightness, the rhythm, and imitations in this movement represent light coming into the world and illuminating everything. There, the sound of the chorus opens up the soundscape to represent the light. Throughout the piece, the placement of the chorus movements punctuate the piece perfectly, and drive the drama on, all adding to the narrative.

Can you explain why the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus is so catchy, memorable and popular?  

It’s got to be the marriage of the text with music. From the outset, Handel captures the natural rhythm and shape of the most joyful word in our language “Hallelujah”. When you say this word aloud, the rhythm of the text is exactly what Handel notates. When you hear this piece, it is as though you are singing it too – it’s infectious.

The movement has a masterful use of harmonic tension and progression. Here Handel is almost like a film composer, pacing the phrases and progressions so you somehow know where it is going, but in which the listener is taken on a journey. The long progression up from ‘King of Kings’ feels like a huge progression through several keys, each with a particular harmonic colour. However many times you have heard it or performed it, it’s always an amazing movement which takes on a different life each time.

And finally, why do you think ‘Messiah’ is still so popular today?

There are many answers for this question! Where to start? The piece was designed to be accessible, direct in its expression, and powerful for a London audience, and this legacy and connection seems to live on. It’s a work that has not been forgotten.

It’s interesting here to think about the charity tradition surrounding the piece which I think contributes to its popularity even today. The first performance in 1742 (in Dublin) was in support of three charities: for prisoners, for a hospital, and for an infirmary. The compositional circumstances of a piece of music can always be felt somehow, even centuries on. You can feel the devotion, the positivity and the values behind it – in that regard perhaps different to in Handel’s operas which were written as commercial entertainments. Handel had a close relationship with the Foundling Hospital and started the annual performances there in 1750, and which continued after his death with John Stanley, and then eventually developed through the nineteenth century into a history of associating music performances with charitable giving, especially at Christmas. Somehow the balance in terms of themes and music lends itself so well to new audiences too. There is just the right balance between solos and chorus, between keys, between light and dark, between recitative and aria, and so on.

Then there is its association with amateur music making across the years. For any choir, Messiah is a great and satisfying challenge, and one that doesn’t get tired. Many, many people have therefore performed at least extracts from it. How many other major works is that the case with?

Then I guess there is the seasonal element! Messiah is closely associated with Christmas, and choirs are more popular at Christmas time, with lots of people enjoying joining in with carols and hearing music which tells the Christmas story.

Hear LMP perform ‘Messiah 360’, our version of the classic with a twist, on Saturday 17 December 2022 at Fairfield Halls, Croydon. Thomas Allery joins us as the harpsichordist and director for this concert. Tickets and more information can be found here.

Equal Play: Our New Education Ambassadors Scheme to Bring Accessible Music Education to Croydon

Driven by the belief that every young person should have the chance to hear and play live music, we’ve launched a brand-new education programme called Equal Play. Building on our 30-year history of delivering education work in Croydon, we’re is working with a number of Education Ambassadors to help tackle the issue of young people not having ongoing access to arts education. At the forefront of the scheme are LMP Education Ambassadors Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Jess Gillam, Matilda Lloyd and our Young-Artist-in-Residence, Leia Zhu.

The Education Ambassadors will serve as advocates for LMP’s community work to help engage children and young people. The young ambassadors, all aged between 16 and 27, will take part in a variety of education activities including workshops, masterclasses and careers insights days with students and serve as peer inspiration for young people. As part of the wider scheme, we will also offer free and discounted tickets to children and young people for our flagship Fairfield Halls season, access to free musical instruments through our Instrument Amnesty Scheme and side-by-side performance mentoring with LMP musicians.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cello:

“I’ve long been a big admirer of the LMP and its education work and so it’s a great feeling to join them in a more official role as Education Ambassador. I’m looking forward to working more closely with them, and in the community.”

Matilda Lloyd, trumpet:

“I’m absolutely delighted to be an Education Ambassador for LMP and am very proud to be representing the trumpet and brass instruments! The importance of music and the arts in the lives of young people is often underestimated. From my own personal experience, music allows young people to express themselves creatively, it unifies and creates a sense of community and belonging, it increases confidence levels, it teaches important skills such as collaboration, communication, resilience, and determination, and most importantly, it is great fun.”

Leia Zhu, violin:

“I am extremely honoured to have been appointed Education Ambassador by LMP. Classical music, and the arts as a whole, is facing many challenges at the moment and it is harder than ever for young people to access high-quality music education. And yet, classical music has so much to offer. It can inspire creativity, promote teamwork, and instil a love of learning. I believe that every child deserves the opportunity to experience the joy of making music, and I am committed to working with LMP to make this a reality.”

Jess Gillam, saxophone:

“LMP are so passionate about giving young people access to high quality music education and exposing young people to the wonders of the orchestra.  I care deeply about this too and so I am very excited to join LMP as one of their Education Ambassadors! I am looking forward to working together to reach as many young people as possible through LMP’s Equal Play programme.”

Identified by Arts Council England as the 5th highest for need and the 4th highest for opportunity out of the London boroughs, the borough of Croydon (where we’re is based) is currently lacking in its access to the arts. Moreover, Croydon has also suffered from a significant cut in pupil premium in the 2021-22 academic year: £581,040 for primary schools and £210,940 for secondary schools, meaning a significantly tighter budget to spend on extra-curricular activities. Our scheme will first focus on schools who have the highest percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals, in consultation with Croydon Music and Arts, and then expand to other schools in the borough. Aligned with our mission in the year of Croydon being London’s Borough of Culture for 2023/24, we’re aiming to reach all school children in the borough throughout the year.

Ceri Sunu, LMP’s Business Development Manager, commented on the need for scheme, particularly at this moment in time:

“There are still far too many children and young people who do not have access to ongoing music education. While we’ve been committed to our education work across the community in Croydon for the past 30 years, we recognise that it is now more urgent than ever to continue expanding our work to fight against the significant barriers to arts education. Barriers include the rising cost of living meaning less disposable incomes for families, a decrease in funding for the arts and high education institutions, and a continued hangover from covid which has disrupted learning in schools.”

Welcoming Christine Anderson to our viola section

Christine Anderson grew up in Glasgow, where she studied at both the junior and senior departments of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, before completing her Masters at the Royal College of Music with Simon Rowland Jones. During her studies, she developed a love for chamber music, and was lucky to attend the Mendelssohn on Mull Festival for several years. Christine now enjoys a varied career as an orchestral and chamber musician. In 2016, she joined the viola section of the Hallé orchestra, where she holds a 50% job. She is co-principal viola of the United Strings of Europe, with whom she enjoys taking part in innovative projects that connect different cultures and art forms. She also performs with other ground-breaking chamber collectives, such as the SONO Ensemble, Manchester Collective, and Her Ensemble. She is passionate about the importance of the classical music world being a place where everybody can feel included and represented.

Christine plays on a beautiful English viola, made by David Milward in 2011. We’re thrilled that she’s joining our wonderful viola section as a permanent member.

Welcoming Leo Popplewell to LMP

We’re very excited to welcome Leo Popplewell to LMP as Cello No2. Leo studied at Clare College, Cambridge, and later at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in many of the world’s leading concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall and Barbican Hall, and appears regularly at festivals across the UK.

In 2017 he formed the Mithras Piano Trio, taking first prize at the 10th Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition and 67th Royal Over-Seas League Competition. They were selected as BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists for the 2021-23 seasons, and are alumni of the Kirckman Concert Society.

His studies have been generously supported by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Help Musicians UK, and the Craxton Memorial Trust.

Our new partnership with Naxos for Education

We’re proud to announce that we are now an Ambassador of Naxos for Education as part of a joint Audience Development Partnership from our 2022–2023 season onwards. Building on the long-standing relationship we have with Naxos over many acclaimed recordings in the past, this initiative demonstrates our shared goal of bringing the finest classical music to the community, both live in a concert hall and through recordings.

Through the recurring Keep Calm and Listen On campaign, we’re spreading the word about free access to Naxos Music Library (NML) via a number of public libraries in London’s boroughs, for any library member. With an unrivalled breadth of classical music recordings from close to 1,000 major and independent labels including all of LMP’s, NML can be streamed on demand and on-the-go via the dedicated app.

Furthermore, students and schools working with our outreach programmes will be given complimentary access to Naxos MusicBox – a beautifully curated online resource for children aged 4-14 for their own exploration and discovery of musical treasures.

Naxos for Education is a brand-new portal for educators and practitioners, students and music lovers alike to access free resources and information about the wealth of Naxos’ offering. At Naxos, we believe in the power of music and words in enriching and deepening our understanding of humanity, art and culture.

Selected Libraries in Greater London with access to NML:
Barbican Music Library
British Library Sound Archive
Richmond and Wandsworth Libraries
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Libraries
Westminster Libraries
Waltham Forest Libraries

Jonathan Bloxham announced as Conductor in Residence and Artistic Advisor

JONATHAN BLOXHAM ANNOUNCED AS OUR CONDUCTOR IN RESIDENCE AND ARTISTIC ADVISOR

Today, we have announced Jonathan Bloxham as our Conductor in Residence and Artistic Advisor. Jonathan will be working closely with our artistic team to develop our vision for the years ahead, as well as conducting key LMP concerts including those at Fairfield Halls, where our orchestra is Resident.

Jonathan commented:

“It’s an honour to be joining LMP’s musical family at this exciting time in their long and distinguished history. We’ve already had many exhilarating moments on stage and I’m really looking forward to working more closely with all the orchestra to build vivid and diverse programmes together.”

LMP’s Chief Executive, Flynn Le Brocq, commented:

“It’s wonderful that we’re able to formalise our close relationship with Jonathan, especially during the 2023/24 year when Croydon is London’s Borough of Culture. This is a very exciting time for the orchestra and I am confident that Jonathan’s expertise and vision will help us to unlock our full artistic potential”

Jonathan has a long-standing relationship with LMP, making his debut with the orchestra in November 2019 at Kings Place with a programme of Mozart, Schubert and a new commission. Since then, he has continued to have a vivid presence in our orchestra’s life. Projects have included Beethoven and Mendelssohn symphonies, Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No.2 with Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Glazunov with Jess Gillam and Tchaikovsky with our Young-Artist-In-Residence, Leia Zhu.

LMP is directed by Leaders Ruth Rogers and Simon Blendis.

Ruth commented on Jonathan’s ability to ‘understand the soul of a chamber orchestra’ and is eager for Jonathan to help the orchestra ‘tread the tightrope of planning programmes by balancing innovative and imaginative initiatives with the need to keep faithful LMP audiences happy.’ Similarly, Simon is excited by Jonathan’s versatility and looks forward to many ‘electrifying concerts’ in the coming years.

Jonathan’s next appearance with us will be in February 2023 for Building Blochs and Birkenstocks at Fairfield Halls. We will be joined by Sheku Kanneh-Mason performing Bloch’s Schelomo and Jonathan will conduct the orchestra through Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.4. Fitting with our commitment to always including an ‘added extra’ to our own promotion concerts, Sheku and Jonathan will engage in a conversational exploration of the music during the concert, shedding new light on the performance

Full details of our season can be found on here.

Watch Jonathan’s announcement video

For more information and to enquire about press tickets, please contact:
Anna Bennett, Senior Marketing and PR Manager |  anna@lmp.org.

NOTES TO EDITORS

Building Blochs and Birkenstocks

7.30pm | Saturday 4 February 2023

Mendelssohn Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Bloch Schelomo (arr. George Morton)

Bloch ‘Prayer’ (from Jewish Life) arr. Christopher Palmer

Mendelssohn Symphony No.4, ‘Italian’

Sheku Kanneh-Mason cello

Jonathan Bloxham conductor

London Mozart Players

Don’t let our name mislead you – we don’t just play in London, and we certainly don’t just play Mozart! As well as our residencies at Fairfield Halls in Croydon, St John the Evangelist in Upper Norwood, and Opus Theatre in Hastings, we’re well known internationally for working with many of the world’s greatest conductors and soloists. We’re proud to have developed a reputation for making and playing adventurous, ambitious and accessible music, and for being at the forefront of embedding arts and culture into the life of local communities across the UK and beyond.

After celebrating our 70th birthday in 2019, we soon found ourselves navigating orchestra life during the pandemic. During that time, we created an award-winning digital concert series which reached millions of people – reaffirming our commitment to our audiences.

We’ll be opening the launch event for Croydon’s Borough of Culture in 2023, as well as continuing to host our own concerts and events throughout the next year.

Jonathan Bloxham

Jonathan Bloxham was recently appointed Resident Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the London Mozart Players, effective from October 2022.

Since taking up conducting in his mid-20’s, Jonathan Bloxham has swiftly made his mark as a conductor of “accomplished technique, innate musicianship, with a natural rapport with orchestras and a deep knowledge and understanding of the symphonic repertoire” (Paavo Järvi).

He was Assistant at the CBSO 2016-18, returning in subscription in 2021, and has since conducted across Europe, notably with the London Mozart Players, London Philharmonic, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, Residentie Orkest, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Belgian National Orchestra, Aalborg Symphony, Munich Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta and Basque National orchestras.

Highlights of 22/23 include invitations back to Salzburg, Munich, Residentie Orkest and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and the start of his tenure with the London Mozart Players, including concerts at Fairfield Halls, Croydon (London).

Jonathan has a natural affinity with opera and made his Glyndebourne Festival debut in 2021 (Luisa Miller) and returned to Glyndebourne Touring Opera (Don Pasquale), receiving 5-star reviews. In September 2022 he joined the Luzern Symphony to conduct a production of Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle at the Luzerner Theater in association with the Luzern Festival.

He has recorded CDs with the London Symphony Orchestra (2022) and Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie (2021, Strauss and Cesar Franck): “irresistible” – Musicweb International.

Artistic Director of the Northern Chords Festival, he has commissioned young composers such as Vlad Maistorovici, Jack Sheen and Freya Waley Cohen. Jonathan studied conducting with Sian Edwards, Michael Seal, Nicolas Pasquet and Paavo Järvi, after having learnt the cello at the Menuhin School and at Guildhall.  A former cellist, he made his concerto debut at the Berlin Philharmonie in 2012.

http://www.jonathanbloxham.com/

https://www.intermusica.co.uk/artist/Jonathan-Bloxham/

On the passing of Her Majesty the Queen

The London Mozart Players would like to express their sincere condolences for the loss of Her Majesty the Queen. Our thoughts are with all members of the Royal Family and particularly with our wonderful Patron HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.

Julia Desbruslais MBE!