Contemporary music really picking up at Wigmore Hall


About 18 months ago, in a review of the JACK Quartet’s Wigmore Hall Live CD, I suggested that the WH was ‘more a venue for classical recitalists than avant-garde explorers with uncompromisingly capitalised names’. I copped a little dissent on that point from the hall itself, who wanted to point out that contemporary music was a regular feature at Wigmore concerts. Strictly speaking, yes, they were right, but most of what they could point at was still very much from the conservative end of the new music spectrum.

Well, I have to say this year’s contemporary music series really has stepped things up a gear. More evidence that concert venues should be taking more risks with new music? The series continues this Saturday with a Julian Anderson day this Saturday (including a tasty-looking concert of Anderson, Abrahamsen and Sciarrino), quickly followed on Wednesday by EXAUDI (another uncompromisingly capitalised name …) presenting Gesualdo-related works from Finnissy, Schöllhorn, Fox and Gervasoni, as well as the man himself.

And there’s more in the new year. On 23 January the JACKs return to play Crawford Seeger, Trapani, Ferneyhough, Anderson and – blimey – Radulescu. But the pick for me, and the signal that something really new might be underway at Wigmore, is the venue debut of Apartment House on 4 January, in a concert that looks like this:

Laurence Crane: Sparling 2000
Christopher Fox: Memento
Peter Garland: Where beautiful feathers abound
Amnon Wolman: Dead End
Mathias Spahlinger: 128 erfüllte augenblicke
Rytis Mažulis: Canon mensurabilis
Christopher Fox: Blank
George Mačiūnas: In Memoriam to Adriano Olivetti

Yeah, me too. Good times.


5 thoughts on “Contemporary music really picking up at Wigmore Hall

  1. Is it really picking up when they’ve recently had to resort to pushing discounted ticket sales via Sound and Music’s e-shots?

    Great they have a series, sad they’ve not worked at developing a loyal, curious and growing audience. That takes time, commitment and knowledge.

    1. I’ve not been to anything in this year’s season yet, so I can’t comment on what the audiences are like (although it sounds like not good from what you say). I’m only commenting here on the programming choices, which I think are heading in the right direction. Let’s hope small audiences this season (if that’s what they are) don’t mean an end to the adventure.

  2. The discount was always part of the strategy. And we are developing a really close relationship with sound and music. Natural partners for us with an extensive database. If anything the series will expand even more in the years ahead. Pity people like Mandee Shunt can’t work out a proper strategy from some sort of sour grapes. Hope she doesn’t bother coming along as she is exactly the sort of negative moaner that destroys our efforts and our industry.

  3. Quite – how could they have developed the loyal audience before they’ve even started the series? As you say, it takes time, right? Sour grapes indeed, and silly, too.

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