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At our St Valentine’s Day fundraiser in Mansion House, Sir Nicholas Kenyon (CMF Trustee and Managing Director of the Barbican) gave a short speech outlining plans for an exciting new chapter for City Music Foundation.

CMF has been looking for its own space for some time, a place to host our many core activities and our office. Well, we’re delighted to share that we hope soon to begin a partnership with St Bartholomew the Less, a beautiful 15th-century octagonal church within the grounds of St Bartholomew’s Hospital. We are grateful for the generous support of architecture firm Gensler, who have started work on the brief, making feasibility plans and arranging surveys.

It is hoped that this historic building, which will always very much remain the church for the hospital patients, relatives and staff, will become CMF’s home and so the main venue for our work too. This proposed development is happening in the context of wider changes occurring within the public realm in the North-West quarter of the City of London: the arrival of Crossrail, the relocation of the Museum of London, the building of a new Centre for Music, and the formation of Culture Mile, which the church lies within.

It is CMF’s vision that St Bart’s the Less will be a place of music and silence, accessible to old and young, firm and infirm. There would continue to be regular church services, but there would also be open rehearsals for everyone, wheelchair and bed concerts, a café with books and periodicals, free lunchtime and evening recitals. And every day there would be be quiet, music free, periods as well as a new quiet room or chapel available.

As a home for CMF, St Bart’s the Less would be able to provide a place for all our charitable activities, and where we hope to fulfil our mission to the hospital and its patients and staff too. CMF hopes to have an office on a mezzanine within the west end of the church, and meeting room where we can hold professional development workshops and mentoring sessions, offer rehearsal space for CMF artists, hold auditions, recording sessions and recitals.

After the agreeing and completing the necessary work, St Bart’s the Less would be a very inviting, attractive sanctuary, drawing in people who have not discovered it before. And it would allow the existing work of CMF to flourish, whilst sharing what we do with more widely.

St Valentine’s Day isn’t traditionally a day for a party, but it is a day for giving.

Last Wednesday we hosted a sumptuous event at the Mansion House, kick-starting our fundraising campaign to create a permanent home for CMF in the City of London. Naturally the evening was full of music, as well as fine food and drink, and we made full use of what is a truly palatial house.

After cocktails in the Salon, our guests were whisked upstairs to the Old Ballroom for the first musical entertainment of the evening, Mendelssohn’s fizzing Octet. Written for two string quartets, this piece always provides an opportunity for artistic collaboration and sharing, and for this performance CMF Artists the Gildas Quartet and Michael Foyle teamed up with three members of the world-renowned Brodsky Quartet, who are CMF patrons.

The majority of the evening was spent in the Egyptian Hall, where a delicious 5-course meal was served, as well as more music between courses! The first turn came from our special guest, Hugh Laurie, who played the narrator in Poulenc’s The Story of Babar the Little Elephant, accompanied by celebrated pianist and CMF patron, Iain Burnside.


After dessert, Michael Foyle took to the stage again to offer a few musical bonbons with Iain Burnside. They performed Elgar’s Salut d’Amour and Kreisler’s Liebeslied, between which Michael spoke about how much CMF has improved his life and work as a musician.

Once the meal had finished, CMF trustee and Managing Director of the Barbican, Sir Nicholas Kenyon, gave a short speech outlining our plans for a permanent home in the City of London. With the generous support of Gensler, CMF will soon begin developing St Bartholomew the Less, a beautiful, 16th-century octagonal church within the grounds of St Bartholomew’s Hospital. This church will become CMF’s home and so the main venue for our work, be it workshops, recordings, rehearsals, or concerts, all the while engaging with the local hospital community. Sir Nicholas’s speech put this development in the context of the wider changes occurring within the public realm in the North-West quarter of the City of London, including the formation of Culture Mile, of which the church will be a part.

The final item in the Egyptian Hall was an auction, which was run by Giorgia Parodi Brown from Sotheby’s. Twelve lots were sold in total, including three Silver Picture Frames made by Grant Macdonald, two etchings by Norman Ackroyd RA, two tickets to the Last Night of the Proms, and a commission from 2014 CMF Artist Misha Mullov-Abbado.

After the Loyal Toast, the doors to the Salon were flung open and the Kansas Smitty’s House Band played the remaining revelers into the night, dancing all the way.

There was much talk of repeating this event in 2019, so watch this space!

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