World-class chamber music, right here in Herts
There’s something deliciously intimate about the CHROMA concerts in the Greene Room upstairs at Berkhamsted’s Kings Arms. It’s chamber music as you sort of imagine it began – a small ensemble, lit by lamps and candlelight, with the audience seated all around them. It’s actually quite magical. And even more so when you reflect on the calibre of musicians you’re getting up close to.
Seriously, the CHROMA ensemble has a collective musical pedigree that defies easy or concise description – awards, performances, orchestras, concert halls, teaching, composing, commissioning, the lot. And you’re right there, watching them perform right there in front of you instead of squinting at them over the footlights up at them on a distant stage.
I took my eldest along to their ‘Spring Celebration’ concert, and yes, he was the youngest in the room by a long shot, but the varied programme and the combination of instrumental pieces, songs and spoken word kept his attention beautifully. He loved, in particular, the story by Tove Jansson – yes, her of the Moomins – and the final piece, the stunning ‘Primavera Portena’ by Astor Piazzolla.
CHROMA has more members than you can shake a stick – or perhaps a bow – at, and you don’t get them all every time. The Spring concert, we listened to Marcus Barcham-Stevens on violin, Vanesssa McNaught on viola, and Clare O’Connell on cello – and they were joined by tenor Simon Davies, from the chorus at the Royal Opera House. Next time, in June, it’ll be violin, clarinet, harp and cello – and the programme sounds equally lovely.
I’m just so struck by the fact that we have these world-class musicians performing right here in Herts, and in such an intimate setting. It was a brilliant introduction to chamber music for my eldest, and a reminder to me of how lovely it is to hear massively talented musicians doing the thing they so clearly love to do. Full-price tickets are just £15, too, and you know you’d pay massively more than that to see them in a big-city venue.
Even if you don’t really think chamber music is your thing, I’d absolutely recommend giving a CHROMA concert in the Greene Room a go. Sitting there with a glass of wine, watching the candles flicker, and listening to such amazing musicians – well, it was pretty much perfect for a Sunday evening.