Warwick’s classical music hub loss

Benyounes Quartet
Benyounes Quartet

The director of the Leamington Festival is hoping the closure of a Warwick theatre will not cost him some of the classical music audiences he has built up over the past 11 years.

The Bridge House Theatre in the grounds of Warwick School will be closed for community events for at least the next two years, because it is needed for the drama department.

Richard Phillips

Richard Phillips

This is due to major redevelopment of the school’s Guy Nelson Hall which is likely to take at least two years. It means the Bridge House Thestre is no longer unavailable for this season’s Music In The Round series - due to start this month - and the nearby Guy Nelson Hall will no longer be home to the Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra.

Classical concerts were staged at the Bridge House as well the annual pantomime, which had to be cancelled this year, and it was a major venue for the Warwick Words festival and for some acts during Warwick Folk Festival.

Richard Phillips admits: “This is our 12th season of Music In The Round series and the closure of the Bridge House has presented us with a real challenge.

“We will now be using three different venues between January and March starting with the award-winning Benyounes String Quartet playing in the Pump Room in Leamington on January 18.

“Our other venues will be the Royal Spa Centre in Leamington and St Mary’s Church in Warwick.

“These are venues we have used before but we will certainly miss the Bridge House and just hope the audiences we have built up over such a long period, remain with us.”

Drama staff at independent Warwick School have explained that with the Guy Nelson Hall out of action for two years, the Bridge House is now needed for students.

But the twin loss of both venues to the wider community will have a knock-on effect.

Helen Meeke, director of the Warwick Words festival, is already scouting round for suitable places to invite authors in October.

She said: “It’s a great shame to lose the Bridge House as the school’s technical staff were superb.”

Malcolm Rowson, chairman of the 100-strong Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra, is also sorry about the loss of their performance and rehearsal space in the hall.

Mr Rowson said: “We no longer have a base and will only be able to return to the Guy Nelson Hall if we can afford it after the redevelopment. The Bridge House is also a real loss to the community.

“It means our next local concerts will be at North Leamington School in March and then we will perform in St Mary’s at Warwick and the Spa Centre later in the year.”