There’s an old recipe, probably apocryphal, that begins with the words “First catch your hare”. If you’re looking to develop an orchestral education department, those words might be “First renovate your derelict 18th century church.”
It has been 10 years since the LSO reopened the church of St Luke’s (patron saint, incidentally, of doctors, surgeons, artists, students and butchers) as the base for LSO Discovery. And by way of birthday present, the orchestra is throwing a 12-day festival to showcase the range of activity that would not have been possible without it.
Although the festival got under way conventionally enough at lunchtime courtesy of the Vienna Piano Trio, that’s about as mainstream as it gets. But then, LSO St Luke’s is a place of contrasts: in a churchyard that manages to be peaceful despite its place on London’s busy Old Street; its elegant, plain walls housing a completely new interior and all manner of colourful goings-on.
Indeed, it’s almost no surprise to discover that its 10th birthday festival barely features the actual LSO itself. A guest orchestra, sure; a specially-assembled amateur orchestra, yes of course; chamber ensembles, by all means; a gamelan, digital music group, community choir, cellist-singer-compser, oud dude and more, why, be my guest.
That’s not to say the LSO players are not involved in all of this. They are, for instance, a crucial part of LSO On Track, the Olympics-inspired initiative who will be performing this evening. More about that in just a sec when I talk to its conductor Matthew Gibson…