Category Archives: Victoria Library

We love to boogie

All aboard!
Westminster Music Library played host to The Strings Club as they “took to the road”, giving local children across Westminster a free taste of their award-winning music workshops. The fun packed instrumental workshop we were about to enjoy proved to be the perfect way for our young musicians to while away a rainy afternoon in London, and also gave their hard pressed parents a bit of a break from puzzling over just what to do next as the school holidays drew to a close.

The Strings Club at Westminster Music Library, August 2014

So what is it all about? Since 2012, The Strings Club have been running holiday camps and term-time classes to inspire children as young as four to develop their music skills, make new friends, and most importantly to have fun while they’re doing it.  Our session, led by workshop leaders Daniel and Georgina, kicked off with some warm up musical activities and games, then each participant was invited try their hand at playing the guitar or the violin.

The Strings Club at Westminster Music Library, August 2014

After a brief discussion and try-out session, everyone chose which instrument they’d prefer and disappeared off to various library nooks and crannies to rehearse. Some of our young musicians had something of a head start, as we already had some potential Paganinis and Segovias in our midst, so not allowed to get off lightly, they were encouraged to entertain us with some splendid solos.

The Strings Club at Westminster Music Library, August 2014

But this was only the warm-up act, the ensemble performance of a five bar blues from our budding entertainers was excellent considering they’d only had a couple of hours practice, and a masterful rendition of boogie-woogie by tutors Daniel and Georgina really showed what can be achieved with a little application.

Let’s hope The Strings Club passes through here again soon as they seemed to go down rather well…

“Well organised and fast paced enough for small kids.”
“It was a fantastic opportunity for my son, very inspirational, thank you.”
“We really enjoyed ourselves, loved all the instruments.”
“Absolutely brilliant, would like to see more of these organised, we’ll definitely come back.”
“This was a fantastic family event – educational, fun, informative and very, very enjoyable.”

[Ruth]

A victorious evening

Another sultry night in Westminster Music Library and this time we were playing host to the Victory Wind Quintet, a group of professional musicians who have been working together for over ten years, primarily within the Guards Bands. The players have busy careers combining solo work, chamber music and freelancing. Lucky for us they had time to pay us a visit, and even luckier that what they had in mind for repertoire chimed beautifully with our First World War music and composers project – Behind the Lines – although this concert was set to embrace music from both World Wars (I can feel another project coming on…).

Victory Wind Quintet at Westminster Music Library, August 2014

Tuning up complete, our audience settled and suitably refreshed with a cooling drink, The “Victory” marched off with renditions of some First World War music, some of which was already familiar to us in Westminster Music Library, including George Butterworth’s The banks of green willow. Described by its composer as an “Idyll”, and written in 1913, he based The Banks of Green Willow on two folk song melodies. Butterworth was a lieutenant in the Durham Light infantry and was killed on 5 August 1916, during the Battle of the Somme.

Our First World War selection ended with a wonderful arrangement of It’s a long way to Tipperary by John Whitfield, but then it was fast forward to World War Two and an arrangement of the famous song A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square. Written in 1939 by Manning Sherwin in the then small French fishing village of Le lavandou shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, it became one of the best selling and most popular songs of the era.

No recital of war-inspired music would be complete without some marching songs and we were treated to a rousing medley, but not wishing to monopolise the show with the army (our musicians variously play with The Coldstream Guards Band, the Band of the Irish Guards, the Band of the Welsh and Scots Guards), we turned our attention to the air with Aces High, a march  written by Ron Goodwin for the 1969 film “The Battle of Britain”, and a grand finale comprising a selection of sea songs. According to Nick (our horn player) the Navy hasn’t written much in the way of songs since the eighteenth century, but that hasn’t stopped them re-working some old favourites with often slightly more risqué lyrics… however our quintet had plenty of mariner-themed tunes up their talented sleeves and with a sailor’s hornpipe taken at a dazzling tempo, all too soon it was time for anchors away as The “Victory” set sail.

Victory Wind Quintet at Westminster Music Library, August 2014

All five musicians gave a faultless and captivating performance, and I hope they’ll hold good to their promise and march our way again soon.

[Ruth]

Summer Reading Challenge – Week 3: the volunteers!

The Summer Reading Challenge is carrying on all summer in our libraries, so if you haven’t already taken part, there is still time to enter The Mythical Maze!

Eve - Summer Reading Challenge volunteer at Victoria Library 2014This week we are highlighting the work of our fabulous summer volunteers who help us deliver the Challenge in our libraries.

Working with the Reading Agency on their Reading Activists project, we have been focusing on recruiting young people in particular, alongside volunteers from the rest of the community. Reading Activists gives young people new skills and opportunities. We have some great volunteers giving their time to talk to children about their books and helping with events.

Here are just a few of them!

George and Danilo - Summer Reading Challenge volunteers at Paddington Children’s Library 2014

[Rachel]

A-Maze-ing! Summer Reading Challenge, Week 2

A giant unicorn head at Queens’ Park library, made by Jono and Lucy. Just because.This week in the Mythical Maze, we’ve been involved in everything from sports sessions to cartoon workshops to magic events! And of course we’ve been busy giving out rewards to the children taking part in the Mythical Maze Summer Reading Challenge. Have you joined up yet? No? Why not?!

We have had 1300 children join the Challenge so far across Westminster libraries, with more than 70 completing the Challenge already by reading 6 books.

Lots of children and families have also been coming to our events – here is a selection of pictures of what’s been going on this week…

Nora from Stretch and Grow at Charing Cross Library, for the Summer Reading Challenge 2014 Laura the community sports coach led games at Queen’s Park Library for the Summer Reading Challenge 2014 Boo Hiccup at Victoria Library for the Summer Reading Challenge 2014   James Parsons - comic workshop at Paddington Children’s Library for the Summer Reading Challenge 2014   Comic workshop at Paddington Children’s Library for the Summer Reading Challenge 2014

Clockwise from top left:
Laura the community sports coach who led games at Queen’s Park Library;
Nora from Stretch and Grow at Charing Cross Library;
Boo Hiccup at Victoria library;
James Parsons’ comic workshop at Paddington Children’s Library;
Mythical Maze produced at the Comic Workshop.

So what are you waiting for – get down to your local library and join in!

[Rachel]

We’re all going on a Summer Reading Challenge!

Westminster Music Library hates to miss out on the annual Summer Reading Challenge, so a sunny morning with the under 5s was a good opportunity for us to join in the fun.

Summer Reading Challenge event at Westminster Music Library, July 2014

This year’s Mythical Maze theme challenges children to make their way around a labyrinth full of fantastical creatures from the world of legend and mythology. Our young participants and their intrigued “minders” made their way to the labyrinth that is Westminster Music Library, into a world full of fantastical creatures also known as “the Music Library staff”. Hopefully this will put paid to the rumours that we are the things of myth and legend (although it’s fair to say that our House Pianist has recently become a bit of legend himself, check out his recent musical escapades in Woolwich with the BBC…)

But even legends have to earn their keep, and entertaining a lively bunch of excited children counts as “all in a days’ work” to the staff in Westminster Music Library. Anyone wishing to join our ranks please take note.

Dragon - copyright Sarah McIntyre for The Reading Agency

Back to our challenge. Once everyone was settled, it was time to give out some song sheets and get the party started. We had songs about going on summer holidays (written by Cliff Richard), songs about being beside the seaside (written by John A Glover-Kind), poems about frogs and sailors (product of the overactive imaginations of Music Library staff), all accompanied by our very own junior orchestra on a selection of percussion instruments, and sourced from the seemingly inexhaustible Children’s Library Cupboard.

The challenge was to get our participants to come up with as many strange or mythical creatures as they thought might be living in the sea: scary giant squid with their long tentacles, or those weird looking things that lurk about in the murky depths with torches on their heads. Once everyone had invented their mythical marine creature, we had a suitably apt poem about learning to swim:

Mermaid - copyright Sarah McIntyre for The Reading Agency

 

Last summer I could not swim at all
I couldn’t even float,
I had to use a rubber ring
Or hang on to a boat;

I had to sit beside the sea
When everybody swam;
But now this summer’s come at last
I’ve learnt and now I can!

 

A head count of the swimmers and non-swimmers amongst us was about fifty-fifty; let’s hope our mythical sea creatures haven’t put the non-swimmers off…

Happy Summer Reading Challenge!

Mythical Maze - the Summer Reading Challenge 2014

[Ruth]

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.