1 May, 1 May… ah yes! 1st May 2005. That was the date that, as a naive undergraduate, I officially incorporated my own music company, funded with a prize from Deutsche Bank.
First as Court Lane, now as a semi-nameless entity that supports Fifth Quadrant, SHJ, London Violin Studio, Music and the City, Classical Revolution London, Road to Jericho, and various other projects that have come and gone. For whatever reason, I thought it would be the most secure route to artistic freedom, and I still do.
Somehow – I don’t quite know how, as it has been a long and winding road – it seems still to be trading and indeed growing. I’m still probably doing a lot wrong, indeed it took me the best part of five years to understand that financial and artistic value has zero tangible relationship except in exceptional circumstances, but I’m as convinced as ever that the core idea is fundamentally right.
Indeed, the whole philosophy – putting the great traditions of classical and contemporary classical music into a more contemporary, relevant context – has never wavered. And even through difficult times, sticking to that clear vision has helped realise some real change.
The next step is very real-world; I’m expanding London Violin Studio into a proper school and research centre, based next to Buckingham Palace in the heart of London’s Westminster. Today, I open two dedicated violin rooms in a location that I hope is something of a statement – I want to encourage culture and the arts to develop and thrive at the heart of the UK government and royal district. I was thrilled to see that there are several organisations doing the same – opposite the new school, in the same street, there is a THEATRE under construction. Yes, really! St James’s Theatre, the first new theatre in London in 30 years, which is being built upon the site of the old Westminster Theatre of 300 years ago, and will open in the Autumn. It’s an undeniably exciting place to be.
And indeed there’s everything to play for. I think that cultural values – as often articulated by the arts – totally belong at the heart of a society, because of the positive influence they have on other aspects of social development. England and the UK enjoy possibly one of the greatest heritages in the world (culturally at least; our international legacy is not so rosy in other areas, as I remember each time I visit a foreign country and find a plaque commemorating the destruction of the area by people based out of Whitehall…). Is that reputation fully justified right now? Is it reflected by the way the institutions that control our society operate? I’m not entirely sure. But I think it should be.