Advertisement
Music

Why classical club night concerts are now the hottest ticket

Getting fully immersed in the orchestra means it’s hard to beat this informal, innovative approach that’s becoming a growing trend

The queue snaked around the barriers, spilling on to the pavements leading up to the Printworks. The cavernous South London building, once the printing plant that produced newspapers including the Daily Mail and Evening Standard, was converted into an events space in 2017.

Tonight’s punters weren’t waiting for Fabio & Grooverider or Tall Paul – some of the artists who recently appeared at Printworks as part of Clockwork Orange – they were preparing to hear music more commonly associated with a concert hall than a nightclub. 

Aurora Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s Seventh – famously used in The King’s Speech – vibrated through the press halls in one of the most absorbing renditions heard in recent years.

The success lay in the ensemble’s approach to the vast scale of the building. Rather than stand on a stage huddled together in the traditional format, Aurora musicians were elevated on small platforms that were positioned among the crowd.

The audience was free to roam throughout the performance, experiencing Beethoven’s epic masterpiece from beside the brass or standing next to the strings.

Of course, the balance wasn’t perfect and the acoustics didn’t always flatter – but we felt as though we were inside the orchestra; nurtured by every note. To further remove any barriers to engagement, Aurora performed the entire piece from memory – something they have pioneered since 2014 when they became the first ensemble to play complete symphonies off by heart.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The result has reignited interest in the classical club night concert. Invitations to the BBC Proms launch landed in inboxes last week – in past years the press briefing location is often linked to key proms of the year. This year’s venue? Printworks…

Subscribe to The Big Issue

From just £3 per week

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work. With each subscription we invest every penny back into supporting the network of sellers across the UK. A subscription also means you'll never miss the weekly editions of an award-winning publication, with each issue featuring the leading voices on life, culture, politics and social activism.

Classical club nights first emerged in the early 2000s, inspired by the likes of Yellow Lounge in Berlin, created by Deutsche Grammophon to attract new listeners to the genre.

The informal layout – initiated at a time when most concert halls didn’t allow drinks in the theatre and still had unwritten dress codes – promoted new artists and styles.

In the UK, Gabriel Prokofiev (grandson of Sergei) runs Nonclassical, a record label and club night “at which contemporary classical and experimental music is presented as if it were rock or electronic music: bands play through the pub’s PA, everyone has a pint in their hand and there are DJs playing throughout the night.”

Support The Big Issue

Give your local vendor a hand up and buy the magazine

Each of our vendors buy their copies of the mag for £1.50 each, selling them for £3 and keeping the difference. Visit our interactive map to find your nearest vendor.

Clearly hoping to tap into the classical nightclub revival, London Handel Festival (until April 18) has expanded its venue line-up, which includes the handsome recital room at St George’s in Hanover Square, venturing to the subterranean Village Underground in Shoreditch.

Unlike Aurora and other orchestras that play in the round in such spaces, 12 Ensemble assembled themselves on stage with music stands and presented the concert as though it was any other traditional hall.

The programme, so promising on the page, felt underpowered. Missy Mazzoli’s A Thousand Tongues – a compact and intense piece featuring pre-recorded electronics and amplified strings, with a soundscape tailor-made for the Village Underground archways, appeared to be performed without electronics. So close – and yet so far.

Royal Opera House is staging a Concert for Ukraine on April 15

When Russia invaded Ukraine, arts organisations were among those who were quick to denounce Putin’s violence – with the notable exception of Valery Gergiev, internationally renowned conductor and public ally to the warmongering president. As it became clear that Gergiev would not budge on his position, the great and the good of the music world severed their ties with the Russian maestro. The Edinburgh International Festival, based in a city that is twinned with Kyiv, asked for and accepted the resignation of Gergiev as its honorary president. The Royal Opera House, which has been lit in the yellow and blue colours of the Ukrainian flag since last month, is hosting a fundraising concert on April 15 to raise money for the humanitarian appeal. Tickets are now sold out but check back for returns.

Claire Jackson is a writer and editor. claire-jackson.co.uk
@claireiswriting

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine out this week. Support your local vendor by buying today! If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

Advertisement

Support your local vendor

Want to buy a copy of the magazine? We have over 1,200 Big Issue vendors in the UK. Each vendor buys a copy of the mag for £1.50 and sells it for £3, keeping the difference. Visit our interactive map to find your nearest vendor and support them today!

Recommended for you

Read All
Music biz legend Barbara Charone lifts the lid on an incredible career
Music

Music biz legend Barbara Charone lifts the lid on an incredible career

Six things we learned from Phoebe Bridgers live at Glasgow Barrowland
Music

Six things we learned from Phoebe Bridgers live at Glasgow Barrowland

Calum Scott: 'Pouring my heart out is the only way I can write'
Music

Calum Scott: 'Pouring my heart out is the only way I can write'

The enduring friendship between George Michael and The Big Issue
music

The enduring friendship between George Michael and The Big Issue

Most Popular

Read All
Thousands march in London to protest low pay and rising cost of living
1.

Thousands march in London to protest low pay and rising cost of living

Prince William: 'Why I wanted to work with The Big Issue'
2.

Prince William: 'Why I wanted to work with The Big Issue'

Margaret Beckett: 'People think Boris Johnson would be a good laugh in the pub. He'd be late and not get a round in'
3.

Margaret Beckett: 'People think Boris Johnson would be a good laugh in the pub. He'd be late and not get a round in'

What really happened when Prince William sold The Big Issue
4.

What really happened when Prince William sold The Big Issue

Keep up to date with The Big Issue. The leading voice on life, politics, culture and social activism direct to your inbox.