As larger orchestras puzzle out a new way to perform live, this London venue forged ahead with a series of live concerts featuring world-class artists.
The cellist Steven Isserlis, violinist Alina Ibragimova and pianist Pavel Kolesnikov were among the first of the top-flight players appearing at Fidelio Orchestra Cafe, each playing for a number of nights in a row, to increase the size of the audience. Each event is open to just 25 people.
Each programme, lasting an hour or so, is followed by dinner, the menu especially created and prepared for the occasion by Alan Rosenthal. There is a choice of dishes on ordering in advance, and the evening includes a welcome drink and a drink with dinner, with additional table service.
Katerina Mina sings operatic arias on 5 Dec. Photo: Reid Photography
Tables in the specially reconfigured venue are pre-allocated to groups of two, three or four people from one household, with a couple of single tables too. Music-lovers are escorted to and from their tables, and to the cloakrooms.
Among December events, a delightful evening of operatic arias on Sat 5 Dec features soprano Katerina Mina in Handel, Bellini, Gershwin (Summertime) and Puccini (Un bel di vedremo – ‘One fine day...’.
The café, a relaxed classical music venue that is the brainchild of Italian-born pianist and conductor Raffaello Morales, had been a new home for established and rising artists until lockdown. Now it is back in business, with its distinctive mix of high-calibre performance in an easy-going ambience.
The artists are of such international standing that they would normally attract audiences running into thousands – at the BBC Proms, for example. But such is the desire of players to get out and perform again that the tiny audiences at Fidelio Orchestra Café are enjoying what is virtually a private recital.
Fidelio Orchestra Cafe founder Raffaello Morales, conducting the London-based orchestra he also created. Photo: Simon Holliday
Says Morales: 'We need to find ways of making things happen in a way that's safe. Our USP was always to provide a more informal experience around music. We can still do that with a very reduced number of people involved.
'My hope is that other music institutions will be encouraged in similar projects. It's not competitive! The music community need to stand together through this phase and it is essential that we continue to give hope to young generations of musicians as well as to inspire audiences within the boundaries of safety.'
He gave up training as a pianist to pursue his parallel interest in science, and worked for some years in the city, before returning to music, setting up the Fidelio Orchestra to stage easy-going concerts in attractive venues. It took a year to perfect the project's own premises in Clerkenwell Road. And now it's found a new purpose, reinvigorating live music in the capital.
Fidelio Café has music most nights of the week. Click here for more details
|What||Fidelio Unbound: live music and dinner|
|Where||Fidelio Orchestra Cafe, 91-95 Clerkenwell Rd, Holborn , London, EC1R 5BX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Farringdon (underground)|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|