A History of Music & Wine at St Luke’s

Music & Wine at St Luke’s  (2nd Sept 2017)

Since the church purchased the Steinway piano in the 1990s it has hosted occasional concerts.  As a local resident who had performed there, Rachel Fryer decided to work with the church and began a regular series in 2007.  The first concert was attended by just 1 person plus 2 on the door and refreshments!  There was no heating so concerts only took place in the summer months.  A committee was formed in 2011 and heating was installed in 2012, meaning concerts could go on throughout the year.

The aim of the series is to bring live music, primarily classical, to the local and wider community, making it as accessible as possible and providing a friendly atmosphere.  In 2012 Music & Wine at St Luke’s was the recipient of the council’s annual Hedgecock Bequest fund, enabling it to host workshops in local schools and to bring in larger ensembles for that year.

Last year, in 2016, we decided that work was needed on our beautiful Steinway.  The strings needed replacing, there were cracks in the soundboard and the action needed work. We decided to engage Clive Ackroyd, a Steinway specialist, to do the work and we needed to raise £10,000.

We had collection buckets at every concert from April 2016 and organised two large fundraisers.  The first engaged young pianists from the Brighton & Hove area in the afternoon to give a concert and local professional pianists in the evening.  The second was an epic 21-hour performance of Eric Satie’s Vexations, involving 36 pianists.

The money raised at our two fundraising concerts, combined with our crowdfunding appeal, enabled us to meet our £10,000 target and we were able to afford the best possible restoration for the instrument.  The sheer numbers involved, both performers and audience, helped us build a broad base for our campaign, but perhaps more importantly we also generated truly mesmerising and unforgettable concerts.  We are hugely grateful to all our volunteers as well as everyone that donated in these magical few months.  The piano was taken away in September 2016 and returned in early January 2017. The difference in sound is really noticeable.

Here are some photos of the piano in its restoration stages for your interest.

St Luke's SteinwaySt Luke's Steinway 2

Rachel Fryer,  Concert Director, Music & Wine at St. Luke’s