An Iconic Venue
St James’ Church, just south of Mayfair, is really quite special. Beyond the religious duties that St James’ carries out, it has also become a celebrated concert space – in part due to its wonderful acoustics – and prides itself on its busy performance schedule. Throughout the year, both lunchtime and evening recitals delight a loyal audience, who come in from the nearby exclusive neighbourhoods of London: Mayfair, Belgravia, and Marylebone.
REM in Concert
A particularly noteworthy performance to have graced the venue in September 2004, REM recorded a selection of tracks from the iconic institution as part of a secret show for Radio 2. The invitation-only show was held to promote the band’s album Around the Sun and featured tracks that had never been heard before.
Part of the magic of St James’ is the setting. The church was designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren, the famous architect behind the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, in which students still graduate to this day, and London’s iconic St Paul’s Cathedral. Consecrated on 13th July 1684 by Henry Compton, the Bishop of London, St James’ Church has been central to the community ever since, despite suffering heavy damage under enemy bombing during the Second World War.
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Rebuilt under the watchful gaze of architect, Sir Albert Richardson, it is no wonder the setting renders the concerts so wonderful: St James’ is the embodiment of the history and change witnessed by Mayfair and Piccadilly over time.
The lunchtime recitals offer the opportunity to discover less known talent and new music genres, often for free. For example, Wednesday the 26th October will see the Dominic Alldis Trio perform jazz arrangements of classical masterpieces, including Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba and Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Although the warm familiarity of classical music is quintessential in the build up to Christmas, no doubt newer interpretations of these masterpieces will be able to pique one’s interest.
The evening recitals are a rather more grandiose affair. December is, of course, focused on Christmas carols and classics, such as London Orpheus Choir’s A Fanfare for Chistmas on the 15th, or Handel’s Messiah, performed on the 22nd by the Six Centuries Chamber Choir. However, the more usual programme consists of spellbinding classical music: Wednesday 16th November is a prime example, featuring the opera trio Tre Amici.
Notably, St James’ Church also supports emerging talent, such as those who are part of Talent Unlimited. This charity provides financial support to music students worldwide who have exceptional talent, but limited means. The lunchtime recitals are a unique opportunity for these young musicians to perform for a new audience. The young soprano, Nazan Fikret, a 2016 International Opera Awards bursary winner, is performing on the 25th November – put it in your diaries now!
More Than Music
St James’ is not only a place for beautiful music: six days a week, the church hosts the Piccadilly Market within its courtyard, selling food, crafts and antique, as well as regularly housing art exhibitions. As London looks forward to Christmas, with events such as the switching on of the Shepherd market Christmas Lights in Mayfair and the arrival of Somerset House’s well-loved ice rink, St James’ concerts and presence in the community are sure to encourage a festive spirit – one more inclined to encourage an embracing of the oncoming winter months.
How To Get There
Music at St James’ Church is just one of the many cultural offerings near Mayfair. Speak to the Pastor Real Estate team to discuss the many other benefits of living in the area.