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Lord Lieutenant Launches St Matthew’s Music Foundation

22 November 2018

A major new local music charity, the St Matthew’s Music Foundation, was launched by David Laing, Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, at a St Cecilia’s Day concert given by the illustrious choir of the famous St Matthew’s Church, Kingsley, at 7.30pm on Thursday 22 November.

The choir performed several famous anthems commissioned by the church, including Benjamin Britten’s internationally known piece, Rejoice in the Lamb. Solo performances were given by Sophie Stringfellow, a finalist of the BBC Radio 2 “Young Chorister of the Year competition” and Joseph Hirst, a talented young organist who is also a chorister in the choir.

Simon Toyne, Chair of the St Matthew's Music Foundation, said, “We have set up the Foundation to develop a wider support base, nationally and internationally, attracting funds to develop the music programme of the church in innovative and far-reaching ways.

Our aim is to widen access to the English choral tradition through increasing the church’s musical partnership work with schools, funding an organ scholarship scheme to generate the church organists of the future, establishing choral scholars in partnership with the university, and enhancing the offer to adult singers through dedicated singing tuition. We want to enable St Matthew’s to be a hub for the community at large to connect to our rich cultural heritage as enthusiastic participants.”

Justin Miller, Director of Music, said, “If we want to expose every child in Northampton to the joys of a chorister education, we must first let them know that the opportunity exists right here on their doorstep. With proper training and commitment there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to sing difficult music to a high standard. But we will never know if we don’t try first. It is hoped that through the Foundation we might be able to reach every child in town and build upon the important work that we’ve been doing for 125 years.”

The Vicar, Canon Nicholas Setterfield, said, “St Matthew’s is a parish church of significance and national reputation, famed not only for its remarkable tradition of commissioning new music, art and literature, but for the dignity of its worship, the integration of the English choral tradition, and the quality of its choir. We owe a debt of gratitude to that great patron of art and second Vicar of this Parish, Fr Walter Hussey, for his remarkable perception and foresight in initiating this venerable tradition.

St Matthew’s continues to provide often career building opportunities for young musicians to flourish and progress, also to participate on a par with adults. A distinguished succession of singers and cathedral directors of music have received their formative experiences here; they have gone on to offer their gifts in the service of the wider Church. Countless others, now dispersed far and wide, remember their musical experiences at St Matthew’s with genuine affection, and a smile on their face. They have discovered the potential for music to enrich lives and elevate worship, raising the whole self to God. Their current successors will doubtless this evening more than justify their place within the living tradition in which they stand.

With the creation of the Music Foundation we honour the past and – crucially – we look to the future. We seek to develop and expand our musical offering, to fulfil the potential of this sought-after venue in new and imaginative ways, to create a cultural hub, to pursue excellence for the many, provide new opportunities for shared learning and community encounter, and to stimulate a wider appreciation of and engagement with the musical endeavour.”

David Laing, Lord Lieutenant, "in launching the Foundation, congratulated committee members for raising the £22,000 to purchase the wonderful new concert piano for the church. He then compared the nurturing of children in the musical education that the Foundation will develop to the biblical parable of the sowers. He said, “we all know that seed scattered on the ground does not grow into a fruitful harvest if it is not encouraged, tended and nurtured.”

For further information, email the St Matthew’s Music Foundation at;  tel 01604 791251

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