Enjoy Baroque by candlelight at Hornsey Town Hall

Peter Hanson

Peter Hanson - Credit: Archant

Michael White talks to violinist Peter Hanson, who hopes to revive the venue’s concert hall pedigree of decades past.

Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s Hornsey Town Hall was a destination on the life-map of large numbers of musicians, because many of the London orchestras would go there to rehearse. It had a good acoustic, it was comfortable, and everyone in the business was fond of it.

But then the place fell into disuse. For decades it was empty, until recently when Haringay Council gave a temporary licence for it to be run as an arts centre. And now the building is up for sale - albeit with a proviso that, being Grade II listed, part of it at least must stay in public use and be restored. Which is where a period-performance violinist called Peter Hanson steps into the picture.

It’s not that he dabbles in property development or is a potential purchaser; but he’s someone who remembers the Hall’s musical past and wants to revive it – starting in a small way with concerts like the one taking place there this weekend.

As he says, “even as an arts centre, the main assembly hall is hardly used. So as I live locally in Crouch End I thought I’d try to resurrect it as a music venue.

“There are plenty of musicians round here, and a lot of them are period players like me: I was in the English Concert under Trevor Pinnock, and right from the beginning I’ve been concert master of John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Romantique et Revolutionnaire. So I’ve drummed up a band with some substantial figures from the period circuit, and we’re doing a candle-lit Christmas programme of baroque composers – Handel, Corelli, Vivaldi – that I hope people will want to come to”.

Part of a short Sunday series that Hanson has created at the Town Hall, it will hopefully establish some kind of precedent – although that depends on the outcome of the sale. Fingers crossed.

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Baroque Music for Christmas, 13th Dec, 8pm, Hornsey Town Hall, Crouch End Broadway N8. hthartscentre.co.uk