London Mozart Players
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|London Mozart Players|
Official London Mozart Players logo
|Concert hall||Fairfield Halls, Croydon|
|Principal conductor||Gérard Korsten|
The London Mozart Players (LMP) is a British chamber orchestra founded in 1949. The LMP is the longest-established chamber orchestra in the United Kingdom whose performances and recordings focus largely on the core repertoire from the classical era. Since 1989, the orchestra has been based at Fairfield Halls, Croydon.
The LMP was founded in 1949 by Harry Blech, a violinist who was beginning to turn his hand to conducting, who had been asked by pianist Dorothea Braus to form an orchestra with which she could play two Mozart piano concertos. The concert took place on 11 February at Wigmore Hall, London and the programme also included two Mozart symphonies, Nos. 28 in C and 29 in A. With this sell-out concert Harry Blech realised that he had found an audience for the music he wanted to perform; that of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and their contemporaries. The Haydn-Mozart Society was created shortly after with William Walton as its chairman and Alan Rawsthorne as one of the committee members.
On 3 May 1951, the Royal Festival Hall was opened and the LMP was invited to perform as part of the RFH's opening week of concerts. The orchestra then switched its operation to the more appropriately-sized Queen Elizabeth Hall after its opening in 1967. In 1956, the LMP embarked on its first overseas tour to Italy by way of Amsterdam. During Blech's time as principal conductor, the orchestra made many commercial recordings  and was also regularly broadcast on the Third Programme and its successor, BBC Radio 3.
Jane Glover became Harry Blech's successor in 1984 and introduced much new repertoire to the LMP concert programmes as well as appointing Howard Shelley and Andrew Parrott as Associate Conductors. The most significant development of Jane Glover's time with the orchestra was the LMP's move to Croydon in 1989, to become Resident Orchestra of the London Borough of Croydon and of Fairfield Halls. This followed a successful series of concerts at Fairfield in 1988, supported by Greater London Arts, which had shown a strong potential following for the orchestra in the Borough, and also demonstrated the excellence of Fairfield's acoustics for the LMP's repertoire. Croydon Council and Nestlé, whose UK headquarters are opposite Fairfield, were approached for support, and a unique tripartite alliance was formed, between local authority, private sector sponsor and arts organization.
With Glover the LMP made a number of television broadcasts and during Mozart's bicentennial year in 1991, performed Mozart's Requiem in St Paul's Cathedral which was televised live and timed to finish to the exact minute of the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death. This performance was attended by The Princess of Wales and The Prince Edward, who had become the orchestra's Patron in 1990 and who has since actively supported the orchestra at concerts in the UK and on tours abroad, as well as assisting with the orchestra's fundraising activities. With Glover, Thomas Bowes led the ensemble at their BBC Proms debut in 1991.
In 1992, Swiss conductor Matthias Bamert became principal conductor of the LMP and during his time, produced a considerable body of recording with Chandos Records (which continues to this day). In April 1996, the LMP made their debut in the Musikverein concert hall in Vienna .
Working alongside Matthias Bamert was the conductor and pianist Howard Shelley, who was Associate Conductor and Principal Guest Conductor with the LMP from 1990-1998. Shelley has performed as both conductor and soloist/director with the orchestra and continues to make several appearances with the LMP every year. In 1999, flutist Sir James Galway succeeded Shelley as Principal Guest Conductor. Like Shelley, Galway has often combined the dual roles of conductor and soloist and has also worked with the orchestra on several recordings.
In September 2000, British conductor Andrew Parrott was appointed Music Director, a position which he held until 2006. A specialist in the LMP's core repertoire, and also a renowned choral and opera conductor, Andrew Parrott has broadened the scope of the orchestra's work, introducing some early Romantic symphonies as well as more vocal and choral music.
On 22 October 2009, the LMP announced the appointment of South African conductor Gérard Korsten as Music Director Designate who will assume the role at the start of the LMP's 2010/11 concert season.
On 1 May 2014, at the time of the cessation of funding from Croydon Council, the LMP became a self-governing orchestra, one of the first UK chamber orchestras to be managed in this way. The first project the new player-led group took on was a tour of China playing in Wuhan, Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.
- 1949-1984 Harry Blech
- 1984-1992 Jane Glover
- 1992-2000 Matthias Bamert
- 2000-2006 Andrew Parrott
- 2010-2014 Gérard Korsten
Contemporaries of Mozart series
In 1993, the London Mozart Players began a series of recordings for Chandos Records of works by lesser-known eighteenth-century composers, entitled the Contemporaries of Mozart series. Many of these recordings have drawn widespread critical acclaim and have been credited with bringing these lesser-heard composers to the public light. A number of releases have also been awarded Editor's Choice in Gramophone magazine. The series includes works by:
- "Biography: Thomas Bowes". Retrieved 18 February 2012.