Michael White’s classical news: City Music Foundation; Salon Music; High Barnet Chamber Music Festival

Thursday, 30th June — By Michael White

Jennifer Pike_Photography Credit_Arno

Jennifer Pike. Photo: Arno

LORD Mayors of London wave their hats from golden coaches, flourish for a year, then tend to vanish into history. Not many leave enduring marks – but one who did was Roger Gifford who used his mayoral time and influence in 2012 to help young musicians. In a big way. With his wife Clare Taylor, he set up the City Music Foundation which every year enrols a group of super-talented performers at the start of their careers and gives them a support package of advice, performing opportunities and general nurture (of an all-round kind that young musicians, who can be astonishingly other-worldly, often need).

Sadly, Roger died last year with cancer. But the CMF lives on, run by Clare from her home in Camden Town. And next Tuesday, July 5, it celebrates its first decade of existence with an anniversary gala at Wigmore Hall. The roster of performers is impressive: a conveyor belt of stars who’ve come to be associated with CMF like pianist Pavel Kolesnikov, singer Christopher Purves and violinist Jennifer Pike. The programme is agreeably crazy, starting with a four-hand keyboard version of Stravinsky’s epic Rite of Spring. And it’s clearly going to be a massive entertainment, with a fund-raising auction at which you can bid for dinner with the director of Wigmore Hall (an entertainment in itself) or, no less grand, a private dinner, bed & breakfast at the Mansion House. I wouldn’t care to speculate on which attracts the most bids.

Either way, CMF is a fine institution that’s done valuable work, especially during the tough times of Covid, and will go on doing it in memory of Roger Gifford’s initiative. Full details: citymusicfoundation.org

Someone else with initiative is Michelle Berridale Johnson, who moved to Highgate not so long ago with the express intention of reviving the almost defunct idea of musical salons – organising performances in intimate spaces that would include her own home.

It’s taken a while to realise, not least because her new home needed renovation; so her concerts have been happening elsewhere. But now, at last, her project Salon Music is ready to launch in the domestic venue it was planned for. And on Thursday July 7 the Korros Ensemble (flute, harp, clarinet) will play music by one of those forgotten female 20th century composers ripe for rediscovery, Elizabeth Poston, together with contemporary works by composer-of-the-moment Cheryl Frances Hoad and the celebrated Howard Blake (famous for his soundtrack to The Snowman but also the author of serious chamber scores). Details: salonmusic.co.uk / www.tickettailor.com/events/salonmusic/698761/#

• Staying with the theme of pioneers, yet another is the young conductor Joshua Balance who, while still a student finishing an Oxford doctorate, set up his own High Barnet Chamber Music Festival – which runs again July 2-17. This year’s season opens with Britten’s dazzling Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings, and continues with a smartly conceived programme that manages to explore interesting new works without becoming inaccessible.

All the concerts are close to High Barnet tube, most of them in the new concert hall attached to Queen Elizabeth School that only opened a few months ago. With free or discounted tickets for young people, it’s worth investigating. hbcmf.co.uk

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