St-Martin-in-the-Fields outlines a grim musical futuremain
The church has banned independent ensembles. It wants to make all of the music itself. Your views?
Over the past few months at St Martin-in-the-Fields we have been reviewing our concert structure with the aim of shaping a new programme of carefully curated, sector-leading and inspiring performances. We intend to combine the popular programming for which St Martin’s is known and loved with new strands of ambitious music-making; and we will work alongside select partners to deliver this vision. In these challenging times, when St Martin’s is under immense financial strain, we also want these changes to create a music structure that best supports both musicians and our wider work.
Our aim is to create an open venue that is welcoming to a broad range of musicians and artists, both up-and-coming and established, giving many more people the opportunity to perform at our iconic church. In particular, we want to enable St Martin’s to support a large number of professional musicians directly, rather than through third-party promoters, whilst at the same time continuing and growing our support for voluntary music-making and our flourishing music education programmes.
We intend to open up more of our site to music: using not only the church space, but also our outdoor courtyard and indoor crypt. We plan also to work with our partners across the HeartEdge network to facilitate more music-making opportunities in churches across the country.
When St Martin’s is able fully to reopen, we hope in the first half of 2021, we plan to deliver our programme in three ways:
1) An enhanced in-house concert offering. For the last seven years St Martin-in-the-Fields has been increasing the number of concerts performed by its own musicians, choral and instrumental, working alongside a number of musical partners. All of our instrumental concerts and most of our choral concerts involve professional musicians. We will be significantly increasing the number of these, with both popular and more adventurous programming.
2) Working with sector-leading musical partners. Governed by a new set of partnership principles, we will work with a number of key musical partners in order to build the profile of our musical output. The principles and process of becoming a partner will be advertised in the coming weeks and will be open and transparent.
3) Externally promoted concerts. We will continue to be open to applications from all those who wish to hire the church to promote concerts, including those who have hired the church or performed previously, along with new promoters. The process for selecting these externally promoted concerts will be transparent and fair.
We begin this new direction with a three-week long Summer Festival of virtual concerts starting on Thursday 13 August. The Summer Festival is supported by donors to St Martin-in-the-Fields Trust. Following that, thanks to the generous support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we are delighted to announce a weekly concert series beginning in September, online-only, and then with socially-distanced audience as rules allow. We are working to bring back our lunchtime concerts in an online format soon, and we hope that they will return with an in-person audience as soon as we are able. We will shortly be publishing our partnership principles, inviting partners to work with us, and at the same time putting out a call for auditions to significantly build our pool of freelance orchestral musicians for in-house concerts. We hope to be able again to offer St Martin’s as a performance venue to external groups from April 2021, depending on government regulations.