Music-at-Hill is a concert society based at the Wren church of St Mary-at-Hill in the City of London. It is twinned with the Tilford Bach Society based in Farnham, Godalming and Tilford. Many of the Society’s concerts use period instruments.
The Bellot Ensemble, a flexible group of specialist Baroque musicians, was appointed as ensemble in residence for Music-at-Hill in April 2017.
Music-at-Hill, formerly St Anne’s Music Society, is a registered charity (Charity Commission Number 266570). It changed its name following its move to St Mary-at-Hill in summer 2013.
The Society began life back in the 1970s as an outreach ministry of the Lutheran congregation based at St Anne & Agnes Church in Gresham Street (another Wren church near St Paul’s Cathedral). It owes its founding vision to the then Pastor, Rev Ronald Englund, and was built up into a thriving beacon of music-making by its first Cantor and Director of Music, Peter Lea-Cox. In its heyday, lunchtime concerts happened at least twice a week and often attracted audiences of 100 or more.
Following Peter-Lea Cox’s retirement, the Society was successfully run by his successor as Cantor, Martin Knizia, for around a decade. Towards the end of this period the Lutheran Congregation and the Music Society were obliged to look for a new home when the lease on St Anne & Agnes expired and the Church of England took that building back for other purposes. Together, they moved their operations to St Mary-at-Hill, but whilst they still co-operate closely and indeed share the same building, they decided to go their own separate ways for practical purposes. Hence, Music-at-Hill now operates as a freestanding concert society, constitutionally and financially separate from the Lutheran congregation. The latter have a Cantor who oversees their liturgical music, while the society appoints its own Artistic Director to run its concert activities.
The current Chairman is Rev Andy Roland (email <email@example.com>), and the Artistic Director and Administrator is Stuart Whatton (email <firstname.lastname@example.org>).
These days, the Society’s core activity is its Friday lunchtime concert series, and it oversees a special Bach Festival every July (a tradition which has been maintained since 1996). We welcome regular supporters, as well as local office workers, tourists and visitors, to our Friday concerts, which are given by a variety of performers, both soloists and duos, instrumental ensembles and occasionally choirs. Whilst this operates as a general chamber music series, we have built up a particular reputation for our Baroque and early music programming, aided by the fact that we have a resident harpsichord and chamber organ to call upon! The music generally runs from 1.05 pm for about 45 minutes. Coffee and biscuits are served before and after every concert, and you can be assured of a warm welcome and the opportunity of a chat with the artists and with other music-lovers!
Formal membership of the Society is available, and annual subscriptions are £25 (or £40 for family membership).
St Mary-at-Hill is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church which focuses on weekday worship and activities, while St Anne’s Lutheran Church conducts regular worship in the building on Sundays. In this way, the church can be successfully shared by both congregations.
Evening services of Bach Vespers are held most months on the last Sunday of the month, thanks to the professional musical input of the City Bach Collective. This is a Lutheran worship service which includes a Bach cantata and other sacred music of the period, and gives you an idea of what you might have experienced at J S Bach’s own church back in the 18th century. More information about Bach Vespers is available on the City Bach Collective’s website.