Philippa Mo, violinist extraordinaire, comes to the final concert in her series of ten at Shortwave Café, a series that drew in audiences from the Biscuit Factory’s wall climbing club, exhibiting artists at Shortwave, young music students wanting to hear instruments played up close and, of course, those that appreciate classical music played well, writes Michael Holland.

The concerts have been a huge hit because Philippa attracted guest artists to play alongside her from all around the world. I asked how she got so many big names to Bermondsey: ‘I am unbelievably lucky to get to work regularly with artists who are worldwide leaders in their instrumental and vocal fields in various chamber music projects.  I invited them and they were as excited by the chance to plan their own programmes as to experiment with duos (me on violin) – we had a lot of fun discussing exactly what to play. I think they have all enjoyed contributing to a series with musicians that any concert hall in the world would have been proud to promote.’

Philippa was keen to say how much the guest musicians enjoyed playing here too: ‘They all commented on the atmosphere – the intimacy with the audience and the acoustics – which are really great in Shortwave! They liked knowing the audience were comfortable and they all liked chatting beforehand and in the interval  – I think they found it a relaxing place to play because we got rid of some of the stiff formality sometimes associated with classical concerts.’

Ms Mo talks of the highlights of her concerts, one being the chance to hear the calibre of the players that came to perform. She also adds, ‘I feel like I gave something of me to the local area, sharing what I can do and what I love best – which feels  incredibly important.’ And being local herself, she also found joy in having to travel just one stop on the tube to get to a show, which is vastly different from the 24 hour flight to her Australian concerts in the summer!

When this series ends, Philippa will prepare for a busy 2019 that will find her playing around the UK and Europe, while seeking venues to put on nights like those she has created at Shortwave Café. 

She spoke of a local song she has heard, Nobody Likes Us But We Don’t Care, and said, ‘I like Bermondsey and Bermondsey people, as do the guest artists and composers who came – And it is why I live here.’

British countertenor William Towers is Philippa’s last guest.

Philippa Mo at Shortwave Café, 100 Clements Road, Bermondsey, SE16 4DG. Time: December 18th, 7.45pm. Admission: £10.

Photos: Gullwing Photography