Classical music leaves the concert hall for the pub and the car park

Covid has given a bump to smaller, unusual venues that offer intimate, less intimidating experiences

By Hannah Napilova

“Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email [email protected] to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found here.

It started with the first relaxation of Covid restrictions in the summer of 2020. While major concert halls remained closed, a small, Clerkenwell-based venue called the Fidelio Café started hosting socially distanced performances from artists such as cellist Steven Isserlis, violinist Alina Ibragimova and other stars of the classical music world, each with a live, albeit tiny, audience. The concerts sold out, and before long other small venues started offering culture-starved audiences a chance to hear musicians who, under ordinary circumstances, would have been found performing in the UK’s most prestigious concert halls. Now, with the reopening of those halls, one might have expected a reversion to pre-Covid normality: established classical musicians in established performance venues, with smaller spaces chiefly populated, as they were before the pandemic, by experimental artists and young musicians on the make. That hasn’t quite happened. Among those appearing at the Fidelio Café next month is the pianist Angela Hewitt. Classical Vauxhall, a recent concert series held at St Mark’s Church in Lambeth, profiled artists including soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn.”