saxophonist performing

Vauxhall concerts continue online to make classical music more inclusive

A free classical music festival in Vauxhall this weekend is reaching more people online and breaking down the boundaries of classical music.

Classical Vauxhall, a series of free concerts, is taking place online this weekend after coronavirus restrictions meant the annual festival could not go ahead in person.

Caragh Cheesman, one of the organisers, said: “It has been such a tough year for the arts and creative industries, especially for the ones in Vauxhall.

“We are trying to make classical music more accessible and more inclusive and try to break down the usual barriers around it.

“It’s so nice to reach more people and not just people local to Vauxhall but to people across London the UK and the world.”

Last year, the venue had a maximum capacity of 320 people over the three nights, but this year one concert alone has sold the same number of tickets as across the whole weekend last year.

One of the performers, Jess Gillam, a saxophonist trying to bring classical music to new audiences, said: “Every single online concert feels like an incredible gift to be able to share music with people.

“I hope that it might bring some joy to these dark days of lockdown. Music is amazing at being able to transport us to different places and take you to a completely different world, so I hope it might give people a moment away from the world.”

Concert tickets are free but come with an optional donation to raise money for the group’s educational outreach programme.

In partnership with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the organisation is making lesson plans and resources for teachers to get children engaged in live music and thinking about classical.

Vauxhall One, one of the forces behind Classical Vauxhall, is also creating a music film for children and streaming live masterclasses for budding violinists which will be kept online to be used as a resource.

Cheesman said: “It’s all about outreach into the local community and getting the primary schools involved.”

Classical Vauxhall is keen to find future talent in Lambeth and Vauxhall, and is calling out on social media for any budding musicians to share videos of them performing so they can take part in future events.

Next year’s event is planned to be a hybrid event with concerts in person and online to continue to reach people around the world but with a physical audience too.

For those who may be unsure whether classical music and these events are for them, Gillam encouraged people to give it a go.

She said: “Music that has an emotional impact transcends age, and when a piece of music has an emotional response it doesn’t matter who is performing or what genre it is from.

“Classical covers such a broad range of sounds and there is so much to explore. You don’t need any knowledge to listen to it and you don’t need to have had any education in it.

“You can listen and just be curious about it and be taken away by this epic sound. Just try and find different things you like.”

Photo of Jess Gillam provided by Classical Vauxhall

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