Kings Place Festival 2011 Saturday Round-Up

Marius Neset, Jasper Hoiby, Anton Eger, (Nick Ramm out of shot)
Photo credit: Cat Munro

Kings Place Festival 2011 Round-Up by Sebastian Scotney

There's a common link between The Arts Desk, Edition Records, Aurora Orchestra, all featured during the Kings Place Festival, and Kings Place itself. The conection is that none of them existed six years ago. Aurora is the six-year old, Edition Records is 3 1/2, Kings Place was having its fourth September Festival, ie its third birthday, The Arts Desk was celebrating its second birthday.

So each in its turn will have gone through the phases of "Does London/the UK really need another..."/"How long can you afford to keep this going?/ "You're 'brave' and probably off your trolley to start a..." [reviews website/ jazz record label/ chamber orchestra/ arts venue"/  ].

In each case  the organization has become a success in its field, sturdy, shaping the agenda, increasingly seen as benchmarks of quality for other players in their sector. Thus:

-Aurora is now ACE-funded

-One national newspaper critic congratulated the Arts Desk on Twitter with the following compliment: "[I] hope you continue to flourish (and keep the rest of us on our toes)."

- One commentator called Edition "The UK's best jazz record label  (IMHO)"

-Kings Place is not just London conference venue of the year, the arts programming is now seen as seeting the trend in breadth and imaginativeness

The first event of the festival which I attended was the Arts Desk's second birthday symposium on the Art of Performance, cleverly thought through, and worth catching in its live stream version. A singer, a dancer, an actor and an instrumental musician compare their experience of performing.

Neil Yates at Kings Place
Photo credit: Cat Munro

I caught two Saturday events in the Edition Records showcase. Dave Stapleton's group performed his varied, through-composed "Catching Sunlight" suite, featuring the soulful inimitable trumpet of Neil Yates. I found I missed the generous but commanding bass presence in this group of Paula Gardiner who appears on the record.

By way of complete contrast was Marius Neset's fiery quartet on the final gig of it's UK tour giving a sell-out audience the ride of its life. Anton Eger  in particular was playing as if his life depended on every touch of a cymbal. Inspiring.

The Aurora Orchestra produce some of the most imaginative classical programming to be had anywhere. Diary of One Who Disappeared by Janacek is a piece which makes the distinction between  song cycle and mini-opera irrelevant. A great story, with John Reid a the piano digging deep into Janacek's emotive piano writing, and providing faultless continuity and support for the singers. Also memorable was the fanfare from the Janacek Sinfonietta performed in the atrium, socking it to the punters and echoing round the building.

Then the most optimistic possibe ending to the day, seeing Iain Ballamy lead a band of Royal Academy of Music students through his compositions. "It Needn't End In Tears," featured Ballamy's own playing at its most gentle, focussed and balanced. And to watch the students as they looked on and listened intently to him,  absorbing, it seemed, every nuance into their individual consciousnesses, was enough to confirm one's faith in renewal.
 
Believe in new.

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