Make a lunch date with ‘Soundbites’ at Holy Trinity

Pianist Peggy Wu gets ready for the first Soundbites concert of the year. Pictured with Director of Music, Benedict Wilson, and Friends of Music Chair, Josephine Walker. Photo: Mark Williamson H7/2/19/3150

Heavenly sounds in a holy setting are on offer at a series of free lunchtime concerts in Stratford.

This year’s popular ‘Soundbites’ concerts kicked off at Holy Trinity last month with a recital by pianist Peggy Wu, who is currently studying at the Royal College of Music.

Benedict Wilson, Director of Music at Holy Trinity, explains the philosophy behind the concerts. “We want to encourage a wide variety of different music-making types in the church. The point of Soundbites is that people can pop in — away from work or whatever — and grab some lunch and listen to half an hour of music.

“Each week is really different. There’s a variety of musical styles and instruments and people who come from around the world to play; it’s that kind of musical breath that we want to explore. We’ve welcomed everyone from ukulele groups to solo pianists and violists and amazing ensembles. But we also have pupils from King Edward VI School (KES) come a couple of times a year to play and it’s great to hear them and for them to have that experience.”

Soundbites started in May 2014, the brainchild of Rohan Stewart MacDonald, the former chair of the Friends of Music at Holy Trinity Church, who died tragically in December 2017.

His dynamic approach to programming is being carried on by Rebecca Mills, who continues to forge links with the UK’s top music colleges and conservatoires.

Benedict is happy to stress that you don’t have to be a churchgoer or music buff to enjoy the concerts. “Everyone is welcome to just come here for half an hour and listen to wonderful music — it’s a beautiful space, it’s a chance to switch off and let your imagination run wild.”

Also lending her support is current Chair of the Friends of Music, Josephine Walker, who says that Soundbites is increasingly popular with 80 to 100 people regularly attending each free concert (although donations are welcome), and where delicious sandwiches and refreshments are offered at very affordable prices. Josephine says: “We are always delighted to provide a welcoming audience for the young musicians, including those from KES, as well as for more established players. Soundbites audiences are always appreciative, and the performers often express their delight at their reception.”

When and where: Soundbites is held every Wednesday at 1pm at Holy Trinity. This month’s performers include: 13th March, Andrew Harsley (cello, Royal College of Music); 20th March, choir Omnium Gatherum; 27th March, Laurens Macklon and Benedict Wilson (baritone and piano).