Spitalfields Music

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Spitalfields Music
Frequency twice annually
Location(s) Spitalfields
Inaugurated 1976

Spitalfields Music (previously known as Spitalfields Festival, officially registered as Spitalfields Festival Ltd) is a music charity based in the Spitalfields area of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The charity aims to strengthen the local community through musical events.[1] Spitalfields Music is a registered charity number 1052043.

The charity's work consists of two annual music festivals, Spitalfields Music Summer Festival (normally held in June) and Spitalfields Music Winter Festival (normally held in December) and a "Learning & Participation" programme which undertakes projects throughout the year with participants drawn from across the Tower Hamlets community.


  • 1976 - Spitalfields Festival was created when a single event, organised by Save Britain's Heritage, was held at Christ Church in Spitalfields in the summer.[2]
  • 1977 - In the summer the first official festival occurred. It was run by Friends of Christ Church, which had been formed the previous year after the single event had been held.
  • 1989 - The Festival Council was formed and more importantly so was the Education and Community Programme.
  • 1996 - The decision was taken to expand the festival to incorporate a Winter Festival.
  • 2003 - Christ Church was unavailable due to renovation works so the festival was spread around 13 venues.[3]
  • 2005 - Winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for Education from Spitalfields Festival commission of Jonathan Dove's community cantata On Spital Fields.[4]
  • 2006 - Winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for Concert Series or Festival.[5]


Summer 2009[edit]

This festival took place between 7–19 June 2009. It featured a variety of music and events ranging from contemporary and early classical music to walks exploring the area and events designed for the whole family. Finn Peters opened the festival followed by Gwilym Simcock, Yuri Goulbev and James Maddren, and closed by Dan Stern and Robert Mitchell.[6] Highlights included The Schubert Ensemble, Caius Consort, Tallis Scholars, Walks around Spitalfields, Whitechapel and other parts of the East End of London.[7]

Winter Performances 2009[edit]

This festival or Winter Performances took place between 9–12 December.[8] Highlights included[9] Women sing East, Stile Antico and Go Spitalfields! which was done in partnership with The Go Game.[10]

Learning and Participation Programme[edit]

Since the founding of the education programme in 1989 the work that Spitalfields Music does with the community of Tower Hamlets and grown considerably. It was an early pioneer in the field of arts festival education programmes in the UK. In 2008 the programme involved 15,000 participants and comprised over 200 workshops and over 70 showings or performances. These took place in schools, hospitals, arts and community centres and in the streets of the borough. Around 70% of the community work undertaken by the organisation is within schools and other formal education fields. The remaining 30% is work in the broader community.

The programme works closely with a number of special education needs schools in the borough including Cherry Trees,[11] Phoenix School[12] and Aspirations (based in Tower Hamlets college[13]) to bring music to those who wish to pursue it as a career.

Women sing East[edit]

Part of the Learning and Participation Programme is Spitalfields' very own all female choir, Women sing East. The choir is led by Jazz singer Laka D. The courses operate on a termly basis when they meet weekly. At the end of every term they hold a public performance including jazz, soul and popular songs.

Music Animateur Apprentice Scheme (MAAS)[edit]

The Music Animateur Apprentice Scheme was created by Spitalfields Music for musicians and composers who are keen to develop their skills in workshop leading through practical and theoretical experience. Each apprentice will operate alongside professional animateurs on projects throughout the year. The musicians are mentored by a team of experienced composers and animateurs who include Julian West, John Barber, Sam Glazer and Laka D.

Spitalfields Music also offers the MAAS's the opportunity to work towards and accreditation of a PG Certificate in Community Music from Roehampton University.


Spitalfields Music is a charity and relies on grants, sponsorships, in kind help and donations to help run the two annual festivals and the Learning and Participation Programme.[14] They receive financial support from trusts, foundations, corporate giving, public funding and individual giving. They also earn a small percentage of their income from ticket sales from their two annual festivals.


External links[edit]