Crouch End neighbours run lockdown classical concerts

Music at Home Gemma Sharples introduces another concert

Music at Home Gemma Sharples introduces another concert - Credit: Archant

The Home Concert Club is running regular family and adult concerts to entertain audiences who are missing classical music - and make sure the performers are paid

One of the Zoom concerts by the Home Concert Club

One of the Zoom concerts by the Home Concert Club - Credit: Archant

Crouch End neighbours Barbara Bleiman and Julie Schwarz have come up with a series of virtual concerts to entertain audiences in lockdown - and ensure musicians get paid.

The Home Concert Club sprang from a chat between the pair at the start of lockdown.

“Julie came up with the idea to do something for the local community to provide music at home to people who were missing shared cultural experiences,” says Bleiman who has lived in N8 for 30 years.

Her daughter Gemma Sharples - a professional violinist with the London Mozart Players who teaches at Highgate School and the Royal Academy - was keen to help.

pianist Anyssa Neumann will appear in the next Zoom concert on June 17

pianist Anyssa Neumann will appear in the next Zoom concert on June 17 - Credit: Archant

“We knew from her that musicians in the few days after lockdown lost all their future bookings and thought this would be fantastic, not just for audiences, but to give professional musicians a chance to play live.

“We realised many musicians were streaming their work for free, but not much was paid for and we wanted to give them a fee. There’s no ticket price, we just ask audiences to donate. It’s fantastic that they have given enough for us to guarantee the next four or five concerts.”

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Run on a voluntary basis, they shared details of concerts via local Whatsapp and Facebook groups and put flyers in parks such as Highgate Wood.

Sharples, who attended Coleridge Primary and now lives in Highbury, introduces performers and gives a steer on programming and “what works well”.

“Some are soloists who have found unaccompanied pieces or added a backing track, and some are families of musicians or partners performing together in their kitchen or living room,” adds Bleiman. “They talk about their lockdown experiences, the pieces and their instruments.

“Audiences can see each other and comment live on the chat line, which really gives the musicians a sense of performing live and talking directly to them. It’s a really lovely warm atmosphere.”

The latest family concert on Tuesday saw cellist Francesca Ter-Berg performing an interactive session of Klezmer and folk music including a singalong. The next on June 17 features pianist Anyssa Neumann and Sebastian Comberti - principal cellist with the London Mozart Players.

Home Concert Club now has a Twitter account and Facebook page and Bleiman adds: “The last concert involved 120 households linking people in California and Highgate. Lockdown has brought out people’s inventiveness and innovation to find a way around the limitations.”