On Friday evening I was delighted to attend the launch of an exciting new venture, the South London Concert Series at the 1901 Arts Club. The brainchild of the indefatigable duo, Lorraine Liyanage and Frances Wilson, this series developed out of the London Piano Meetup Group, which they co-host. Lorraine and Frances are both passionate advocates of amateur pianism, and wanted to give adult amateur pianists the opportunity to perform in a formal concert setting on a concert instrument (a Steinway C).

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What makes this series different and original is the idea to give young and emerging professional artists exposure and support as they embark on a performing career by placing professionals and amateurs in the same concert. The first guest recitalist was Helen Burford, a Brighton-based pianist with a keen interest in contemporary British and American repertoire and an unerring ability to create exciting programmes with unusual musical juxtapositions. Helen’s beautifully presented programme began with Chick Corea’s Three Piano Improvisations followed by Incarnation II by Japanese composer Somei Satoh, a single Scarlatti sonata, Martin Butler’s Rumba Machine, ending with David Rakowski’s Etude: A Gliss is Just a Gliss. The excellent supporting players were Mark Zarb-Adami, Emma Heseltine, Susan Pickerill and Daniel Roberts.

The concert was short (about an hour) and the music varied and unusual – what made this really special was the format, repertoire and the most lovely, intimate venue a stone’s throw from Waterloo station. Afterwards, there was the opportunity to meet the performers and socialise with other music lovers over a glass of bubbly in the upstairs bar and sitting room.

The first SLCS concert of 2014 with Emmanuel Vass is already sold out. Further concerts take place in March, May, July and September. Full details of upcoming events are on the SLCS website. Visit the dedicated Facebook page for more content, including photographs and soundclips, and follow SLCS on Twitter – @SLConcerts.

I wish the SLCS the very best of luck, and congratulate the players and the organisers for the huge amount of effort that went into making this launch concert the success it was. I look forward very much to more!