Wednesday, 1 October 2008
A kindly neighbour hands me a ticket for the opening concert at Kings Place, London's new music venue. Don't be put off by its Canary Wharfy, corporate, feel - it's a bit like walking into a bank - because things quickly improve once you've made it to the building's basement. Here two handsome concert halls await that seat 450 and 220 people respectively. Before we go in a lone french horn player, Steven Stirling, greets us with a stirring solo work by Martin Butler that, whether intentionally or not, makes wonderful use of Kings Place's impressive atrium. Then, a little past 9.30 in the morning, the oboist, Melinda Maxwell performs Disparate by Simon Holt. Maybe we could have had something a little more rousing and, well, less difficult (c'mon, atonalism first thing in the morning?!) to launch this welcome addition to London's musical life. But as a statement of intent it fits the bill exactly: Kings Place is the rightful home of contemporary music. The Holt was followed by shortish works by Kondo and Castiglioni, both of whom I'd never heard of, and rounded off with a solid performance of Bartok's Contrasts. And what about the acoustics? Well I didn't really notice, which is a good thing I guess. And at £2.50 these introductory concerts are an absolute bargain. Lucky old London. Go.