Guest review by David Lake
If you haven’t come across the ‘noisenights,’ you really should. Two enterprising musicians, Jack Crozier and Jack Bazalgette started these classical/not-classical nights around London during the pandemic and this is the first I’ve had the chance to attend.
The idea is simple enough: get top-notch classical musicians playing in the clubs, pubs and venues frequented by a different audience to the traditional ‘classical’ crowd by offering an evening that mixes several types of music, doesn’t expect anyone to be well-versed in the traditional of Western Art Music but without patronising them.
And it works. The 26th November gig was at Signature Brew, Haggerston, a brick-lined railway arch with a good bar, virtually no seats and dim lighting. The performers were Alexandra Whitingham on guitar and Esther Abrami on violin. We were treated to exquisite guitar playing with the audience in total silence – Villa-Lobos and Fernando Sor both featured – then joined for a highly spirited rendition of Piazzolla’s Libertango and café 1930 by Abrami. The audience loved it; 50 minutes of great music-making of the standard you would see in any top-notch concert house.
But it was what happened after this that really drew the line between a traditional concert and this gig. The stage was cleared and a whole heap of percussion unloaded from the store above the toilets. A quick sound check later and we had nearly 2 hours of Afrobeat from Afla Sackey and his band. Did we dance…
Crozier and Bazalgette are not seeking to replace the existing concert-going experience – they state that they are keen Prommers and regular attendees at the Barbican – but to introduce the concept of classical music to a new audience. The clever balance of venue, location, cross-genre programming and ticket price (the gigs are crowd-funded so you feel that you really do have a share in their success) leads to a highly engaged audience absolutely invested in both the classical and non-classical portions of the evening.
In addition to their own programming, the two Jacks have taken to publicising other-such events on their website; regular venues like the Shoreditch Treehouse to Brunel’s tunnels all feature as do the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s outings to various London pubs, Fidelio Café’s slightly more upmarket offerings, and the Spotlight Chamber concerts at St. John’s Waterloo.
At a time when even in my mid-50s I often feel that I am the youngest-in-the-room at Wigmore or baulk at the price of a drink at the bar (or just the ticket price) at Kings Place or the Barbican, I have to think that this is our future audience – less worried about conventions and coming with open minds that with simply having a great time listening to superb music. Power to you, both Jacks!
Find out more about noisenights here
David Lake is a research scientist, engineer, pianist, concert-goer and choral singer, and sees the barriers between art and science as purely artificial and unhelpful. He is currently studying for his Licentiate Diploma (piano) and recently achieved a first in his BA from the OU, whilst carrying on with the science-stuff in 6G mobile networks for the “day-job.”