Chamber Music

Okay – this is the sort of thing that normally goes in my Parish News section, but I really like this idea, I think it’s indicative of something bigger that’s happening in Greenwich and – hey – it’s my blog, so my whim…

Nick and Louisa  are professional musicians who live in East Greenwich. Actually there are a lot of musicians, of all stripes, who live round here and it dates back much further than Trinity coming to the ORNC, though few of them actually get to perform here.

They mainly end up playing elsewhere because there’s bugger-all in the way of venues – Blackheath Conservatoire and its ilk (mainly attracting the bigger names or students), the Pelton and a couple of other brave ventures, including the magnificent Peter de Wits, who despite having the kind of proportions that would easily ‘let them off’ having any kind of entertainment have supported live music for years, but there’s nothing like there used to be.

Much of that is down to one company – Greenwich Inc.(again…) – they arrived on the scene in the early 2000s and any of the pubs/restaurants that used to have music that they took over, stopped pretty much overnight, but it can’t all be blamed on them – generally, there are fewer places to listen to music than there used to be. Admittedly it’s easier to hear classical music than other types – I love the recitals at St Alfege and Trinity (not that I get to hear many of them, having to work during the week, tsk) but there’s always room for more.

But back to Nick and Louisa. They live at the Plaza (the old cinema at the Traf Road/Blackwall Lane/Woolwich Road/Vanbrugh Hill junction) – and have done for seven years. They’ve just taken a biiiiig punt, taken over the commercial lease of the dodgy old cosmetic surgery studio in the Vanbrugh Hill side of the Plaza and fitted it out as a teeny-tiny chamber-music studio.

Perhaps unsurprisingly it’s mainly for teaching (the reality for most pro musicians) but the space holds up to twenty people (not sure if that’s twenty punters or whether that includes the musos too) and they’re planning to run public concerts there too.

They’re starting out small (though it’s hard to see how they’ll expand too much unless they can take over the old Chinese Restaurant upstairs) with a series of recitals, one a month.

The first one is to be Sunday week, the 30th September, at 6pm ( a very civilised time – that’s what you get with classical stuff…), an hour’s worth of music:

  • Beethoven Sonata for Piano and Violin in C minor, Op.30, No.2
  • Strauss Violin Sonata in E-flat, Op.18

with drinks and nibbles, charging a tenner for a ticket to cover costs.

I’m really hoping that this is the start of a renaissance for East Greenwich in general. Ever since we lost the hospital, the place has been dying. We’ve lost pubs, shops, trees – even two bookies – and when you can’t even get the betting shops to stay you know you’re in trouble.

But the diggers do seem to be doing something at the ‘Heart.’ Just what they’re doing is a mystery, they  seem to be moving a lot of earth around at the moment), but Things Are Happening  and judging from the way the hoardings take up more of the pavement every day, they’re going to have to come up with something concrete soon or perdestrians will have to trudge in the road.

A new concert venue does seem to be going from 0-60 in thirty seconds – I certainly wasn’t expecting a recital hall in East Greenwich before we got, say, a decent baker’s or butchers, but hey – I’m not knocking it and it’s people doing something positive somewhere there was only closed shop fronts. More power to their bow-elbows – and hopefully others will see what’s going on and be inspired to create other exciting things in other empty shops.

If you fancy a little bit of culture on Sunday 30th – or want to joing a mailing list for future recitals, email Nick at to reserve a seat, or call on 020 81237659.

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12 Comments to “Chamber Music”

  1. Dazza says:

    Nice to hear that we are getting some of the ‘Bohemian’ back into Greenwich.
    Brilliant idea for an otherwise closed shop.
    Good luck and I for one will be popping along soon.

  2. Nick says:

    Hi TGP, thanks so much for the support. Just to let you know tickets are selling quickly for this and there are only 9 left now. If we have more interest than we can accommodate, we can easily put on an additional performance on another evening.

  3. Franklin says:

    Hi Nick and Louisa

    Would you consider holding ‘kids-friendly’ recitals?

    We’d love to take our two little ones to a concert locally, but would never dream of disturbing a ‘grown-up’ performance.

    I’m sure there’d be huge demand locally – see the success of the Picturehouse’s ‘Big Scream’ (although I’d open it to under-5s, not just under-1s).

    You’d have less attention to the artistry, of course, but I’m sure it would be profitable. More importantly, you’d be laying the foundations for relationships with future students, as well as more generally turning children on to classical music.

    Just a thought…

  4. Franklin – I can help you there – you need to check out Bach with my Baby at St Alfege Church

  5. Capability Bowes says:

    Nick and Louisa

    How about “Introduce your children to opera” afternoons?

    A friend of mine runs her own opera company and regularly does these during the holidays.

    A typical programme would be:
    Tell the story (abridged!) of The Magic Flute
    Make animal bird/masks
    Sing the Papageno/Papagena duet from the last act

    Tell the story of The Merry Widow
    Sing the “Merry Widow Waltz”
    Teach the children how to dance a waltz

    Tell the story (abridged!) of La Traviata
    Sing the Brindisi(explaining what a “drinking song” is)
    Pour juice for everyone and get them to join in

    and so on……

  6. Miaomiao says:

    Nick and Louisa,
    What a wonderful initiative! I’m sure your concerts will be a great success.

    Greenwich Phantom:
    Thanks for mentioning my concert series, Bach to Baby. We have loads of fun for children from newborns to toddlers to school age, at a time when everyone’s awake: 10:30am.

    Miaomiao, founder of Bach to Baby

  7. “when everyone’s awake”

    Speak for yourself…;-)

  8. Lara says:

    Good luck Nick and Louisa! x

  9. Sailor Saucy says:

    This is a brilliant idea. I’ve recently moved back to East Greenwich after three years in the wilderness north of the river, and I’m so glad to hear about a positive development for the place.

  10. Capability Bowes says:

    Phantoms are not generally awake at 1030hrs. Phantoms wait until the crepuscular darkness and then materialise slowly and ethereally from the place where their mortal body expired. They then hang around for a bit going woogy woogy woogy before fading like the morning mist just before cock-crow, having stayed up all night writing blogs.

  11. Capability Bowes says:

    Oh, I just remembered.

    Ripley Arts Centre is a decent (relatively local) concert venue. Its along the main road that eventually leads to Bromley, but dont hold that against it. The acoustics are good, the grand piano is in tune and there is a good sized room leading into it for interval drinkies and mibbles and hobnobbing. Alas, no hobnobs though.

  12. Nick says:

    Thanks for the support everyone, the first of these events is now sold out but do get touch and you’ll be the first to know about future events