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Let's find a way to put the music back into Kenwood's summer

PUBLISHED: 13:34 26 February 2007 | UPDATED: 14:28 07 September 2010

WHETHER you love them or hate them – and for thousands of people they are an essential element in Hampstead s summer – the loss of the Kenwood Concerts is a crying shame. You may blame English Heritage, agreeing with the Highgate Society chairman Gordon F

WHETHER you love them or hate them - and for thousands of people they are an essential element in Hampstead's summer - the loss of the Kenwood Concerts is a crying shame.

You may blame English Heritage, agreeing with the Highgate Society chairman Gordon Forbes that the nature of the concerts has changed for the worse over the years (society-speak for 'dumbing down'). You may agree with Barnet Assembly member Brian Coleman that the concerts have become 'tacky' and rejoice at their demise.

You may even be on the side of Cllr Sue Vincent - she who put a real spanner in the works as a difficult election loomed last year by banning two of the concerts. If the managers who run the concerts can't make money out of the eight that remain following the council's decision, they should be replaced by people who can, she chides.

But the upshot of it all is that there will be no concerts this summer and tens of thousands of people with a wide range of musical tastes and preferences, will have to look elsewhere for their traditional Saturday night entertainment.

There are many people who firmly believe that the Heath is seen at its best on a pleasant summer evening, when the sun is setting over the concert stage as thousands of people picnic in the grounds against the majestic backdrop of a floodlit Kenwood House.

Others with equal passion believe that such a serene setting is no place for live music, deafening fireworks and thousands of paying customers.

In recent years the concerts have stumbled from crisis to crisis and the decision by English Heritage to abandon them this year is a sign of huge frustration. Referring to those who object, the organisation's chief executive Simon Thurley laments: ''We run concerts all over the country and we don't have to put up with this anywhere else.''

This may be true, but it is also true that few communities care as dearly about the treasures that have been bequeathed them than do the people of Hampstead in relation to the Heath and Kenwood House. The good that might come from this year's unhappy postponement is that it effectively introduces a cooling-off period.Everyone involved might now reflect on the loss of the concerts, the advantages and disadvantages thereof, and then work together to find a sustainable way of re-establishing this wonderful event in its truly world-class location.


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