Erland Cooper

Erland Cooper brings the Orkney Isles to Walthamstow with soaring Solan Goose

We were delighted to welcome Erland Cooper to Walthamstow Assembly Hall earlier this month to shoot the latest video for his stunning new album, inspired by his home on the Orkney Islands.

Read the full story and view the premiere of the live version of ‘Cattie-Face’ at The Quietus.

Renowned for its outstanding acoustics, Walthamstow Assembly Hall was complete in 1943 as part of the stunning Waltham Forest Town Hall complex. The Hall hosted classical music concerts, operas and ballets as the bombs fell and has a rich recording history. Some of the first stereo recordings were completed at the hall in 1958.

Artists to record and perform at the Hall include Benjamin Britten who recorded his masterpiece Peter Grimes, Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story, On the Waterfront), Julie Andrews (Sound of Music, Mary Poppins), The Rolling Stones and the Sex Pistols.

Erland and a small ensemble filled the Hall with a soaring sound evoking the open skies and bird life of Orkney – and if that’s not enough, a short trip down Forest Road and you can be in your very own Orkney at Walthamstow Wetlands. Don’t forget your headphones…

The film was shot and edited by Alex Kozobolis and the music recorded live, captured by Realworlds’ Oli Jacobs. 

Director, photography & edit - Alex Kozobolis
Sound engineer - Oli Jacobs
Mixed by - Oli Jacobs at Realworld Studio
Hardanger Violin, Bowed Glockenspiel,
Soprano - Charlotte Greenhow First
Violin - Anna Pheobe
Viola - Jacob Downs 

Lifted from the debut album 'Solan Goose' by Erland Cooper. Out now. https://erlandcooper.lnk.to/SolanGoose

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The Kalamazoo Gals

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Author John Thomas brings his story of extraordinary women and Gibson’s Banner guitars to WAH17 and asks was Walthamstow Assembly Hall also built by women during the War?

During the years of World War Two, manufacture of the Gibson Banner Guitar was carried out almost exclusively by women, which it is argued gave the highly collectable wartime guitar a unique sound. ‘Kalamazoo Gals’ is the story of the brilliant women who made the guitars.

Author and co-founder of The Buddy Holly Foundation John Thomas showcased the guitar at Walthamstow Assembly Hall as a prelude to the Nighthawks Swing Dance event.

This performance dovetails with current research into Walthamstow Assembly Hall itself, which is renowned for its magical acoustics. Also built during the war –“bombs were falling all around but the music was divine” – was the hall built by women?

In 1944 25,000 women were working in construction. Now a campaign, backed by the Women’s Engineering Society has triggered a hunt to find other civic examples, such as Waterloo Bridge, to which women have contributed without acknowledgement.

Nighthawks and WAH17 invited the audience to sample the delights of this beautiful venue and its reputedly unique acoustic.

Follow the story @forestvenues

Lake Of Stars

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One of Africa’s leading music and arts festivals Lake of Stars celebrated their fifteenth anniversary with a festival in London culminating in an evening concert at WAH17

Lake of Stars at WAH17 brought music back to one of London’s finest music venues this March!

The sell out event was Walthamstow’s hottest ticket – and everyone in the hall was dancing! 

Headliners included Scottish indie-rock band Frightened Rabbit, award-winning Ghanaian hip-hop artist Manifest, Malawian singer-songwriter Faith Mussa, and Wezi from Zambia!

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“Having kick-started Malawi’s festival industry” said Festival Founder Will Jameson “we are taking things full circle by further developing platforms for African artists in the UK, which is why we are excited to be working with Waltham Forest Council to host our London-based events in such a vibrant borough which is bidding to become the first London Borough of Culture in 2019.”

“Walthamstow is experiencing a creative regeneration we want to help grow. Both Hoe Street and Wood Street are changing rapidly, with great venues, street art and a diverse community. LOS London will boost awareness of the area, engage local artists and contribute to the economy,”

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Cllr Ahsan Khan, Cabinet Member for Libraries Arts and Culture at Waltham Forest Council, said: “We are delighted to host Lake of Stars’ 2018 London event and to encourage such fantastic links between musicians in the UK and Africa. The festival will be one of the opening events of our new arts and live music programme at the Walthamstow Assembly Hall, which once hosted the likes of The Rolling Stones, Ronnie Scott and Eileen Joyce.”

Known for hosting a festival on the beautiful shores of the Lake Malawi in Africa, the Lake of Stars project has run events and festivals in UK and Africa since 2003, showcasing artists from Malawi, across Africa and around the world. The festival has generated an estimated £1.3 million for Malawi’s economy each year and receives extensive global press coverage from the Guardian, BBC, CNN and more.

Stay tuned for more from Lake of Stars!

A Brief Encounter

 Image © Tully Potter Collection

Image © Tully Potter Collection

Brief Encounter Piano legend Eileen Joyce’s dazzling 1946 WAH17 performance unearthed by Decca in time for Valentine’s Day

Listen to the clip available for the first time on Decca Sound: The Piano Edition.

Australian pianist Eileen Joyce is famous for playing the devastating Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No 2 which features in Brief Encounter – voted the most romantic film of all time and the nation’s favourite piece of classical music.

At the height of her fame, Joyce recorded soundtracks for and appeared on screen in a series of 1940s films, enjoying enormous critical acclaim and popularity performing to euphoric audiences after the declaration of peace in Europe. Joyce performed at Walthamstow Assembly Hall (WAH17) in 1945 during the bombing raids on London. She returned in 1946, the year Brief Encounter was released to record at the Hall.

Decca, who had enticed her away from Columbia, had recorded her famous Rachmaninoff interpretation at the Riverside Film Studios in Hammersmith – it was something of a coup for Decca to lure her to the label and now they were embarking on a special relationship with WAH17 where they had found a very special acoustic. Decca were to go on to record some of the first stereo recordings at the hall.

However the recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 2 was never to see the light of day. Notorious perfectionist and marathon performer – playing as many as four concertos in a single evening – Joyce was to suffer from a nervous breakdown in 1953. When asked what she thought of her debut Decca performance Joyce had replied “Don’t be silly”, implying no performer was ever entirely happy with their own performance, especially those ‘preserved’ forever on record.

Decca did not issue Joyce’s 1946 WAH17 performance, giving unspecified technical faults as their reason but it is likely she pulled the plug because she was dissatisfied with her performance. Independent judges who have heard the test pressings cannot detect any ‘technical faults’. In terms of audio quality, the recording is perhaps one of the most impressive things to emerge from Decca in the 1940s. And indeed the performance is outstanding. For Philip Fowke, Joyce’s performance of the concerto is “one of the finest I have heard; a performance of sparkle, passion and bravura.”

Until now, posterity has been robbed of this recording. But now it has been unearthed and made available by Decca on a stunning box set The Piano Edition, along with other outstanding performances from WAH17 aficionados including Dinu Lippatti.

WAH17 is renowned for its outstanding acoustics. Walthamstow Assembly Hall was completed in 1943 as part of the beautiful Waltham Forest Town Hall complex, hosting classical music concerts, operas and ballets as the bombs fell. With its stunning gold doors and William Morris quote “Fellowship is Life and the Lack of Fellowship is Death” emblazoned across the front – it was a beacon of hope.

Other names to record and perform at the Hall include Benjamin Britten who recorded his masterpiece Peter Grimes at the hall, Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story, On the Waterfront), Julie Andrews (Sound of Music, Mary Poppins), The Rolling Stones and the Sex Pistols.

Winter Wonderland

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This Christmas WAH17 was transformed into a giant snow globe for a very special Sing-a-Long screening of Disney’s Frozen

The grand Art-Deco glass fronted entrance to WAH17 was transformed into a magical snow-globe and audiences were invited to try out

the magical acoustics for themselves! In a space which has even hosted the likes of Julie Andrews aka Mary Poppins herself…

We were joined by the marvellous Forest Philharmonic. What a way to start the xmas holidays!

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WAH17 has been home to Forest Philharmonic Orchestra since its first full season 1964-65.

Under the direction of Artistic Director Mark Shanahan, the Forest Philharmonic Orchestra has gained an impressive reputation for the high quality and vitality of its performances,

and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014/15.

Stay tuned for further news on screenings and events. And visit the Forest Philharmonic’s website for their annual programme of concerts at the Hall.

Nao & Science of Sound

Ford asked 3 international artists to create tracks that explore the Science of Sound, demonstrating how music enhances the driving experience. The rising star of soul NAO recounts her experiences listening to music growing up, and takes us through her creative process making her brand new track 'Nostalgia'. With a video recorded at WAH17

Find out more about the Science of Sound here, (https://partners.vice.com/ford-scienc...) All-New Ford Fiesta here, (https://www.ford.co.uk/cars/new-fiesta) and B&O PLAY Sound System here. (https://www.ford.co.uk/cars/new-fiest...)