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YOUR NEWS – Croydon in Chaos

YOUR NEWS – Croydon in Chaos

Covid-19 closure, staff resignations and council bankruptcy leave future of refurbished Fairfield Halls hanging in the balance.

If the Fairfield Halls only had to deal with the trifling matter of the global pandemic, things might not be so bad, but the whole of Croydon is now in a state of desperation.

To say the town’s arts venue has had a rocky ride since its controversial closure in 2016 and subsequent reopening, 15 months behind schedule and £11m overbudget, in 2019 is something of an understatement.

Firstly, the venue’s artistic director, Neil Chandler, resigned just six months after the Fairfield’s gala reopening in the presence of Dame Judi Dench and London Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

With figures revealing that the reopened venue only achieved 26% occupancy within its first three months, it wasn’t surprising that Chandler and BH Live (Fairfield Halls’ operator) parted company.

The quality of the refurbishment was first called into question when the original 60s seating (unrepaired) was reinstalled rather than expected new seating. BH Live had raised these and other concerns over the handling of the refurbishment and the associated soaring costs.

This summer it was announced that Fairfield Halls wouldn’t be opening before 2021 after closing its doors in March as a result of Coronavirus. This meant that the venue was only open for six months following the high-profile reopening.

The result is that the jobs of thirty-two members of staff, being funded by Croydon Council, were in danger of facing very real redundancy. And now the council has effectively gone bust.

On 12 November, Croydon Council’s finance director, Lisa Taylor, filed a section 114 notice which freezes all non-essential spending. The council has run up debts of £1.5b, the highest of any London borough. There have been a number of calls from critics citing an ‘irresponsible’ attitude to finances by the town’s Labour council.

Where this all leaves Fairfield Halls is anybody’s guess but, according to reports, it is “…highly likely that BH Live will hand back the keys to Croydon Council and walk away.”

This is something that ought to be illegal until you discover that nobody at Croydon Council actually made sure that BH Live signed the lease in the first place!

Croydon is (or was) due to become London Borough of Culture in 2023.




The Yamaha Music Foundation’s flagship music education course for young children has been launched for the very first time in London on.

The school is based at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls, which re-opened in September following a multi-million pound Croydon restoration.

The Yamaha Music School is just one of several initiatives at Fairfield Halls, designed to engage, inspire and educate young people in the local community and further afield.

Established in Tokyo in 1954, the Yamaha Music Foundation offers a global music education programme, in over forty-five countries. More than five million children have learned music through it and it is the most trusted and proven early years music education in Japan. The Junior Music Course, for children aged four or five years old at the start, has been in the UK for nearly forty years. Well-attended schools are in locations such as Milford, Abingdon, Burton, Tamworth, Derby and Nottingham.

Fred Scott, BH Live’s Artistic Associate for Music Education at Fairfield Halls said, “With the launch in South London, our music education programme looks set to enter centre-stage. And justifiably so: Yamaha is known for quality, and this does not just apply to the products on offer, but also to its music education programmes and staff: teachers must go through a rigorous audition, training and qualification system.”

The Junior Music Course curriculum is one of ‘timely education’. The carefully researched programme comprises four two-year courses, designed with teaching approaches that evolve to suit the children as they develop. Lessons are comprehensive: they include singing, playing, listening, moving, reading and writing and make full musical use of the group format for the entire course pathway. Parents accompany children for the first two years to group lessons, which include up to ten students in a class. Individual piano lessons are added to the curriculum after the first few years.

Nigel Burrows, Yamaha Music Education Manager for the UK says: “In over forty years of being involved with Yamaha Music Schools, I have yet to see another programme that can produce such consistently high levels of creativity with such young students.”

Talented Yamaha students from around the world come together each year to showcase their own compositions, highlighting the musical goals of the programme: to be creative and expressive musicians, with a lifelong love for music – whether students go on later to be professional or amateur.

Families can apply to Fred Scott for info about places and course details:

The Review – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Trinity Drama Productions)

The Review – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Trinity Drama Productions)

Production: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Author/s: Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics by Tim Rice
Society/company: Trinity Drama Productions
Director: Chris Chambers
Choreography: Amy Nicolls
Designer: Tara Usher
Performance date: 6th December 2019
Venue: Trinity Concert Hall, Trinity School, Shirley Park, Croydon, Surrey CR9 7AT
Reviewer: Paul Johnson

As a policy, we don’t star-rate non-professional productions but, if we did, I would have to give this school production of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice’s timeless musical, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat a maximum five stars!

Before we all get carried away, such a full house score wouldn’t be given for the most flawless and professional performance in this musical’s history (I’m sure Bill Kenwright’s professional touring production and last summer’s big-budget, sell-out run at the Palladium would have something to say about that) – although there are a number of high-end elements to this show. But for sheer bravery, team spirit, ambition, enjoyment, audience reception, commitment, attitude and downright entertainment, I cannot fault Trinity Drama Productions’ latest show in the London suburb of Croydon.

The school is extremely lucky to have two pivotal members of staff; Director, and Head of Drama, (Mr) Chris Chambers, and the show’s MD, Head of Academic Music, (Mr) Richard Holdsworth. Through this inspired pairing you can see exactly why everything that happens onstage – well, happens. For a start, the high-quality musical production – which takes place every two years – sells out every time. This enables the production to hire its lighting equipment from professional specialists, White Light, as well as sound equipment (radio-mics etc.) from Orbital. After that it’s down to the pupils to get their hands dirty, including a couple of Year Seven boys (aged 11) to fit the principals with their microphones, plus another young pupil, Amir Shivdasani, brilliantly live-cueing the multiple vocal levels (putting many other productions I’ve seen to shame). But that’s not all… of the eighteen-piece orchestra, a whopping sixteen are pupils too. Together, under Mr Holdsworth’s baton, they make an expert and well-balanced accompaniment to the fifty-odd stage performances.


Chris Chambers, who also runs a professional adult theatre company, has done wonders to bring the show to life and his infectious positive attitude is not in doubt. Trinity is mixed-gender in its sixth form, and the decision to feature a two-girl ‘Narrator’ works well, especially for such a tricky role. Elsewhere, performances are mixed in quality but, as the second of two Josephs, Lucas Pinto, has firmly stamped his credentials on the title role. Lucas is handed the part from Tom Willmer after Joseph’s brothers sell him to a group of passing Egyptians. Pinto’s stand-alone number, Close Every Door, is well-delivered and equally well-received.

For sheer nerve Will Gao Hardy arguably takes the show’s top prize as Elvis-impersonator, Pharaoh the King as one of the big highlights of act II (and arguably the entire show). Such is his level of confidence, he even has the bravado to ‘come down into the audience’ mid-performance and woo certain members of the on-looking crowd. If he’s this good at such a young age, we can only hope Gao Hardy wants to go all the way.

In such a young a large company it’s a statistical certainty that one or two will end up in the West End. In addition to some very bright futures for one or two members of the orchestra, I predict that the faultless Elaine Jones (Narrator), as well as the aforementioned Lucas Pinto and Will Gao Hardy could carve healthy futures for themselves onstage should they wish to do so. I’ll even add one of the non-principals to this trio; Dance Captain Stephanie Joubanian shows a great deal of natural ability and should be very proud of her performance too – another big part of the show’s success.

Amateur theatre is absolutely the cornerstone of this country’s performing arts and it’s at this age that people first catch the performing (or backstage, sound, lighting) bug. And long may it continue!

Read this and other reviews at

Piano Academy in Croydon (Your News)

Piano Academy in Croydon (Your News)

The Phoenix Piano Academy will launch at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls, a world-renowned performing arts venue with a world-class music offer on site, from April 2020.

Charitable social enterprise and venue operator BH Live has an inspiring commitment to music education, leading to the formation of the Academy, which is aimed at advanced level young pianists up to the age of eighteen and beyond Grade Six level. It is staffed by an impressive team of tutors widely experienced as performers and teachers. Students will have the unique opportunity to perform with resident orchestra, the London Mozart Players.

Students will enjoy the use of Phoenix Pianos which have been installed throughout Fairfield Halls and who are sponsors of the Academy. Phoenix Pianos are a British company that pride themselves on leading the piano manufacture industry with new, high-end piano technologies.

The Phoenix Piano Academy is led by Fred Scott who trained at the Royal Academy of Music. His performing and teaching career has spanned nearly four decades during which time many of his students have achieved success in their own musical and academic pursuits winning awards, prizes and places at prestigious schools, conservatories, universities and performing at the Royal Opera House, Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Barbican and Fairfield Halls itself.

Fred is extremely passionate about developing skills in music and said, “We’ve all seen the reports that learning a musical instrument has great benefits. Over the years I’ve seen the potential of a great diversity of students enhanced by music. Physical and emotional well-being, creativity, analytical skills and problem solving are transferable to so many other study and work fields. Music makes life better!”

In addition to the Phoenix Piano Academy, the following opportunities will be offered:

  • Beginners (Phoenix Juniors)
  • Adults (Phoenix Masters)
  • Jazz (Phoenix Jazz)
  • A group session for adult beginners is planned for those parents and carers wishing to support their child’s learning.


To apply to the Phoenix Piano Academy, contact Fred Scott: |