St Mary Newington

St Mary Newington, my local parish church, has a plucky history. Founded in ancient times but demolished by Victorian road-wideners, its next (1876) building was comprehensively bombed on 10th May 1941. If you are travelling (above ground) from Elephant and Castle to Oval, you can see the remaining church tower and portal on your left. A new church opened behind these ruins in 1958 – while I was waiting to get in yesterday I noticed that Princess Margaret had been involved in that courageous rebuild.

I was visiting thanks to local intelligence that The Summer Sunshine Smile Bringers Tour of South London 2014 were about to appear. I’m glad I caught them. It was a reminder of how music-making in Britain has changed in my lifetime. A group of small children on extremely various instruments played music influenced by arabic Maqam, whereupon continents were switched for some great music on violin, djembe and tuba. An interested audience sang along with a few hymns, backed up by the hottest rhythm section I’d heard since…the previous night at Steve Reich. I crossed my fingers (perhaps not strictly necessary in a church) that these mostly primary-school age performers could retain their enthusiasm for playing live music right through their secondary school careers. What a lot of factors are involved in that complicated transition.

Congratulations to all concerned, especially tutors David Powell, Kate Hayes and Pablo Paracchino.

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JUDITH WEIR

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