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‘Kenwood should drop rockers like Suede and Keane’ after summer concerts axed this year

15:00 27 March 2014

Live By The Lake 2013 concerts at Kenwood House, Hampstead. Kenwood concerts 2013. Picture: Dieter Perry 
Pictured performing are Suede.

Live By The Lake 2013 concerts at Kenwood House, Hampstead. Kenwood concerts 2013. Picture: Dieter Perry Pictured performing are Suede.

Dieter Perry

Organisers have been urged not to book rock bands like Suede and Keane for Kenwood’s summer concerts – after this year’s programme was unexpectedly axed following poor ticket sales last year.

English Heritage, which manages Kenwood House and the surrounding grounds, has been encouraged to take the famous concerts back to their classical roots when they return in the future by the chairman of a prominent society.

Kirsten de Keyser, chairman of the Highgate Society, believes the concerts failed last year because they had become too much like a rock festival.

Her comments come after promoter Rouge Events pulled out of running the events, after suffering “major losses” due to low ticket sales last year, meaning they will not return until 2015 at the earliest.

Ms de Keyser said: “They’ve tried to revamp the concerts and I think that’s probably where the mistake is. Suddenly everybody fell in love with the idea of having a concert and they made it more like a rock festival, but it’s not that kind of venue.”

“It’s a serene, tranquil, classy and sophisticated setting. Let’s not try to make it something which it is not.”

Her statements were echoed by John Plews, artistic director of Highgate playhouse Upstairs at the Gatehouse theatre, who said: “I have a feeling that many local people would like to see the concerts return as a classical music series, similar to the summers of several years ago.”

Rouge had laid on a mixed musical programme led by major acts like Suede and Keane, along with West End star Michael Ball and light classical performances.

English Heritage said this week that the concerts were an “important source of income” for Kenwood, but that it has been protected from making significant losses by using an external contractor.

A spokesman added that Kenwood is now set to host a food festival this summer, which will “help to address the shortfall” created by the cancellation.

Alex Sydney, English Heritage’s head of historic properties in London, said: “There are more and more outdoor concerts in London and the Kenwood concerts suffered as a result of this competition. Last year made it very clear to us that in the future, the concerts at Kenwood will need to distinguish themselves from these similar offerings. We will be exploring what potential partners might be able to offer us over the coming months.”

The concerts were spread over three weekends last year and Rouge Events had initially been positive about the season, particularly after the first weekend which attracted some 14,000 visitors.

But the company received some criticism over noise levels, for banning picnics from the pop gigs and erecting large fencing to cordon off the site throughout the season.

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