Marylebone Music Festival 2016
In 2016, The Marylebone Music Festival brought the annual pleasure gardens back to the area after a 240 year hiatus. Here are some of the highlights, events and faces from last year's festival.
Charles Cumming's Introduction to MMF 2016
It is the autumn of 1986. A gangly adolescent public schoolboy saunters down Marylebone High Street listening to Dire Straits on his Sony Walkman. A few days earlier, he has spent his entire savings on a second-hand suede jacket and a pair of state-of-the-art winklepickers. Though only 14 years old, he is wearing Eau Sauvage aftershave and smoking a Marlboro Light, coughing as he teaches himself to inhale.
He comes to a record shop. He goes to the Punk section but is quickly frightened off by an album cover featuring ‘Stiff Little Fingers’. He knows nothing about the Blues, even less about Heavy Metal. Indeed, it is a sign of the gangly adolescent’s inverse sense of cool that he heads for the Classical Music section instead, buying – on a whim – a cassette of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No2 in F Minor. Though he doesn’t know it at the time, this moment is to change his life.
The hopelessly unhip adolescent was myself. The Chopin concerto was the first classical composition that I had ever listened to and, to this day, remains one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. So I have always associated Marylebone with classical music, which is why I am so excited by the inaugural Marylebone Music Festival, which begins on June 24th.
Over three days, it will be possible to listen to some of the finest musicians in the country performing works by Strauss, Ravel, Mozart, Purcell and Schuman. The great Rick Wakeman will be performing his ‘Symphony for the Spectrum’ while audiences can enjoy the remarkable spectacle of The Great British Bake Off’s Sue Perkins conducting Fauré’s Requiem and Cantique de Jean Racine. Will she remember to take off her oven gloves?
It will be a marvelous three days. I look forward to seeing you all in the Pleasure Gardens, eating strawberries, drinking champagne and celebrating one of the great cultural events of the London summer.
Charles Cumming, June 2016