Last Wight of the Proms

Chiswick Proms Return For Summer Series

Already establishing itself as one of the ‘must-do’ events in London this summer, the Chiswick Proms launches on 7-9 June at Chiswick House & Gardens

The three-day open-air festival comprises ‘Chiswick Does Comedy’ on the Friday night, starring comedy legends Jason Manford and Shappi Khorsandi, ‘Chiswick at the Musicals’ on the Saturday night, starring Leading Lady Ruthie Henshall and a host of West End stars, and ‘Last Night of the Chiswick Proms’ on the Sunday, starring Britain’s most cherished soprano Lesley Garrett and the Chiswick Proms Concert Orchestra.

There will also be a family show on Saturday afternoon where children go free. The perennial favourite by Sergei Prokofiev ‘Peter & the Wolf’ helps children to enjoy the experience of going to a concert by making it fun and entertaining. Plus Chiswick resident Clare Balding will be making an appearance to talk about the latest book in her Racehorse Book Series and signing copies.

The Chiswick Proms will also be offering an exciting line-up of free arts workshops for hundreds of people (mainly children and young adults), who will have fully-immersive involvement in the arts in ways that they would not otherwise ever experience and all of them are completely free to take part in. Workshops include comedy in association with Chiswick’s very own School of Comedy, drumming and percussion (STOMP-style and samba), opera in association with world-renowned Opera Holland Park, and musical theatre in association with Chiswick’s own ArtsEd, where the participants will learn a song and routine from a West End show, and then perform it among West End stars at ‘Chiswick at the Musicals’ on the Saturday night.

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Mike Christie of Amick Productions tells us about his upcoming event at Chiswick House: the Chiswick Proms.

Mike tell us about your background and why you started Amick Productions?

I’m first and foremost a singer, having sung professionally since the age of 8 when I was a chorister, during which time I appeared in the choirs in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral. I then went to study classical singing and piano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. It was at this time I formed vocal harmony group G4 (hence the ‘G’) and we decided to enter the very first series of The X Factor in 2004, as it was the first show of its type to accept groups rather than just solo artistes. We entered for a laugh and ended up in the live Grand Final and become Runners-Up from 50,000 entrants! We then went on to sell over 2 million albums in the UK and still tour today, with a big Christmas tour planned later this year in cathedrals and iconic venues such as the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

I’ve always loved creating and organising live events and concerts, and so it was a natural progression to make that official and set up my own company Amick Productions. Our latest venture is the Chiswick Proms, but we’re doing a whole range of things, and this variety I think is key to making each event as good as it possibly can be.

I have performed at the Hyde Park ‘Proms in the Park’ and for the past three years running at Opera Holland Park, which is just around the corner from Chiswick, and I have also created and launched the inaugural Wight Proms last summer, which returns to Northwood House on the Isle of Wight this August.

I really feel that being a performer helps me when I put my producer hat on and create live events. I am able to see it from the artistes’ point of view, which I feel gives me an added depth of knowledge; something that is very useful when creating such complicated, big-scale projects. Also, as a young singer, I was fortunate to have many performing opportunities, and to be surrounded by inspirational people who encouraged me to follow my dreams. Now I want to be able to give something back, so as part of the Chiswick Proms, we will be running free arts workshops to inspire the next generation of budding performers and encourage those who lack confidence. We want to give people (especially children and young adults) exposure to the arts that have never had the chance to experience them before, and for some of them, they will have the opportunity to perform at the Chiswick Proms.

Why The Chiswick Proms?

I fell in love with Chiswick House the first time I set eyes on it, and I knew straight away I would like to create an outdoor proms festival there. Chiswick has the most amazing community, and so I wanted to create a special event that would celebrate this in the most stunning setting.

I love delving into the narrative of historic buildings, so I have found the story of Chiswick House absolutely fascinating. For the Chiswick Proms, we will be updating the 18th century tradition of promenade concerts in the pleasure gardens of London, where the audience would stroll about while listening to the music and a variety of entertainment, hence the name ‘proms’. Instead the audience will be sitting down, maybe even enjoying a picnic on a blanket, then strolling to our various food and drink concessions.

The festival aims to bring the Chiswick community together, with high-class entertainment in an informal setting, to not only satisfy the most seasoned concert-goer, but also those who have never been to such an event before.

I really feel the Chiswick Proms will offer something totally unique, as we will be showcasing comedy, musical theatre and classical music all in the same place over three days. It’s amazing to have had such an incredibly positive reaction from the Chiswickians already, having only recently announced this new festival, and I’m thoroughly enjoying bringing it to life!

How have you seen live shows and the industry change in the last 5-10 years?

The industry continues to evolve and keeps all those involved on their feet! Everything is so much more social media driven these days, and there are more events being put on than ever before, plus the audience has ever-increasing expectations which have to be met if you want repeat custom. It feels like ticket prices are rising at an incredible rate, and I’m always aware of how price-sensitive people are, and want them to feel like they’re getting good value for money. I really try to keep ticket prices as low as possible, and for the Chiswick Proms we’re offering no booking fees, which is a huge saving as some companies charge the customer 12% which seems like daylight robbery! We always aim to exceed expectation and give people what they deserve when they give up their hard-earned money.

What do you have planned for future events and where do you see the business in the future?

The Chiswick Proms will become an annual fixture and we already have next year’s dates booked at Chiswick House (5-7 June 2020). We are currently booking tours for a number of artistes including Blake, Les Musicals and Richard & Adam, and are being approached regularly from artistes wanting us to represent them or put on a tour for them, as word-of-mouth has been very strong for us. We also manage various artistes such as G4, Mary-Jess and Lucy Kay, who is releasing her eagerly-anticipated second album later this year. As a business we really want to nurture the talent we look after, and look at things on a long-term plan rather than this ‘Next!’ culture that has become of the industry, especially as a result of the various reality TV talent shows. It’s the same with our events such as the Chiswick Proms, where each year we will make them even bigger and better, and grow and develop them.

Testimonials from audiences

“It was such a great event. We visited all three nights, which were quite different, and enjoyed each of them enormously. Looking forward to getting a bigger group of people together for next year’s event. Brilliant! Well done!” David Linton

“Yesterday was a wonderful day out, we all had such a lovely time. Next summer we shall be attending each concert.” Julie Bell

“Just wanted to say how absolutely fabulous the weekend was – to have such extraordinary talent up close was beyond belief. Non-stop seamless musical magic, and it was really family friendly – my son loved the giant connect four game at the back!”
Ali Wheeler