Remembering Musicians


I've often heard of the yearly Musicians' Chapel service, held in Holy Sepulchre Church, just up from the Old Bailey. During an Evensong in May, the names of musicians who have died in the previous year are read out from a book. I had never until this year managed to attend. Perhaps I'm getting to an age where these things have more meaning, and I certainly attend funerals more regularly.


But of course, in the case of this 'cohort' of the departed, this was in most cases the first opportunity to remember them en masse, following the long Covid period. I attended in particular to remember Jane Manning and Tony Payne, who died a year ago; we had been able able to invite thirty people to their funeral, and to livestream it. But it was wonderful after this event to chat to many more of their wonderful circle of friends and family; and the same was going on all over the church, as the various groups all caught up with each other. The service itself seemed to me unusually fervent, with 250 people in the congregation, and extremely fine choral singing from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire's chamber choir under Paul Spicer.


It goes without saying that every musician in this congregation, and those we were remembering, had spent two years in difficult circumstances, while prevented from practising their profession. This is another thing to commemorate, especially in the context of the ongoing revelations about Downing Street's party culture, and lack of concern about its fallout.



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JUDITH WEIR

Composer