Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Luke Styles composes new Foundling anthem

5:14, 7th January 2016

Luke Styles has composed a new Foundling anthem, more than 260 years after Handel’s original composition for the Foundling Hospital.

Intertwining baroque and contemporary musical influences, the Foundling Hospital Anthem sets excerpts from the Royal Charter of 1739 and the Gin Act of 1751 alongside poetry and letters written by foundlings and their mothers.

Styles is the museum’s first composer-in-residence since Handel’s involvement with the Foundling Hospital in the 18th century.

The composer worked with children from Argyle Primary School over the course of ten months, running composing workshops and incorporating their ideas into his work.

‘Composing this work has allowed me to delve into the rich emotional history of the Foundling Hospital and to explore the musical style of the Baroque. This has led me to a host of diverse and moving texts to shape my music around and to experiment with new musical aesthetics,’ the composer said.

Handel wrote his Foundling Hospital Anthem for a benefit concert in 1749. The composer borrowed music from a number of other works, including passages from his funeral anthem for Queen Caroline, the oratorio Susanna, and music by Lotti and Kuhnau; the work ended with the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from Messiah. 

The Foundling Museum Anthem will be performed by children from Argyle Primary School and La Nuova Musica on 8 February. Tickets cost £5 (£3 concessions).


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