JW3 music programmer: ‘I don’t care if they’re Jewish or not”

Katya Apekisheva appears at JW3 this Sunday

Katya Apekisheva appears at JW3 this Sunday - Credit: Archant

Irene Newton, who previously oversaw concerts at the LJCC, tells Michael White why quality is her only only criterion.

“I couldn’t care less if they’re Jewish or they’re not”, said Irene Newton as we sat discussing the musicians she engages. “I’m just interested in quality”.

That’s how it was when she was programming concerts at the former London Jewish Cultural Centre beside Golders Hill Park. And it’s how things have continued now she’s at the glittering palace of the arts that has succeeded it: JW3.

“The ethos here”, she adds, “is clear enough: we’re running Hebrew classes, there’s a kosher restaurant. But our mission is to engage the community as a whole. We’re open to everyone. We have no political links with the Israeli embassy, we’re completely independent. And as for the artists who play here, if they’re Jewish that’s fine, if not that’s fine too. All that matters is their music”.

The current season has included an evening with the baritone Sir Thomas Allen. Coming up in February is Dame Felicity Lott, with violinist Nicola Benedetti and cellist Ralph Kirshbaum to follow in March. And this coming weekend there’s the outstanding violin & piano duo of Jack Liebeck and Katya Apekisheva playing Schubert, Brahms and a sonata by the little-known, late-19th Century Belgian composer Guillaume Lekeu (whose obscurity is not unconnected with the fact that he died the day after his 24th birthday).

“That we’re so conveniently close to Finchley Rd & Frognal Overground”, says Newton, “means that now we’ve got more profile we’re attracting audiences from Richmond, Hackney and all over London”. So advance booking is advisable.

Liebeck and Apekisheva are at JW3, Sunday 13 Dec, 3.30pm. jw3.org.uk