About The Amadeus

Intro

As a former Welsh Presbyterian Chapel, originally one of five in London, the Amadeus offers a unique space for weddings and parties.

The former crypt with its vaulted ceilings, fairy-lit columns and in-situ light curtain provides a delightful space for a drinks reception, to be followed by dinner, either banquet style or on round tables, in the Upper Hall (at ground level).

The Upper Hall retains many of its original features – notably the wood-panelled horseshoe gallery and gilt-pipe organ. In addition, a 40-string canopy of fairy lights adorns the entire space creating a magnificent setting for your event, especially so for dancing afterwards whether to a DJ, a band or a ceilidh.

The venue can accommodate up to 180 guests for a seated meal or 200 standing. The ideal amount for a seated dinner is around 140/150.

The venue has a limited but nevertheless useful outside space and for every event, a minimum of two staff are on duty throughout the occasion.

The building was bought by the Subud Central London group in 1989 as a new home for the group and the business set up to support the then loan on the building and the Subud organisation. The Amadeus is a fully owned trading subsidiary of the charity Subud Britain. Many group members were involved in the renovation of the building and the early years of the business. These are some memories of some of them……

The chapel as we bought it was run down, but beautiful. The Welsh-speaking congregation had built it themselves in the mid-19th century. Some of them were carpenters and shipbuilders; it’s a fair guess that all of them sang – they were Welsh… The full-sized organ is still there, as are the musically excellent acoustics and the natural light. The building was effectively made up of three main parts. 

The open 2-storey upper hall occupied most of the main area of the structure, with wooden pews on the ground level, a balcony with more pews and the organ on 3 sides, and a very tall pulpit at the 4th end. This was to be the main latihan hall and rental area. 

A smaller hall and part of the pastor’s living and working area formed the basement, albeit with some natural light. This was to be the second latihan and rental hall, plus the café and group office.

Early years – Music venue

Harriet Gedge, the third manager to run the Amadeus Centre Ltd, successfully developed the Amadeus Centre business as a music and rehearsal venue. She was a music enthusiast and had many contacts in the music world. The venue was used regularly by orchestras for rehearsals. The Brodsky Quartet was resident for a while and Elvis Costello starred in one of a series of concerts organized by Harriet. Of the many audition bookings attracted to the venue, one of the more prestigious was the 3-week audition for the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition (which became a regular booking for several years thereafter). Harriet’s success was in part due to the personal welcome and attention she gave to all the rehearsal organisers and musicians.

In 1993, Harriet decided to move on having, in her two-year stint as manager, by virtue of her personality and natural marketing skills, given the enterprise a flying start. Smart in appearance, always charming and welcoming, she very much set the tone of the venue. She established personal relationships with all the major London-based orchestras to the extent that the daytime business generated was sufficient to support an almost full-time café facility run by Alfiah Blond and later by Rosada Hayes, whose excellent cakes were renowned amongst the music fraternity.  The Board’s intention at this time was to focus on the music side of the business and to seek a music-orientated replacement for Harriet. After advertising in the Guardian and elsewhere however, we were finally turned down by the chosen successor and by way of a temporary solution I (Richard Platings) was asked to consider filling in for a maximum of 6 months, which term eventually became 9 years.

Music bookings remained strong during the 90’s with the BBC Young Musician Competition continuing for several years to hold three weeks of auditions at the Amadeus. Little had we known I believe, when the building was first acquired that nearby in Delaware Road lay the BBC recording studios amongst whose clientele were the BBC Singers, for whom the Amadeus was something of a godsend.

Our rehearsal rates were less than half those at the studios so the Singers became one of our core clients. Likewise, the Monteverdi choir was led by Sir John Elliot Gardiner and to drop a few more names I recall Sir Simon Rattle coming into the office one day to check on bookings and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa attending a rehearsal on another occasion. We were, at that time the preferred rehearsal venue for the cream of London’s many orchestras and music groups.

The Amadeus has had its fair share of celebrity clients and guests. We still have a brochure signed by Lulu which my daughter somehow managed to acquire. One memorable booking occurred in 1996 when the venue was chosen by “Ghost” to be the location for the launch of their new clothing range during London Fashion Week. Specialist lighting and sound were brought in, the balcony was packed and a cluster of some 20 or more photographers was huddled against the end wall as models paraded through the hall…

The Venue’s Spaces

The upper hall.

The lower hall.