Proms at St Judes switches to ‘Proms at Home’

Braimah Kanneh-Mason plays at the St Jude's online Proms

Braimah Kanneh-Mason plays at the St Jude's online Proms - Credit: Archant

The annual arts festival goes online this year with three weeks of music events, book talks, and family activities

Claire Calman

Claire Calman - Credit: Archant

The annual Proms at St Jude’s festival goes online this year with a range of concerts, book talks and family activities.

Organisers of the Hampstead Garden Suburb arts festival have replaced the usual live events with a virtual ‘Proms at Home’ programme.

While all of the content is free, festival founder and trustee Susie Gregson hopes audiences will “make an optional donation in our virtual bucket” to support the Proms’ twin charities of Toynbee Hall and the North London Hospice.

In a video message to Proms regulars and new faces she said: “We wanted to find some way to help our charities, to keep musicians in the public eye, and stay connected with all of you. While we may not be able to recreate the party atmosphere or edgy excitement of live performance, if you settle down to participate in an event or two, we hope it will lift your spirits and whet your appetite for next year when we can welcome you to Hampstead Garden Suburb as we relaunch our live events.”

Proms at Home

Proms at Home - Credit: Archant

Running from June 13 to July 4, the music programme includes a violin and piano recital by Braimah and Konya Kanneh-Mason - siblings of Royal Wedding cellist Sheku.

Also on the bill is the Aurora Orchestra with Dame Sarah Connolly and Andrew Staples performing Song of the Earth, and conductor Nicholas Collon giving a pre-concert talk.

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Jeremy Sassoon presents the music of great singer-pianists, and Patrick and Andrew Hawes will discuss Proms commission The Innocents, which marks the anniversary of the sinking of the SS City of Benares in September 1940.

Among the dead were 77 child refugees en route to Canada, and Michael Rennie the son of then St Jude’s vicar. VOCES8, who were set to perform the commission, will instead sing other work by Hawes.

The virtual LitFest offers the chance to hear speakers and ask questions afterwards, including renowned Irish chef and food writer Darina Allen in conversation with Sheila Dillon of Radio 4, and Ben Lewis, author and art-critic, discussing his latest book The Last Leonardo with art history lecturer Lucrezia Walker

Sisters Claire and Stephanie Calman will also be in conversation about mothers and teenagers with literature curator Claire Berliner

To entertain children in lockdown there is a Teeny Prom for children under 5, a live interactive ‘junk orchestra’ for under 11s, a Roald Dahl themed concert by the Magnard Ensemble, and a schools Prom which children can take part in from home.

For those living nearby, there is a treasure hunt and two walks based on the 1911 census in the suburb, which can either be taken from your armchair or using downloadable maps and a podcast.

Ms Gregson, who founded the community festival 27 years ago, added that the forced cancellation of this year’s live Proms had put their future in jeopardy and left them worrying about supporting their charities: “One of our supporters is so pleased that we are keeping the spirit of Proms going and raising money for our charities that they have agreed to cover all the costs of our on-line festival. Thanks to the generous response of longstanding supporters, we are now financially secure for 2020 and can start to plan for 2021.”

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