Classical concerts @ St John’s church, Smith Square, Westminster, SW1P 3HA

So why on earth am I telling you about an old church? Well, that was sort of what I was thinking when The Chef booked date night there. But it was another wonderful discovery that I’m very pleased to have made. So thank you Chef. Interesting choice of concert though (I cannot say more for fear of reprisals*). Its a gorgeous baroque church near the Houses of Parliament which holds lots of interesting and reasonably priced classical concerts. And importantly it has a crypt bar which serves carrot cake and wine for intervals. 

As an adult, I’ve only dabbled in classical music. I have a few classical albums on the iPod which I listen to when feeling grown up or particularly hungover and in need of soothing. I’m still fairly ignorant – I know the tunes, y’know, the stuff we all know – Best Classical Music From Adverts Vol 1, the opening music fr0m Trading Places, Holst’s Planets with the rugby world cup World in Union bit in it, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons which is recognisble, beautiful to listen to and nicely fits into a 1 hour concert, Mozart’s Requiem from my love of the film Amadeus. I liked Elgar and I’d like to listen to him more, and Mozart’s 4th, but I’ve only ever heard them played by my folks or at funerals. That’s about my repertoire but I’d like to get into it more. I’ve been to the Proms and I liked it (bit staid in parts though, I’m a child of 90s house music – I still feel like whistling / whooping when a melody I recognise comes on). I’ve seen opera – Tosca, Carmen and Don Giovanni – all in Prague and super cheap (we got a box for Don Giovanni, in the first theatre it was ever performed in, for £20 each).

In Prague, classical concerts are held in stunning venues which litter the place, last 1 hour or so (perfect for a wandering mind like mine – also a consequence of clubbing in the 90s), cost about £10-15, and the quality of the music is amazing. Its a lovely night out, especially combined with some vino. But I’d stopped going once I got back to London, not knowing good venues and not wanting to spend a fortune on a ticket.

And if I’m honest, part of me does think its all a bit grown up and I’m still rebelling somewhat against the idea that I might be getting old and dull. When did I stop going out in Shoreditch til the wee hours on a school night? When did I get so tired all the time? Why can I not think of anything worse than going clubbing in Soho?  

But I have to face it – I’m not as young and fresh-faced as I once was, and I will soon think of nothing better on a Saturday night than a nice cup of hot chocolate, Pride and Prejudice the boxset, and a nice early night. But until then, I’m a tweenie – between nights out and being curious and sometimes irresponsible, and longing for comfort and long conversations.  So I’m still doing shots and backpacking, but I’m also preferring old man’s pubs to trendy bars and its the Highlands rather than Ibiza. So as well as planning to see some gigs in London, and a festival this Summer, I’m going to check out St John’s for their upcoming classical concerts and go along with friends, dress up a bit, feel cultured. It really is lovely inside and has some fantastic evening and lunchtime concerts – piano recitals, singers, orchestras and string quartets. The Rosenblatt recitals (described by Londonist as “pared down opera in a church”) sound especially great. They are also hosting a festival of Baroque music in May. Its a very different night out and a nice thing to take visiting parents I reckon too.

Anyway, in case you are hovering between the two and don’t realise it, here are some signs that you too have finally hit the old and boring side of the 20s / 30s divide:

  1. You find yourself wishing you could be in your local pub rather than that club in Soho because you can, y’know, sit down and talk
  2. You regularly buy wine that costs more than £8 a bottle (compared to the vinegar you used to drink)
  3. You’ve cancelled the festival mailings from Secret Garden and Glastonbury and are instead looking at The Big Chill, Green Man and Latitude
  4. You arrange to meet friends for yoga or brunch at the weekends, rather than assuming you’ll still be in bed recovering until lunchtime
  5. In the last month, you’ve been to 3 dinner parties, 2 children’s birthday parties, 1 christening and 0 house parties
  6. Not all your friends still own the same IKEA CD rack / sofa throw / bin
  7. Most of the gigs you’ve been to lately consist of comeback gigs or live sessions of original albums from the 90s. Or Kings Of Leon.
  8. You’ve bought any of the following: an expensive electric toothbrush, Converse all stars in a “wacky” colour, a decent suitcase, nice “house clothes” for lounging, cut chrystal wine or whisky glasses, coasters
  9. You did the Radio 1/ XFM / Radio 6 to Radio 4 morning switch a while back and find yourself commenting on how shit modern chart music is
  10. You don’t care that you’re not fashionable, the amount of clothes you buy has decreased dramatically, and you now shop for “comfort” (and often in Kathmandu / Blacks)
  11. You aim to cook a herb-encrusted rack of lamb rather than spag bol when you invite friends round for dinner, you get stressed trying to impress people (which you promised yourself you would never do) and you don’t still have an ashtray in the middle of the dining table
  12. You are finally getting round to selling your decks / amp / waist-high speakers
  13. You have a financial adviser AND an accountant
  14. Friday nights are now recovering from the working week, rather than the start of your weekend partying

* Seeing as he has admitted it publicly, The Chef took me to a SCHOOL CONCERT (neither of us have any offspring) which, although it did contain Vivaldi’s Gloria, it also contained lots of 7 year olds in their primary school choir singing “those magnificent men in their flying machines, they go up-diddly-up up, they go down-diddly-down” etc…

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3 responses to “Classical concerts @ St John’s church, Smith Square, Westminster, SW1P 3HA

  1. You also went to see Madam Butterfly when you were very young. I booked a box so you could lie on the floor crasyonning when you got bored. Maybe you should do that now!

  2. Now when she gets bored she starts huffing and puffing and saying that she’s bored. I’ll get some crayons.

  3. “you’ve bought an expensive electric toothbrush” – so true! 18 year old me would have cried if she knew how much i spent on something i use for just 6 minutes a day (nearly 30 year old tells her to be grateful – she still doesn’t have a single filling)

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