Help Musicians is delighted that the Bishop of London, the Rt Reverend and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE, is set to deliver a special sermon at this year’s Festival of St Cecilia at Westminster Abbey on November 20.
The 73rd edition of the Festival will see the choirs of St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral come together to perform a specially composed anthem by Bob Chilcott under the direction of James O’Donnell, Organist and the Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey. The service will also feature a performance from the Help Musicians-supported violinist Jennifer Pike and a reading from the acclaimed Scottish tenor Nicky Spence.
The 2019 Festival will reflect the rich 98-year history of Help Musicians as it approaches its centenary year in 2021, whilst paying homage to both the Patroness of music, St Cecilia, and the musicians whose legacies continue to enrich our lives through music.
Following the service at Westminster Abbey, the Festival Lunch reception will take place at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s home, Lambeth Palace, and will feature a performance from violinist Yume Fujise, who was supported by Help Musicians’ Transmission Fund in 2018 to attend a masterclass in Popiglio, Italy. Additionally, a silent auction and raffle will take place at Lambeth Palace, where attendees will have the chance to support the charity further.
Opera singer, Help Musicians beneficiary and Festival of St Cecilia reader, Nicky Spence said: “I am so thrilled to be delivering the first reading at this year’s Festival of St Cecilia. The 73rd edition of the annual flagship event from Help Musicians is a wonderful celebration and fitting ceremony of thanks for the gift of music. I have been involved with Help Musicians for many years, having previously raised money for their vital cause via a 500 mile cycle and ‘off stage’ calendar. Throughout my career I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by both musicians and music from around the world and have myself benefited from the support offered by Help Musicians. It is for these reasons, and knowing the brilliant work that the charity does, that I am honoured to take part in this year’s Festival of St Cecilia.”
Since 1946, the Festival of St Cecilia has been the flagship event in Help Musicians’ calendar. According to legend, St. Cecilia was a Roman woman who was martyred for her Christian faith around the year 230 AD. She made a lifelong vow of chastity, despite being forced by her father to marry a pagan nobleman. It is understood that during her wedding St Cecilia "sang in her heart to the Lord", which is why she was named the patron saint of music. St Cecilia’s “feast day” is celebrated annually on November 22.