The London Mozart Players (= LMP) is a British chamber orchestra founded in 1949. The LMP is the longest-established chamber orchestra in the UK whose performances and recordings focus largely on the core repertoire from the Classical era. Since 1989, the orchestra has been based at Fairfield Halls, Croydon.
The LMP was founded in 1949 by Harry Blech, a violinist who was beginning to turn his hand to conducting, who had been asked by pianist Dorothea Braus to form an orchestra with which she could play two Mozart piano concertos. The concert took place on February 11, 1949 at Wigmore Hall, London and the programme also included two Mozart symphonies, Nos. 28 in C and 29 in A. The concert was a success and Harry Blech realised that he had found an audience for the music he wanted to perform; that of Haydn, Mozart, L.v. Beethoven, Schubert and their contemporaries.
On 3 May 1951, the Royal Festival Hall was opened and the LMP was invited to perform as part of the Royal Festival Hall's opening week of concerts. The orchestra then switched its operation to the more appropriately-sized Queen Elizabeth Hall after its opening in 1967. In 1956, the LMP embarked on its first overseas tour to Italy by way of Amsterdam. During Blech's time as principal conductor, the orchestra made many commercial recordings and was also regularly broadcast on the Third Programme and its successor, BBC Radio 3.
Jane Glover became Harry Blech's successor in 1984 and introduced much new repertoire to the LMP concert programmes as well as appointing Howard Shelley and Andrew Parrott as Associate Conductors. The most significant development of Jane Glover's time with the orchestra was the LMP's move to Croydon in 1989, to become Resident Orchestra of the London Borough of Croydon and of Fairfield Halls. This followed a successful series of concerts at Fairfield in 1988, supported by Greater London Arts, which had shown a strong potential following for the orchestra in the Borough, and also demonstrated the excellence of Fairfield's acoustics for the LMP's repertoire. Croydon Council and Nestlé, whose UK headquarters are opposite Fairfield, were approached for support, and a unique tripartite alliance was formed, between local authority, private sector sponsor and arts organisation.
With Glover the LMP made a number of television broadcasts and during Mozart's bicentennial year in 1991, performed Mozart's/ Requiem in St Paul's Cathedral which was televised live and timed to finish to the exact minute of the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death. This performance was attended by The Princess of Wales and The Prince Edward, who had become the orchestra's Patron in 1990 and who has since actively supported the orchestra at concerts in the UK and on tours abroad, as well as assisting with the orchestra's fundraising activities. With Glover, Thomas Bowes led the ensemble at their BBC Proms debut in 1991.
In 1992, Swiss conductor Matthias Bamert became principal conductor of the LMP and during his time, produced a considerable body of recording with Chandos Records (which continues to this day). In April 1996, the LMP made their début in the Musikverein concert hall in Vienna .
Working alongside Matthias Bamert was the conductor and pianist Howard Shelley, who was Associate Conductor and Principal Guest Conductor with the LMP from 1990 to 1998. Howard Shelley has performed as both conductor and soloist/director with the orchestra and continues to make several appearances with the LMP every year. In 1999, flautist Sir James Galway succeeded Howard Shelley as Principal Guest Conductor. Like Shelley, Galway has often combined the dual roles of conductor and soloist and has also worked with the orchestra on several recordings.
In September 2000, British conductor Andrew Parrott was appointed Music Director, a position which he held until 2006. A specialist in the LMP's core repertoire, and also a renowned choral and opera conductor, Andrew Parrott has broadened the scope of the orchestra's work, introducing some early Romantic symphonies as well as more vocal and choral music.
On October 22, 2009, the LMP announced the appointment of South African conductor Gérard Korsten as Music Director Designate who will assume the role at the start of the LMP's 2010-2011 concert season.
As well as Fairfield Halls, the LMP is resident at The Anvil, Basingstoke, Turner Sims Concert Hall, Southampton and in the South Holland and East Lindsey districts of Lincolnshire.