Historic Boughton Concert

11th July, 2014

Boughton House is set to welcome an acclaimed South African youth ensemble for a rare British performance.

Named by Gramophone Magazine “one of the world’s top ten most inspirational orchestras[i]”, the Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble will play to a sold-out audience at the home of the Duke of Buccleuch on July 13, in a performance which will feature the world premiere of a new composition, created especially for the event.

As well as music ranging from Bach to Bloch and township kwelas, the group will play Sancho’s Dance Mix, an arrangement by English composer Julian Grant of music written in the 18th century by Ignatius Sancho, a eighteenth century British African composer. The music is drawn from a set of dances dedicated by Sancho to his benefactor Lord Montagu of Boughton in 1770.

It is believed Sancho was born on a slave ship and spent his childhood in slavery in Greenwich, before being rescued, educated and employed by the Montagu family. A bequest from the Montagu Estate enabled him to set up his own business and he became the first British African to vote in British parliamentary elections, have his music published and own a shop.

Paul Boucher, music coordinator at Boughton House, said: “We’re looking forward to playing host to this historic occasion and hearing Sancho’s music brought back to life after 250 years. Not only will this be a joyous occasion, as we welcome Buskaid to Boughton, but a very poignant one, as we hear echoes of an extraordinary man.”

Rosemary Nalden, who founded the Buskaid project in 1992, when she organised a simultaneous fundraising busk in London stations for young musicians from Soweto townships, added: “Speaking on behalf of the 28 young Buskaid musicians from Soweto who will be performing at Boughton House on 13 July, I must say that there is huge excitement at the prospect of playing in such a beautiful room at such a prestigious venue.

“Moreover many of them met the Duke and Duchess, when they paid us a very special visit to our Music School in Soweto some weeks ago. Their warmth and genuine interest in our students was much appreciated, They, in turn, enjoyed an impromptu performance of South Africa Township Kwela, so this will feature in our concert at Boughton House.”

Introducing the upcoming special performance in the composer’s honour will be Sancho scholar Dr Brycchan Carey.

Boughton House is home to a portion of the Buccleuch art, music, objets d’art and armoury collection; one of the finest collections in private hands.  The House and gardens open to the public during the month of August.

[i] Gramophone Magazine, 2009