9:00am Friday 9th November 2012
By Andrew Bloss
Fairfield Halls was celebrated as the jewel in Croydon's Arts crown as it celebrated its 50 year anniversary.
A string of classical performances, old and new, and the presence of Prince Edward who is the patron of the London Mozart Players, made sure it was a night to remember on a special day for the theatre on Friday.
Performances from The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and a production of the 1960s comedy Billy Liar make up the rest of the anniversary celebrations.
Simon Thomsett, the chief executive of the Fairfield Halls, said it was a night to recognise the importance of the Fairfield Halls in Croydon and the vital role it plays in promoting the arts in the borough.
He also praised Croydon Council for the support it had given the theatre amid spending cuts during the economic downturn.
Mr Thomsett said he felt the evening would be a turning point in the direction of the theatre.
He said: "The atmosphere was just wonderful. It was a really uplifting celebration. It was great that so many people came and joined us.
"It is something to build on. We have had some tough times but it is a huge institution. We have got the funding now though and we have real hope for the future.
"We have to keep working hard though but Friday seemed like a good turning point.
"The Halls needs to start believing in itself. We need to start trumpeting its greatness and people need to realise that there is a thriving cultural scene and people want to come here and enjoy the best of performing arts.
"The more we can draw in, the more attractive it becomes. We have an uphill battle to convince the rest of the world that Croydon is a centre for excellence and why shouldn’t it be? In fact it is. You could see that from the performances last week."
The evening, attended by more than 1,000 people, began with the world premiere of Fairfield Fanfare, a birthday piece written for the occasion by Roxanna Panufnik, who is the London Mozart Player’s associate composer.
Work from Croydon composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor was also performed along with Malcolm Arnold’s The Fair Field, which was commissioned in 1972 to honour the venue’s tenth anniversary.
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