A revitalized LMP comes back from the brink to celebrate its 70th birthday season
Former Artistic Director Jane Glover reunited with LMP for ‘Mozart’s Women’ concert at St John Smith Square
Celebratory concerts with soloists Michael Collins and Howard Shelley
Gala Concert for the reopening of Croydon’s Fairfield Halls
LMP is the only player-directed and player-run orchestra in the UK
‘Here is an orchestra that, when times got tough, refused to lie down and instead took matters into their own hands. They are now the longest established chamber orchestra in the UK, and in my opinion rank with the best in the world.’ – John Suchet
The London Mozart Players, the UK’s longest established chamber orchestra, celebrates its 70th birthday on 11th February 2019, and will mark the anniversary with a series of high-profile concerts in venues across the capital and beyond during the 2018/19 season. This outstanding ensemble has plenty to celebrate: in 2014 the LMP was on the brink of collapse when vital funding was withdrawn, yet over the last four years the orchestra has completely reinvented itself and now, as the only player-directed and player-run orchestra in the UK, it is proving itself to be one of the country’s most versatile and dynamic group of musicians.
The LMP’s birthday concerts will see the orchestra reunite with musical colleagues from its illustrious past while connecting with the classical stars of today. Since its earliest days the LMP has worked with artists of the highest calibre: Igor Stravinsky and Yehudi Menuhin conducted the orchestra, and guest artistes include Daniel Barenboim, James Galway and Felicity Lott. Continuing this tradition, the 70th birthday season will include concerts with Michael Collins, Jane Glover and Howard Shelley amongst others, with the concert on Sunday 27 January featuring virtuoso clarinettist Michael Collins (on his, and Mozart’s, birthdays) at St John’s Smith Square. Collins will perform Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto K.622 on the basset horn, the original instrument for which this beloved concerto was written.
The LMP has always been a leader in musical outreach, education and diversity, with the pioneering appointments of the first female Executive Director in 1983 (Louise Honeyman) and the first female Artistic Director of any orchestra in 1984 (Jane Glover). The orchestra is delighted that Glover (who also turns 70 in 2019) will be taking the baton at a special celebratory concert entitled ‘Mozart’s Women’ at St John’s Smith Square on 11 April 2019. The varied programme will reflect the influence that various women had on the life of the great composer. Featuring soprano Jennifer France and BBC Young Musician of the Year Lauren Zhang, this concert will delight all Mozart cognoscenti.
Another long-time LMP collaborator, Conductor Laureate Howard Shelley, will conduct the orchestra in two afternoon concerts at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall – in March and June 2019. Packed full of classical music treasures including works by Mozart, Beethoven and Hummel, this will showcase the LMP’s talent and versatility, echoing founder Harry Blech’s aim to showcase authentic performances of the core classical works.
Howard Shelley will also be centre-stage for the LMP’s innovative series of lunchtime concerts at St John’s Smith Square: ‘Piano Explored’. The series will launch the orchestra’s birthday season in October 2018 – with a twist on the usual format: in a whistle-stop hour, Howard will lead the orchestra in his engaging repertoire deconstructions with, for the birthday year, LMP musicians performing double and triple concerti alongside him at the piano to highlight the talent within the LMP. And for the LMP’s birthday concert on 13th February 2019, Howard will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No .17 in G, K.453, which was played at the LMP’s very first concert in 1949.
2019 also marks LMP’s thirtieth year as resident orchestra for the London Borough of Croydon at Fairfield Halls, which is currently undergoing a £30 million refurbishment. 2019 will see the orchestra centre stage for a glamorous reopening Gala Concert in the presence of its Patron, HRH Prince Edward, restoring the orchestra’s place at the heart of the borough’s music making (concert date tbc).
The LMP’s 70th anniversary season sees no reduction in their busy education and community commitments including concerts at their home, St John the Evangelist church in Upper Norwood. These sponsored concerts ensure that neither price nor distance prevent anyone in the local community from attending. In addition, the LMP’s award-winning #LMPontheMove series, which takes classical music into unusual venues across Croydon including shopping malls, carparks and bars, will launch a third series in summer 2019.
The LMP connects with its global audience through its extensive discography and 2019 sees new releases across the musical spectrum, including Howard Shelley (Piano) performing Cramer’s Piano Concertos No.4, 5 & 6 (Hyperion), works by Clive Osgood (Convivium) and Parry’s Judith (label tbc).
The orchestra has always been committed to music education: LMP players regularly take music into schools in the UK and abroad (most recently in Dubai and Hong Kong), inspiring youngsters through workshops and concerts with their side-by-side initiative. The 2018/19 season already includes education projects with long-standing partners Royal Holloway College, Portsmouth Grammar School and Ealing Youth Orchestra as well as visits to primary schools in their home community of Croydon.
The orchestra has launched an appeal to raise £100,000 to support its birthday concert series, fund LMP’s work in local education and community outreach, and to lay a firm foundation for the next 70 years. At 4th October 2018, funds raised stood at £40,000.
The 70th birthday season will be exceptionally busy for the LMP, underlining its successful reinvention and cementing the orchestra’s position at the forefront of the UK’s classical music scene. The LMP has transformed itself into a resourceful and energetic twenty-first century orchestra, still continuing founder Harry Blech’s vision of authentic performances of classical gems, yet demonstrating an agile versatility within a changing musical landscape.