Chamber choir

Wimbledon International Music Festival returns with plans for a new concert hall

Wimbledon International Music Festival returns for another year with ambitious plans to create a new concert hall.

Running daily from 12-29 November, the festival features world-class performers with everything from classical and jazz to soloists and ensembles, as well as giving a platform to artists in the early stages of their careers.

The festival is working alongside the highly acclaimed architect Frank Gehry, to curate a new home for live music, forming an influential attraction for the area.

Founder and festival director, Anthony Wilkinson, said: “The new concert hall will make Wimbledon, along with the festival, a really important magnet for the top international musicians, putting Wimbledon on the cultural map.”

With support from the council, Wilkinson is working alongside Canadian-American Gehry, who is renowned for creating several highly influential major works including the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA and the Guggenheim Museum in Spain, which generates substantial income for the local areas.

Initial plans for the 1,250-seater concert hall include a stage for a full orchestra, recording facilities and state-of-the-art lighting and projections.

With the festival currently held at multiple locations across the district, the concert hall would be built on the site of Hartfield Road car park in the town, owned by Merton Council, situated less than 200 yards from Wimbledon station.

“Cultural centres give a special dimension to a city, and I don’t see why all the great cultural centres need to be in the middle of a metropolis like London,” wrote Gehry.

“If you have a beautiful concert hall in a fantastic, successful, aspiring suburb like Wimbledon, I would think it absolutely invaluable,” he added.

Currently the concert hall is looking to commission Gehry to develop his plans to planning consent.

Patrons of the Wimbledon Concert Hall Trust already include Dame Darcey Bussell, conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Wilkinson started the festival 14 years ago, with his renowned contacts from his work as a former BBC music producer.

The festival coincides with the significant date, 22 November, St Cecilia’s Day, the Patron Saint of Music, to celebrate the event.

The highly claimed performers include the Brodsky Quartet celebrating its 50th anniversary, Tenebrae, the Louis Lortie – Hélène Mercier Duo, Chineke!, and the Philharmonia Orchestra.

“We are trying to give our audience the feeling that they’re getting the world’s very best on their doorstep.

“I think live performances are very important because you have an experience, you can listen to music in many ways but to actually have that music created for you as you’re in the audience is magical,” said Wilkinson.

Find out more here.

Featured image credit: Courtesy of Wimbledon International Music Festival.

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