Pianist and conductor Simon Crawford-Phillips:

The idea

..Like most good ideas arrived late at night; a group of friends sitting around the kitchen table with a glass of wine. Friends keen to try and experiment with a new type of concert - let’s call it a happening rather than a concert. A happening which would be surprising for a seasoned ‘classical music’ listener, and enticing for someone hearing that kind of music for the first time.

The name

..came suddenly – Stockholm is a beautiful city and I count my lucky stars to have ended up here. I studied psychology at school, and so before I’d ever dreamt of coming to this city my association to it was with the ‘Stockholm Syndrome phenomenon’.

The psychological phenomenon of identifying, empathizing or even falling in love with your captors goes back to a hostage drama which shook Stockholm in 1974, where a centrally located bank was under siege for a week’s time. Shortly thereafter, the kidnapping of millionaires Patricia Hearst got enormous publicity, and her turnaround became known as the ‘Stockholm Syndrome’.

So, what does this have to do with music, you are asking yourself?

I have been told that the reason more people don’t go to classical music concerts is that they find the thought of entering a theatre or a concert hall intimidating.

With this in mind, Stockholm Syndrome Ensemble and construct an environment of surprise, theatre and story-telling which reveals the fact that all of our music has a real connection with the outside world.

We hope that our captured and captive audience might start to empathize and feel our excitement not only for the music but also for its interconnectedness across style, history and genre.

In a (more peaceful!) way this is the purpose of our experiment – to see if we can achieve the Stockholm Syndrome effect in a musical sense. 


The process

is a hard one. I’m a control freak, most of us in the group are, and so the structure of each concert takes a long time. In the absence of composing music, programme-building is my creative process. What pieces can we lay down side by side and play them in a certain way, under a certain light, to tell a certain story?

Suddenly everything is important and that challenge is thrilling and daunting. I look for stories or headlines to provide the narrative of each concert and then weave a musical web around it.

Sometimes a movement of something can be all that we need, sometimes an entire work, or even just a theme, something baroque, something contemporary, an arrangement of a symphony or a pop song, anything that will add meaning to the dramatic collage.

We welcome the chance to peer over the unhelpful boundaries of our own art form and collaborate or make use of others. Film, poetry, the spoken word, light design, dance, circus art - all to bring another flavor to the music.


The result

..so far is our series of concerts at Musikaliska. See here (link to projects) for our previous projects. Musikaliska is the oldest concert hall in the city - and is located not far from the scene for the Stockholm Syndrome crime. So we feel at home there!

The main hall has a beautiful sound and a technical staff who we love. The bar area downstairs allows us the chance to meet you in a less intense way. We usually present a live ’playlist’ to complement our concert, dessert after the main meal.

But we are keen to to be as diverse in our venues as our music and other plans are being made.

The future

..is exciting.

Stockholm Syndrome Ensemble represents an idea, a form of expressing music as much as it is a music group.

With that idea we can do anything, anywhere however we want. We just hope you like it…..