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The museum is a treasure of London's heritage that celebrates the 18th century charitable initiative of Thomas Coram that has since flourished into an international organisation for children's welfare. The museum itself boasts a wonderful exhibit about the charity's main founder-benefactors, Coram, Hogarth and Handel, and has a musical attraction in its Handel Room, and accompanying library collection of valuable manuscripts and early editions. However, concerts in the house have only been sporadic until the series was conceived by one of the Voces8 singers, Paul Smith, to feature vocal and instrumental concerts on Thursday lunchtimes throughout the year.

The venue itself has elegance, taste and fine art as its defining features, a room adorned with portraits of distinguished patrons and benefactors. Indeed during the first half of the programme, a whistlestop tour through four hundred years of English polyphony from Tallis to Parry, with just one Italian visitor, Lotti, the aristocratic and royal faces in famous portraits by Joshua Reynolds and contemporaries seemed to gaze on the proceedings with dreamy serenity. In the jazzy second half, by contrast their faces decisively brightened up and beamed from their golden brocade frames.

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Copyright © 25 February 2006 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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