St James’s Church and Vivaldi by Candlelight

Tuesday 25 November 2014 by

Due to a rough commute, it’s actually very rare that I get to go out and about in London on a weeknight. But last Friday, I schlepped my way across town to Piccadilly for a magical evening of candlelight and classical music.

Even a Scrooge like me finds it hard to be downbeat about Christmas when Piccadilly is glittering in Christmas lights and the windows are shimmering with goodies. But with only a short amount of time between arriving and the concert, we dashed in to Cha Cha Moon on Ganton Street for noodles and cocktails. I had the rather delicious red duck curry (all of their rice dishes are gluten free!) and a sweet Wen Wen cocktail (peach, raspberry and vodka) to soothe the spice. I was impressed by the quality of Cha Cha Moon – the service was quick, the prices were reasonable for central London, and the food was tasty. With its long tables and benches and promise of all-natural, all-good-for-you ingredients, it reminded me a lot of Wagamama, but without the crowds!

St James's Church, Piccadilly, Vivaldi, Classic music, November, Christmas, Candlelight

Then it was a quick trip around the corner to St James’s Church for an evening of live classical music.

St James’s, if you’ve never come across it, is a delightful little church set back from the road in a courtyard (filled up with Christmas market stalls at this time of year), and puts on little-known-about events – including an evening listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, all by candlelight. Ana had discovered it when visiting to watch a friend sing, and managed to get us “restricted view” tickets for £15 each. For a centre aisle seat, you would have had to cough up around £45, but our little nook to one side was perfect.

St James's Church, Piccadilly, Vivaldi, Classic music, November, Christmas, Candlelight

The church was warm and welcoming, lit by hundreds of candles. Even the sounds from outside faded. Our view, admittedly, was very restricted, and I was limited to seeing just a fraction of the whole thing, but with the lights out and the candles flickering (bar just a couple of spotlights, it was total darkness), you didn’t miss the view at all. The music soared to the rafters, with wave after wave of baroque. A particular highlight was the haunting rendition of Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion, a Bach-inspired tango piece. The whole thing – from Bach to Vivaldi’s Winter – was just two hours long, but it felt like it went by in a flash, and I could have stayed there all night.

It was a perfect way to spend a Friday night; in good company, with good food and even better music. And with the promise of carol services, I expect I may be back to St James’s before Christmas!

St James’s Church on Piccadilly puts on several evening concerts for varying prices – you can see a full list here

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