Critics give award to venue that they never review

Critics give award to venue that they never review


norman lebrecht

May 16, 2022

The church of St Mary’s Perivale, on the outskirts of London, has been voted Lockdown Star in the annual Critics’ Circle awards.

St Mary’s streamed 156 concerts during lockdown from an empty church, with no public funding.

Only one problem: these concerts hardly ever get reviewed by the critics who have given the award.

The concerts are run by a maverick group of retired volunteers who pay musicians from their own resources, shelling out more that £50,000 during lockdown.

More info at


  • LP says:

    I might also add that if you don’t have a personal connection to those who run the St Mary’s Perivale series, you have little chance of getting a concert there. Another closed loop in the insular UK music scene….

    • Hugh Mather says:

      That’s simply not true. We put on 130 concerts a year, including about 65 piano recitals, but even with this number of events it is impossible to cater for everyone who wants to perform. We try to spread the jam as widely and as fairly as possible, and it is certainly not based on personal connections. Send me an email if you think you have been unfairly treated. My email is on our website.

      • LP says:

        Alas in my experience (and in the experience of some UK-based colleagues) it IS true. Query emails get no response, and the line-up at St Mary’s Perivale consists of many returnees. I realise it’s a volunteer-run venture, and should be applauded for its many successes, especially during Covid, but it’s a closed door for many musicians, one with no way to open apart from a personal connection.

      • Hmm says:

        Is that why you keep using the same artists again and again? Does Viv McLean live in your church?

    • Donna Pasquale says:

      This is the kind of disgraceful, snide and petty comment that mars Slipped Disc.

  • Alan says:

    A fine group with many wonderful performances available to view.
    Doesn’t need critics.

  • Hugh Mather says:

    Thank you for this plug. We at St Mary’s Perivale are very grateful to everyone in the Critics’ Circle for this prestigious award. We stream more concerts than any other venue – 130 per year – and we feel that we can compete with anywhere else re both the musical and technical quality of our transmissions. Here is the citation from the Critics’ Circle

  • Tiredofitall says:

    Without critics, how will we know if we like it or not?

  • Greg says:

    I guess you never met a potential controversy you could explore. Is it at all possible in that TMZ-like mind of yours to consider that maybe the critics awarded St. Mary’s this honor because of the selflessness and generosity of their endeavor? Really, nothing to see here. Look for scandal elsewhere.

  • fflambeau says:

    “a maverick group of retired volunteers”?

    How about, a devoted group of retired volunteers? Otherwise, good story if too brief.

  • Hugh Mather says:

    Well this has been a very interesting exercise. I never realized that there were a significant number of people who were unhappy with our activities at St Mary’s Perivale, particularly re the selection of musicians for our concerts. I need to write a blog about the whole subject, but here are a few points. Firstly I always reply to emails, full stop, as a matter of principle, and if one or two have slipped through the net I profusely apologize. Secondly, I alone choose all the musicians, as I have done for 1150 concerts since 2004, in which about 400 pianists have played – here is an old list . Thirdly, I always have ‘new’ pianists as well as pianists who have played before, so today we have Milda Dauronaite, and recently have had Daniel Hyunwoo and Pietro Fresa and shortly will have Yuchong Wu and Kenny Fu, who haven’t given recitals before. Fourthly, I try to balance this with more established pianists who have played for years and are now personal friends – yes Viv McLean, and Dinara Klinton, Ashley Fripp, Mengyang Pan, Caterina Grewe and about 20 more, all of whom are chosen because they are undeniably superb pianists. I have a spreadsheet with 150 pianists, all of whom want a recital, so I can only give an annual recital to a few of them, and hardly ever have more than one per year. I am genuinely sorry if people reading this feel aggrieved. If they drop me an email – – I will see if I can put things right. With best wishes to all.