London’s Fairfield Halls returns fleet of Phoenix Pianos2:54, 29th July 2020
Fairfield Halls in Croydon has returned its fleet of nine Phoenix Pianos after venue operator BH Live ran into financial difficulties.
The Halls reopened in September 2019 following a three-year refurbishment costing £43 million. Hopes for the venue were high but initial ticket sales flopped, prompting artistic director Neil Chandler to resign in February 2020. His successor has yet to be announced.
Phoenix was first notified of Fairfield’s decision to return their instruments in March, when all UK performance venues suffered forced closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A settlement was subsequently reached for termination of Phoenix Pianos’ five-year hire agreement with BH Live.
A Phoenix Pianos spokesperson told International Piano: ‘All parties of course regret that this exciting project has fallen victim to COVID-19, but discussion between Phoenix and interested parties, other than BH Live, continues for post-COVID activity at Fairfield Halls.’
Phoenix confirmed that at least three of the instruments from Fairfield have ‘already been snapped up at other prestigious event centres’. Two pianos have gone to Finchcocks, the historic manor house in Kent that hosts residential piano courses. Another has been moved to The Umbrella Rooms, a central London studio that specialises in video recordings for musicians of all genres.
One of the concert grands will be installed in a new facility at the Kent workshop where Phoenix instruments are manufactured. This, said the company’s spokesperson, will ‘enable professional and student pianists to perform by online streaming, while live performance is impractical’.