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Jeremy Dixon

Interview

Jeremy Dixon reminisces about eight years of
performances at Kings Place, the building he
designed in 2008, with Amanda Holloway

How do you feel about the building today?
As far as the design and acoustic are concerned, I go back and I feel pretty pleased. My personal interest is in chamber music, so it has been a joy to create a hall that’s acoustically designed for that very thing. I come to a lot of concerts and I think the acoustic is terrific. A good chamber music hall has a degree of resonance that means the notes don’t die instantly, they just play out. It’s important not only that the audience hears well but also that the musicians can hear themselves and each other. What makes live performance so special is the way it brings together a complex mix of experiences – the acoustic, appearance and lighting, the music, the quality of players, and the mood of the audience.

Which concerts have you particularly enjoyed?
The anchor for me over the years has been the piano. I’m a late learner and I wouldn’t pretend to be a great pianist, but learning opens up your appreciation. So I was riveted by the recent Piano Festival curated by Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva. I like being immersed, I like going for a weekend of all the Beethoven quartets, for instance, and you get further and further into it. I always try and go to any concert by the Brodskys, such an interesting quartet. Violinist Thomas Gould is a fabulous, flexible musician. I’ve heard him play with the extraordinary Thirties quintet, Man Overboard, a delight, but you then hear him extemporising on Bach with Gwilym Simcock or leading an orchestra. And I adore masterclasses – hearing people working on things is such a good way to get into a piece of music. András Schiff’s recent masterclass with a quartet was fascinating.

‘I sit in the balcony, close to the stage. You get the most wonderful sound’

What have you earmarked on the Kings Place 2017 calendar?
I love the cello, particularly the unaccompanied cello, so I’m delighted Cello Unwrapped is coming up. I’m looking forward to hearing Christoph Richter playing Schumann. He played the unaccompanied Bach Suites and Sonatas in Bach Unwrapped in 2013. Something I’ve always said about hearing the cello in Hall One – you feel like you’re inside the instrument. I’ve noticed that some instruments get extra bloom in Hall One. I am a huge admirer of Imogen Cooper, and I’m looking  forward to hearing her play Beethoven Trios & Variations with Adrian Brendel and Henning Kraggerud in January. The programming at Kings Place spans so many different genres; I wish I had more courage to just come to things I don’t know about. It’s a golden opportunity to do it here.

As the architect, do you have a favourite seat in the hall?
Yes, it’s in the balcony, quite close to the stage, on the piano keyboard side (left). Up there you watch everything, like a bird, and you get the most wonderful sound.

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