At the beginning of the month, I was excited to be invited to the first Classical Mixtape Live at St George’s. If you’re not familiar with the venue, I urge you to go and discover this stunning jewel just seconds off Park Street in Bristol.
A former church which was almost destroyed during the second world war, St George’s recently underwent a massive £6.3m refurbishment with the extension of its cafe and restaurant, transforming the place into a welcoming spot for a morning coffee, a tasty lunch or some pre-show treats.
It also features Apollo, a gorgeous glass sculpture by Luke Jerram, the Bristol artist famous for building a waterslide down Park Street.
Well known around the world for its fabulous acoustics, St George’s is family favourite of ours for Christmas choir concerts. I’m far from a classical expert but that has never stopped me from dragging a sometimes reluctant, but always pleasantly surprised, Dan to several concerts.
Nevertheless, I wasn’t aware of how diverse the venue’s programme has become. In addition to classical performances for all the family, St George’s boasts a mix of film projections, spoken word events, jazz and philosophical debates.
The evening’s programme didn’t disappoint. A mix of talented young musicians, including Adam Heron (piano), Daniel Pioro (violin), Laura van der Hejden (cello) Amy Dickson (saxophone) and a powerful choir, the Exultate Singers directed by David Ogden, delivered some wonderful pieces.
But there was one major difference from any of the previous concerts I’ve been to. In addition to the usual seats in the upper floor, the audience could make themselves at home with blankets, folding chairs and cushions to enjoy the concert sat or lying on the floor. After the excitement of a snow day, my 12 year-old and her school friend just couldn’t resist!
Aimed at making classical music more accessible and less daunting, the event was a wonderful celebration of musical beauty. Everywhere I looked, people were absorbed by the fabulous renditions of works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Ravel, Satie, Fauré and Arvo Pärt.
The musicians and choir appeared in different places to the delight of kids and adults alike, and we were allowed to film and take pictures.
I managed to film a few performances and made the most of being sat right next to the piano, but most of the time I let the music take over, closed my eyes, and even shed a few tears (courtesy of Fauré and Arvo Pärt).
My first Classical Mixtape Live was a really lovely experience. In this former church, I really felt as if we’d all gathered to worship the beauty of the musical world.
The event is back in on 28 June, so grab your tickets and I’ll see you there for a glass of wine and another musical journey!
Thankyou to Dagmar at St George’s and Heather from Bristol Bloggers for the invitation and free tickets. All views are our own.