Classical Music: Minus the Rules
Gosh. I have 300 words to write about The Night Shift and I feel a bit stuck. Having a blank sheet of ‘paper’ in front of you is always a challenge. Well, I’ll keep it brief. We started The Night Shift almost exactly 5 years ago – we wanted to create a late-night, informal event that would hopefully appeal to different people than our ‘standard’ concerts do. Over time the format has been refined, but in general we have an hour of non-classical music in the bar, then an hour-long concert with the Orchestra, which includes a presenter who interviews musicians and soloists and also sometimes takes questions from the crowd. Also (somewhat radically for classical music) you can bring your drinks in, and you’re also free to come and go as you wish. After the show we finish the evening with a DJ for an hour or so.
In essence what we wanted to do was just ‘repackage’ our music. We love the music that we play and really believe in it, so we want as many people as possible to enjoy it too. But we recognised that some of the rituals and habits of conventional concerts didn’t appeal to some people, were mystifying or even off-putting. So we didn’t change our music or its quality, we just changed its setting a bit. Interestingly, the informality of the event has had an affect on more than just the audience – members of the Orchestra have remarked on the effect it’s had on their playing, some talking of feeling freer, of there being more connection with the audience.
About a year or so ago we started to experiment with venues too. Until then we’d always held the events in conventional concert halls. But we thought that new venues might being something to the event, help make it more informal and perhaps tempt a few people to try us who might not come usually. Last January we played at the Roundhouse – an amazing experience with over a thousand people coming to hear Beethoven’s seventh symphony. In the summer we went somewhere very different, the beautiful and intimate Wilton’s Music Hall. Now we come to Village Underground and Spitalfields Music’s Summer Festival – a very different venue again but one which should lend the event a whole new feel. It’ll be standing, and everyone will be pretty close to the stage and orchestra which should make the music of Handel even more powerful. We can’t wait!
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
The Night Shift
Friday 24 June 9.00pm
Tickets £8 in advance; £10 on the door;
Pre-show from 8pm curated by young programmers Circulate