On Wednesday last week, over 1,000 people gathered for our annual Festival of St Cecilia event, this year held in Westminster Cathedral. The service which dates back to 1946, gives thanks and celebrates music and musicians, in honour of the patroness of musicians St Cecilia. It is held every year on the closest Wednesday to St Cecilia’s Day, 22 November.
The service brings together the choirs of Westminster Cathedral, St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey and this year we were delighted to premiere an anthem by renowned composer Michael Berkeley, specially commissioned by the RVW trust.
There was a performance from world-renowned trumpet soloist Crispian Steele-Perkins and a heart-warming speech from HMUK beneficiary Catherine Shrubshall, who talked about how Help Musicians UK has given support to many musicians she knows personally over the years, as well as herself when she was in need. Other speakers included Sally Beamish, Scottish-based composer, viola player and pianist and James Jolly, Editor in Chief of Gramophone Magazine.
Following the service, an invitation-only reception was attended by 110 friends of the charity, with a beautiful performance by violinist Ruth Palmer. Additionally, in a fascinating interview with BBC3’s Lucie Skeaping, the audience heard the story of how Ruth asked HMUK for help after suffering problems with her elbow, and how this episode made her realise how important music really was to her life.
A raffle also took place during the afternoon, with prizes including box seats at the English National Opera and a tour of the Roundhouse, kindly donated to HMUK by supporters of the charity.
We’d like to a say a big thank you to everyone who attended and donated – thanks to your generosity we raised almost £40,000, which goes directly to helping musicians in need across the UK.