Tag Archives: fundraising

Henry Purcell – local boy makes good

Henry Purcell sculpture by Glynn Williams 1995, Christchurch Gardens SW1In a library situated between Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, there is a fine collection of music books and printed music – the one and only Westminster Music Library.

We’ve developed a bit of a reputation for obtaining money for all manner of music related activities, sometimes from the unlikeliest of sources…

So it was that following our MOD funded Joint Force Singers choral project last June, I started thinking about what Westminster Music Library could do next for the good citizens of the Borough. Maybe it was time to start looking a little closer to home for some inspiration.

Henry Purcell - portrait by John Closterman, 1660-1711

There have been hundreds of famous people who were born in Westminster, from Queen Anne to the First Earl of Zetland, but what about those who dedicated their lives to music? Composers like Thomas Busby, brothers George and Walter McFarren, all interesting but not exactly household names. I needed a show stopper, someone who had a real connection to Westminster throughout his life. How about the chap considered to be England’s greatest composer of the Baroque era, famously dubbed the “Orpheus Britannicus” for his ability to combine powerful English counterpoint with expressive, flexible, and dramatic word settings? None other than Henry Purcell.

Born in Old Pye Street, a stone’s throw from Westminster Abbey and Westminster’s present day City Archives, Purcell’s interest in music began when he was a young child. Even the street names in his neighbourhood are enough to get the imagination running riot: Abbey Orchard Street, Devil’s Acre, Thieving Lane.

Rumour has it that he started composing at the age of 9, his earliest work being the ode for King Charles’ birthday in 1670. The young Purcell attended Westminster School, was appointed copyist at Westminster Abbey in 1676, and landed the impressive post of Organist of Westminster Abbey by the time he was 20, in 1679. As organist of Westminster Abbey, he played at William and Mary’s coronation on 11 April 1689. An impressive pedigree for a local boy, and definitely someone we should be celebrating.

Henry Purcell: Chacony (MSS British Library)

While Purcell is well worth celebrating, I needed to think about how to do it – how could this celebration help residents to connect with their community, make the most of the local opportunities and assets available to them, and encourage them to celebrate Westminster’s unique historic heritage?

With musical expertise from our long-time partners the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the knowledgeable staff at Westminster City Archives (an Aladdin’s Cave of fascinating information, maps and photographs of the area), I put together a proposal which includes a series of intergenerational workshops for local residents and school children, resource packs for both adults and children, and an exhibition focusing on the life, music, history and heritage of Henry Purcell. And the beauty of Henry Purcell as far as Westminster Music Library is concerned? We have lots of books and scores in our collection with his name on them!

So we’re good to go for February 2017, with the generous help of the Westminster Cultural Partnerships Team and Westminster City Councillors – watch this space!



The Mayfair Treasure Hunt!

Mayfair LibraryOn Thursday 4 June, Deborah Javor of the Friends of Mayfair Library and Susie Johns joined forces to raise money in support of Mayfair Library.

The evening kicked off with drinks and canapés for 120 people at the Grosvenor’s head office. Participants were sent off with a map and a series of clues to hunt for treasure in the mean streets of Mayfair. The Millennium Hotel was hosting a “pit stop” for the journey serving tea, coffee and savoury snacks.

Deborah Javor of the Friends of Mayfair Library welcomes participants in the Mayfair Library Treasure Hunt 2015

Deborah Javor welcomes participants in the Mayfair Library Treasure Hunt 2015

The final destination was the Porsche showroom on Berkeley Square, where Porsche kindly offered their space to host a buffet dinner and an auction. There was also a band and prizes for winners – and even for losers.

The Daniel Benisty Band performing at the Porsche Centre - Mayfair Library Treasure Hunt 2015

The Daniel Benisty Band performing at the Porsche Centre

This was a great opportunity to bring residents and local businesses together.

Prizes were kindly donated by local businesses such as The Beaumont Hotel, the Connaught Hotel, Watches of Switzerland, Le Gavroche, Thomas Goode, Langan’s Brasserie etc… (too many names to mention!)

This was an amazing night and it is estimated that the Friends of Mayfair Library were able to raise £10,000 through ticket sales, donations and the auction. The money raised by the Friends will be used to pay for a range of initiatives to promote literacy and also to extend the range of library activities for the people who live and work in Mayfair.

Thank you to all our sponsors, donors and supporters.