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'Intimate seated shows that put you closer to the music': Jane Beese on programming the Roundhouse's highly successful 'In The Round' series

Jane Beese is Head of Music at Camden’s iconic Roundhouse. Previously she worked at the Southbank Centre as Head of Contemporary Music. Her role at the Roundhouse has various strands – not least juggling the busy music diary, which brings over 100 shows a year to the Roundhouse’s Main Space. She also programmes In the Round, a series of intimate seated gigs, which sees the venue transform into a unique 'in the round' setting. Now entering its 4th year In the Round runs from 22-31 January 2019.

Here Jane talks about programming the series, and just why it’s so successful.

“It all began in 2016 when we decided to introduce something entirely different to our programme that would contrast not only with the type of acts that perform throughout the year, but the way we present them. So we configured the space into a more intimate seated setting around a lower stage. It means that we’ve been able to successfully turn a large capacity room into an intimate space and programme such a broad church of different styles and genres. Our first year included some really memorable shows that varied from a full-on, one-off performance from John Cale to a rare, extraordinarily delicate performance from Keaton Henson in whichyou could hear a pin drop. We also presented Marianne Faithful, Matthew E White, Camille O’Sullivan, Edwyn Collins, Gaz Coombes, Rokia Traore and Scritti Politti, so we set ourselves quite a high bar.

Most of the acts that perform at ‘In the Round’ really embrace the opportunity to do something different, so we’ve been lucky enough to have some ‘firsts’ and exclusives.  Julian Cope stunned us all with a solo performance that included multiple anecdotes from his career, while Ghetts used the space to revisit his breakthrough album ‘Ghetto Gospel’ that was celebrating its 10th anniversary. This year, we’re excited to be the first UK venue to have Patti Smith perform her ‘Evening of Words and Music’ and it will be the very first solo show from Jim James of My Morning Jacket; stripped down, just voice and guitar. 

One thing about the Roundhouse that we’re particularly proud of is our ethos of nurturing young talent. We provide help and training to people aged 11 - 25 in areas of music performance, poetry, digital marketing, event production and much more. It all takes place in our Paul Hamlyn Roundhouse Studios and since the first series of ‘In the Round’, we’ve always kept a support slot on each show for one of our Roundhouse Resident Artists or Alumni – it’s a great opportunity for our upcoming creatives to play in the Main Space. 

There’s a rolling list of artists that we’d love to see play here – some of whom may have been here before and some who haven’t – it’s an opportunity to open up programming to all the music fans in our Roundhouse family. 

The Roundhouse’s rich history tends to influence everything we do here, but with specific regard to ‘In the Round’, I think we always want to include some artists with a connection to the venue, who may have played here back in the day – Marianne Faithful, who performed for us in 2016, last appeared on stage at the Roundhouse back in 1969 playing Ophelia in Hamlet. This year we welcome folk legend Shirley Collins who, as it turns out, played at the Roundhouse with her sister, Dolly, 50 years ago at the launch of Harvest Records - so it’s an auspicious anniversary. But we always want to include emerging artists as well – from Ghetts in 2017, to Fatima this year who’s really turning heads with her neo-soul voice and old school vibe.

People keep asking me what my highlights are this year, and I have to say, “all of them!” There’s such a range of artists on the 2019 bill that I couldn’t possibly choose. Of course it’s always a honour to have Patti Smith performing, but each year is full of surprises!”

A taste of things to come...

Tuesday 22 January: Ana Moura
Wednesday 23 January: Fatima
Thursday 24 January: Gruff Rhys
Friday 25 January: An Evening of Words and Music with Patti Smith
Saturday 26 January: The Hot Sardines
Sunday 27 January: Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes
Monday 28 January: Sam Palladio    
Tuesday 29 January: Jim James    
Wednesday 30 January: This Is The Kit
Thursday 31 January: Shirley Collins

'In The Round'
Tuesday 22 - Thursday 31 January 2019
Roundhouse
Info & Tickets: roundhouse.org.uk