London loses a cornerstone concert hall

London loses a cornerstone concert hall


norman lebrecht

June 06, 2019

The Fairfield Halls in Croydon reopen after refurbishment in September.

Judging by the season’s programming, there is hardly any orchestral music in what was once a cornerstone concert hall.

A ‘gala’ by the London Mozart Players and a few Christmassy shows from the Royal Philharmonic are just about it.

See here.



  • Una says:

    Well, it’s Croydon. I did oratorio in there and Croydon Parish Church, but times and the local population have changed out of all recognition. Only minutes on a train from London Bridge or Victoria doesn’t entice Londoners to a place like Croydon when there is so much going on in central.London. And to be viable, they will need to attract local people or in the surrounding areas of Surrey with events that will attract them and at a price they can afford. It’s a complex issue as to what to programme in Croydon.

  • Croydoner says:

    “A ‘gala’ by the London Mozart Players and two Christmas shows from the Royal Philharmonic are just about it.”

    Quite inaccurate. Just opening the very same link you provided I can find:
    -London Mozart Players – Fairfield Halls Gala Opening Concert
    -MILOŠ: The Voice of the Guitar
    -Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – The Italian Job
    -London Mozart Players – A Concert Extraordinaire!
    -Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – John Rutter’s Christmas Celebration
    -Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Great Romantics

    those are 6 concerts, the double of what the article says. And only one is a Christmas gala.

  • Eric says:

    Well, there are another three orchestral concerts, but it’s not many, I agree. However, the line-up here is completely typical of most smaller municipal concert halls around the country. Audiences with…, singalong shows, tribute bands, film music spectaculars. It’s all sadly fairly predictable nowadays.

  • Rustier spoon says:

    Mm…I wonder if backstage has been “refurbished” also, it certainly needs it!

  • Nicht Schleppend says:

    We should all celebrate the fact that The Fairfield Halls has been refurbished and is reopening. The concert hall is a wonderful venue and has a superb acoustic as numerous musicians and punters will testify. We must also rejoice that another major venue in the Greater London area is available for the performance of music and the arts. It is now up to arts organisations to present events there and make it a success. London is stuck in a bubble as we can see with the ridiculously limited plans for the helter-skelter-like Centre for Music entirely inadequate for its proposed role and crushed onto a roundabout in the middle of a concrete jungle.
    Lucky Croydon!

  • Bill says:

    The hall hasn’t been lost, there are some orchestral concerts on the schedule. If the hall has been closed, small wonder that other arrangements might have been made, especially if it was not the “home base” for the missing groups.

  • SVM says:

    Given the propensity of major building/infrastructure projects in the UK to complete behind schedule, I cannot help wondering whether the dearth of serious classical music is attributable to reticence to take the risk of committing to a performance in a hall at a juncture when the refurbishment is incomplete. In the event of the hall reopening late, promoters would have to either cancel, postpone, or relocate concerts, all of which are likely to reduce ticket revenue and exposure. Such disruption can be enough to drive a small ensemble promoting its own events (without the help of a big agency) out of business. Even without such disruption, putting on classical concerts is, on the whole, not a very lucrative enterprise.

    Maybe, once the hall has actually reopened, the calendar will be populated with a higher density of classical concerts. I hope so, because I enjoyed the one concert I have heard there, an excellent lunchtime concert by the ensemble Sounds Positive, directed by David Sutton-Anderson (although I was less impressed with the hall’s ushers: I was actually slightly late for the concert, despite which the stewards had no qualms about trying to let me into the hall immediately, in the middle of a piece; not wanting to disrupt the concert, I insisted on waiting until a suitable break before entering the hall).

  • Graham Elliott says:

    Bit surprised by this. Kensington Symphony Orchestra is doing Mahler 3 there next May. Are Fairfield concerned that programming will dent their street cred?

  • Bill says:

    That Is terrible!
    It’s a good hall with good acoustics! Many recordings there with the BBC Symphony orchestra and Chorus

  • Insider says:

    No one seems to have mentioned that FF have linked up with Phoenix, the British piano manufacturer based in Kent. There are big plans afoot for a huge classical program. FF have acquired EIGHT world class instruments for concerts and their new piano academy. It’s early days regarding announcements for the classical program. I can assure you it will give the Southbank a run for its money…

  • Norman should rest assured that there is more happening at Fairfield Halls. On 16th November 2019 Lewisham Choral Society will be performing Walton’s magnificent Belshazzar’s Feast in a concert also featuring Elgar’s Enigma Variations. We look forward to singing in the newly refurbished halls.