Category Archives: Victoria Library

The final countdown

Gustav Holst 1921Our last Behind the Lines* School workshop brought this part of our amazing project with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to a close, but what a brilliant finale it was. An enthusiastic bunch of pupils from Servite Primary School in Kensington joined us on a musical adventure through the solar system. With workshop leader Detta Danford and musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, English composer Gustav Holst was our very own “stellar” musical guide.

Mars, BonattiFollowing a short warm up, the RPO musicians introduced us to Holst’s Planet Suite which he composed between 1914 and 1916. Each of the seven movements is named after a planet of the Solar System and its corresponding astrological character, opening with Mars – The bringer of war. The RPO musicians played some very war-like excerpts from Mars, got everybody clapping along in time with the music, and asked us to describe what it reminded us of. There were lots of ideas that fitted with the “outer space” theme ranging from ‘menacing’ to ‘invading aliens’, very fitting for a planet associated with Martian invasions.

The Seven Planets - JupiterThe musicians then blasted off into the solar system all the way to the fourth movement of the Suite: Jupiter – The bringer of jollity. As soon as we’d listened to the opening bars, it was easy to understand why the composer described it as being “joyful”; it’s a much brighter and happier piece than Mars. This was a great excuse to make up some words and sing along with the musicians: “Joyful, cheerful day, we’re so happy!”

But it was soon time for the musicians to re-launch the space ship to our final planetary destination: Neptune – The mystic, very dark and mysterious music, it almost sounded like the soundtrack to a horror movie.

Not wanting to linger too long in this eerie and scary place, we stopped our space travel for a while, came back down to earth and explored the Music Library’s shelves. Time for our RPO musicians to be put to the test and show off their fantastic sight reading skills, being presented with scores by Mozart and Richard Strauss proved to be no problem at all. Even better than this, music from The Lion King and The Jungle book didn’t phase them, but the highlight was undoubtedly a rendition of Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror for vibraphone, glockenspiel and violin. These guys really know their stuff!

Solar systemThere was still plenty of time to go back to our exploration of outer space and a return “trip” to Jupiter, this time for a musical re-imagining of this jolly planet. All the new ideas, rhythms and melodies the group created which had been inspired by Gustav Holst’s original Suite came together for a very “out of this world” final performance, before the return voyage to Planet Earth.

A very exciting journey of The Planet Suite for our young musical explorers, one which we hope will inspire all of us to learn more about this much loved symphonic work. Here’s a few interesting facts to get you started:

  • Gustav Holst studied astrology which inspired him to compose The Planet Suite
  • There are two missing planets: Earth and Pluto (the latter was undiscovered at the time he composed it)
  • The Planet Suite premiered in 1918 when The First World War was still raging.

For most of his adult life, Gustav Holst taught music at St Paul’s School for Girls in Hammersmith, part of our very own Tri-borough. He paid tribute to the school and the area in his St Paul’s Suite for strings, and Hammersmith, prelude and scherzo for military band.

[Ruth]


*In 2013 Westminster Music Library teamed up with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for Behind the Lines, a large-scale programme of musical activities focusing on composers and music of the First World War. Our adult, family and schools Behind the Lines workshops may be over (for now – we’re busily planning lots of future musical activities – watch this space!) but there’s still our Summer School to look forward to next month where we’ll be commemorating the music and composers of World War One, and ending with a grand finale performance by participants alongside musicians at St John Smith’s Square.

To find out more or to grab yourself a place on the Summer School, visit: www.musicbehindthelines.org/workshops/summer-school/

Six Books is just the start…

Six Book Challenge, Westminster 2014.

It’s been a most successful year for the 6 Book Challenge in South Westminster. We had 204 participants entering across Charing Cross, Victoria and Pimlico Libraries, and over a quarter of the participants completed the Challenge.

Six Book Challenge, Westminster 2014. Tham Kong Cheong read 24 books

Tham Kong Cheong read 24 books

This high participation rate led to the Reading Agency awarding Westminster Libraries ‘Public Library Authority of the Year’.

Six Book Challenge, Westminster 2014

Peter collected a certificate for WAES as “Institution of the Year” with 99 participants.

As with any success, it was not done alone. A variety of institutions delivered the 2014 Challenge. These included:

  • Westminster Kingsway College
  • Cardinal Hume Centre
  • Westminster Adult Education Service
  • Migrants Resource Centre
  • Chinese Community Cultural Centre 
Six Book Challenge, Westminster 2014. Luigi presenting Justo Pastuna Tipan with his award

Six Book Challenge, Westminster 2014. Luigi presenting Justo Pastuna Tipan with his award

A Big Thank You to all the Tutors  especially Rachel Applegate, Peter Warren, Ruth Lenard, Matthew Edwards, Carmen Castro and Deborah Bell.

Westminster Kingsway College are enthusiastic supporters each year of the Challenge.  This year they enrolled 97 students which resulted in Karin Klotz being awarded “Coordinator of the Year 2014”. 

Special guest Davina Elliott praised everyone on their efforts during the Challenge.

Six Book Challenge, Westminster 2014. Kingsway student Elena-Ramona Potoroaca receives her award from Guest of Honour Davina Elliott

Kingsway student Elena-Ramona Potoroaca receives her award from Guest of Honour Davina Elliott

To deliver the Challenge we need the help and support of various institutions and companies. So we would like to thank:

  • The Reading Agency for all the materials
  • Our Guest of Honour, writer Davina Elliott
  • Librarians Malcolm Batten and Nicholas Alexander at Charing Cross and Victoria libraries respectively.
  • Random House for providing the prizes again for this Year’s celebration event.
  • Particular thanks to Kate Gunning for helping throughout the project
Six Book Challenge, Westminster 2014. Jennifer and Maria from Ruth Lennard’s WAES group, with Davina Elliott

Jennifer and Maria from Ruth Lennard’s WAES group, with Davina Elliott

Finally, thank you and well done to all the participants in the 6 Book Challenge 2014. None of this would be possible without you – keep reading and see you in 2015!

[Luigi]

For more information about the 6 Book Challenge, see the Reading Agency website.

Are you ready to enter the Mythical Maze?

Nessy and chums - copyright Sarah McIntyre for The Reading AgencyYes, it’s that time of year again – the school summer holidays are starting and libraries all over the country are stepping up to provide fun and amusement for children at the same time as working to avoid the common ‘reading slump’ that can take place over the long break.

This year’s theme is the Mythical Maze, and there are lots of ways to join in online too – visit the Summer Reading Challenge website for games, book suggestions, writing challenges and videos from authors.

Here in Westminster we’re well known for – and proud of – going completely over the top with events for kids to back up the fun of reading and taking part in the Challenge. There are over 140 events across our libraries this summer – some for the little ones, some for older kids, and some for  all ages. There are themed craft sessions galore, comedy magic shows, puppets, music and dancing, visits from Zoo Lab and more – download the leaflet for your local library below.

The rules are the same as usual:
Medusa - copyright Sarah McIntyre for The Reading AgencySign up at the beginning of the holidays, borrow books, read them, and come in after each couple of books and tell us all about them!
You’ll get stickers along the way and if you read six or more books over the summer you get a medal :-).

So, don’t delay – come along to the library and enter the Mythical Maze Summer Reading Challenge!

Library Events leaflet – click to download
Charing Cross Library 6 events
21 July – 11 September
Church Street Library 13 events
29 July – 27 August
Maida Vale Library 15 events
25 July – 29 August
Marylebone Library 15 events
22 July – 28 August
Mayfair Library 10 events
8 July – 23 September
Paddington Library 19 events
23 July – 28 August
Pimlico Library 13 events
21 July – 27 August
Queen’s Park Library 17 events
25 July – 29 August
St John’s Wood Library 20 events
23 July – 28 August
Victoria Library 14 events
21 July – 28 August

Mythical Maze - the Summer Reading Challenge 2014

Over here… and over there

It’s no surprise that there are events to commemorate the centenary of the First World War happening all over the country; we at Westminster Music Library are over half way through our year-long Behind the Lines project*, taking a closer look at the music and composers of WW1.

But what about all those fabulous, morale boosting, patriotic and often romantic popular songs of the WW1 era? How could we possibly not include them in our repertoire?

Many of these songs are catchy and great fun to sing – did we need a better reason to invite our local residents along for a jolly good sing-along?

WW1 singalong at Westminster Music Library

So last Friday we treated the good people of Westminster to a sing-along of popular WW1 songs, ably supported by our house pianist.

From It’s a Long Way to Tipperary (possibly the best known song from the War, it’s actually a Music Hall song from 1912 with no military connection. Jack Judge, the author of the lyrics, apparently wrote it as a bet. The troops adopted it in the summer of 1914 and it became one of the most popular songs of WW1), the deeply satirical Oh! It’s a Lovely War (reflecting the growing frustration as the War continued without conclusion, this song went on to inspire the musical and film Oh, What a Lovely War! in the 1960s), Over there (words and music by American George M Cohan; Over there was his most famous song, he was even awarded a congressional citation for penning it) to the much loved Keep the home fires burning (the greatest patriotic song to come out of England during the First World War, although written in London, was actually the result of a collaboration in 1914 between American lyricist, Lena Guilbert Ford, and Welsh composer, Ivor Novello).

It proved to be an enjoyable day out for our participants and the first of a number of similar events we have up our sleeves.

The following day saw both singer and pianist trekking across London to Woolwich, to perform our now very well rehearsed First World War sing-along at the BBC WW1 at Home Summer Tour. Part of the Woolwich Great Get Together and Armed Forces Day, not only were we entertaining the “troops”, we had our “15 minutes of fame”, a live interview with Robert Elms to plug Westminster Music Library on BBC Radio London.

WW1 singalong with Westminster Music Library

Our next Westminster Music Library WW1 Sing-along is scheduled as part of Westminster’s Silver Sunday activities in October; however we are always open for bookings…

I just wanted to extend a huge thank you for taking part in Saturday’s BBC WWI @ Home event. I appreciate all the effort, time and patience that went into keeping the show on the road – despite our various disruptions – not least the rain!
The feedback we had from people about our content was hugely positive… that positivity was completely owing to your contribution and we could not have done it without you.
We hope you enjoyed the experience too – not just being on the stage but your stint on the radio, which is heard by hundreds of thousands of Londoners.
On behalf of our stage host David Friend and Robert Elms and his team – thank you and I wish you lots of success with your library and workshops.
Kulwant Sohal, Senior Broadcast Journalist, BBC London

[Ruth]


*Westminster Music Library has teamed up with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for ‘Behind the Lines’, a large-scale programme of musical activities focusing on composers and music of the First World War. Taking place across the City of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea for 12 months starting in October 2013, we present interactive workshops and creative music projects focusing on composers such as Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Ravel, Bliss, and Holst.

Our year of Behind the Lines activities culminates with a four day Creative Summer School in August 2014, celebrating the music and composers of World War One, with a grand finale performance by participants alongside musicians from the Orchestra at St John Smith’s Square.

To find out more or to grab yourself a place on the Summer School, visit: http://musicbehindthelines.org/workshops/summer-school/

Ralph Vaughan Williams re-visits Westminster Music Library

Westminster Music Library played host to the introduction of the work of Ralph Vaughan Williams to year 6 pupils of St. Barnabas CofE school, particularly fitting as the library was opened by the man himself back in 1948.  

Workshop leader Detta was accompanied by no fewer than five RPO musicians: two violinists, one flautist, one bassoonist and one cellist – enough to almost fully demonstrate the music.

Foggy LondonThe children were all introduced to the variety of  orchestral instruments before listening to them play as an ensemble as they demonstrated a section of Vaughan Williams’ ‘A London Symphony’, which reflects an older London filled with smog and mist. 

However, before being told the theme and title of the work, the pupils of St. Barnabas School put their imaginations in gear and considered what the music may represent – the group decided it sounded quite sad, quiet, and melancholic.  Some individuals offered their opinions, and thought the music sounded like someone dying, someone in danger, or someone upset. 

Next came the Pastoral Symphony which sounded completely different with its portrayal of country folk life and music to suggest dancing, feasts and celebration.  There are questions whether this work is based on an actual folk song or not, but it would not be implausible to suggest so, as Vaughan Williams was a keen collector of folk music. 

Pastoral scene

The workshop group decided to experiment and play around with this music, performing it both faster and slower than originally intended by the composer.  The effect of slowness changed the dance-like character of the music to boring and “too calm”, as suggested by one pupil.  Playing it much faster was a clear favourite among the pupils as it was much more exciting, lively and happy.  The dance-like feel of the music was made using a lot of dotted rhythms.  The group put their own touch to the music by adding some more interesting rhythms using percussive body sounds.  This group was very imaginative and created quite a tricky but effective rhythm!  The group will take this rhythm back to school and work on it further to create their own piece of music in the remaining sessions they have with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Finally, the children made use of the Music Library and put the RPO musicians’ sight reading skills to the test as they all chose a score from the shelves at random.  Unfortunately for the musicians, a few individuals picked some tricky pieces, including one of the hardest pieces in the whole library – Berio’s Sequenza for Viola.  One of the violinists made a good attempt at it, before the whole ensemble was asked to play a snippet from Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini.  Changing genre to finish with, the group played some Bob Dylan – much to the delight of our cellist, Roberto!

[Jane]


*Behind the Lines is a year-long programme of participatory events run by Westminster Music Library in partnership with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, to encourage local communities from across Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea to engage with the Library and its collections. The programme uses the centenary of the First World War as inspiration for a series of interactive workshops and creative projects designed for adult, family and school participants.

Although outr workshops have come to a close, you can still enroll for the 4 day summer school in August which is suitable all ages and abilities. Visit the website for details: http://musicbehindthelines.org/workshops/summer-school/   to find out more.