What a birthday celebration!

Margaret’s birthday party
We enjoyed such an amazing party in honour of Margaret Archibald’s 70th birthday. Not only were we served a delicious dinner inspired by South African dishes, prepared by the wonderful Rory Baynes but we were also treated to some beautiful musical performances. Margaret herself, Julia Desbruslais and John Flinders opened the evening with Beethoven’s Trio Op. 11 which they had been playing last month in Care Homes for Everyone Matters. After the excitement of that piece, we had a lighter but just as entertaining piece set to the story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Troll. This was such a fun number that was really brought to life by Rob Archibald who narrated the story and Margaret, David Campbell and Peter Nichols, who represented the three Billy Goats Gruff on their B♭ clarinets and Ian Mitchell as The Troll on the bass clarinet. And then to finish off the first half of the evening was an absolutely incredible performance of Il Convegno by Ponchielli by Margaret, David Campbell and John Flinders. I think all the guests were in awe at their performance of such an amazing piece of music. After dinner and of course cake, Rob Archibald’s rap group entertained us, performing their numbers. It was certainly quite a contrast to the music at the start of the evening, but no less entertaining. My favourite is still definitely baked beans rap!

It was certainly quite the party and the perfect way to celebrate all that Margaret has achieved in her fulfilled life!   

Julia, Margaret and John perform Beethoven’s Trio Op. 11
Julia, Margaret and John perform Beethoven’s Trio Op. 11
The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Troll and the Narrator!
The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Troll and the Narrator!
Margaret, John and David performing Il Convegno
Margaret, John and David performing Il Convegno

Happy birthday Margaret!

Music Matters
We have had two more of our lecture recitals in this term’s series. They are always so interesting and so informative about aspects of music you never normally get to hear and learn about. This month, we were definitely treated to two amazing evenings of music!

Weber’s Quintet for Clarinet and Strings
Margaret didn’t draw breath after all her birthday activities but gave us a wonderful evening taking us through this beautiful Quintet with her friends Nicoline Kraamwinkel, Martin Smith, Michael Posner and Julia Desbruslais. Margaret has enjoyed the challenge of this piece since her school days, where she first started studying the clarinet. She found it no less of a challenge in her last month of being 69!

Not only did Margaret challenge herself with the repertoire, but she also challenged herself by putting together a slideshow to complement her exploration of the piece in the first half – no mean feat for a 69 year old and well done to Rob teaching her lots of new tricks! She managed expertly and entertained us all with snippets from the instruments and analogies to Mickey Mouse, the Lone Ranger and William Tell. 

Before we settled down to a wonderful performance of the quintet, we were treated to her 70th birthday cake, made and decorated by Julia and a glass of cava or elderflower!

It was lovely to see the Chapel packed as so many people came out to celebrate Margaret’s birthday once again.

And I’m sure it was a lovey end to the musicians’ day, as they had given a concert of the piece to the residents of Whitgift House earlier that day!  

Happy Birthday Margaret!
Happy Birthday Margaret!
A wonderful performance of Weber's Quintet for String and Clarinet by Margaret and her friends
A wonderful performance of Weber’s Quintet for String and Clarinet by Margaret and her friends
All that was left of Margaret's birthday cake!
All that was left of Margaret’s birthday cake!

Learning from the Past: Building the Future
Colin Lawson, Director of the Royal College of Music, gave us an enthralling talk about the history of the College and its astounding historical collection and performed different pieces on period clarinets and chalumeau. The chalumeau is a single reed instrument, used in the late Baroque and Classical period and one of the predecessors of the modern clarinet. 

Colin Lawson playing a classical boxwood clarinet

He started with Donizetti’s Study No. 1 – intriguingly named as he never got round to writing a second then we learnt a little about the Royal College of Music.

The College was bought in 1884 by the great grandfather of Edward Fox and was soon being left all kinds of objects. They now have the oldest known stringed keyboard in the world circa1480; the oldest guitar circa1581; Elgar’s tenor trombone which he largely taught himself to play; and a wonderful score of Mozart’s 1785 Piano Concerto where he had decided to write all the other instrument parts first. However, this meant he had to try and cram sixteen notes into a bar that was meant for just four – a complete mess and how the pianist ever read it is a thing of wonder. The museum re-opens in November.

With a finale of various pieces of music on period instruments taking us through the evolution of the clarinet we certainly had a memorable evening. The sounds these instruments make is captivating and wonderful to think we have a member of the Guild of Game Calling Devices to thank for the clarinet mouthpiece-its a wonder we don’t attract ducks from far and wide when we play!

Music Matters is a great way to learn more about music and to hear from some great professionals in this business. Tickets are £12 on the door (unless otherwise specified), and all money goes to running the series, or funding the many projects Everyone Matters runs throughout the year, offering music to the people that need it the most. They are every other Tuesday in The Chapel and Whitgift House, Croydon. More details can be found on the Music Matters page.


I’m looking forward to all March has in store for Everyone Matters. Follow us on Twitter, @EM_Charity, and Facebook, Everyone Matters, to get regular updates about all our work.


Alice Britton

Alice Britton is a former pupil of Margaret’s and has worked with Everyone Matters as a young musician for a few years, helping organise and give concerts with other young musicians in special needs schools and care homes. After learning about all the amazing work Margaret and Everyone Matters does, she wanted to help spread the word and so is now the Social Media Manager for the charity, running the Twitter and Facebook pages, and doing the monthly blog.

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