February 17, 2022
Wandsworth music charity World Heart Beat are getting ready to move into their new Nine Elms home in 2022 with a series of music session videos featuring young musicians celebrating the history of the area.
This video celebrates (what would be) Hilda Hewlett’s 158th birthday – the Vauxhall-born early aviator, aircraft manufacturer and flying instructor. Born on 17 February, 1864, Hilda was the first British woman to earn a pilot’s licence. She also ran a successful aircraft manufacturing business in Battersea (which built more than 800 aircraft during the First World War) as well as building the first flying school in the UK (Weybridge, Surrey). Hilda was an icon of her time, and loved all kinds of speed: bicycles, motorcars and airplanes.
In honour of Mardi Gras (or Carnival Tuesday), the Samba Parade celebrates the vibrant Latin communities living in and around ‘Little Portugal’, in South Lambeth. The video features Year 5 students from Griffin Primary School, Nine Elms who took part in weekly Latin samba workshops led by Brazilian percussionist, Xande Oliveira as well as headdress-making sessions using recycled materials with TARU Arts. The session culminates with an energetic and inspiring parade through the school and local Patmore and Carey Gardens estates.
This session highlights the importance of the River Thames and this section of London’s South Bank as a popular destination over the centuries for Irish settlers seeking long-term employment and seasonal work, particularly in the construction industry. Irish Property Developer EcoWorld Ballymore’s Embassy Gardens co-supported these sessions, and they are developing a new business and residential quarter which is also the location for World Heart Beat’s second venue.
The fourth session celebrates the UN’s International Day of Happiness (founded in 2012) to help people around the world realise the importance of joy and wellbeing in their lives. Young musicians take part in communal marimba playing of Sarura Wako, a traditional Zimbabwean children’s song with the direction of African band, Otto and the Mutapa Calling. This uplifting and vibrant session is filmed on Thessaly Road featuring the Happy Street railway bridge installation of brightly coloured panels designed by Yinka Ilori and commissioned by Wandsworth Council and the London Festival of Architecture.
‘My Generation’ plays homage to rock band The Who, who in the early 1970’s converted the old church on Thessaly Road into Ramport Studios specifically to record its Quadrophenia album.
It was also the recording studio of choice for other bands such as Supertramp (Crime of the Century) and Thin Lizzy (Jailbreak). My Generation was the song of the mid-60s rebellion and was all about finding a place in society, written for rebellious British youths known as ‘mods’. Written by The Who’s Pete Townshend on his 20th birthday, the video celebrates his 77th birthday.
The building is now a medical practice (corner of Thessaly Road and Corunna Road) with iconic murals by the late Battersea resident and artist Brian Barnes MBE, who campaigned in 2011 for a green plaque to commemorate this historical site of interest. This session is dedicated to the memory of Brian who died on 28 November, 2021, aged 77 years.
The Nine Elms Sessions series finishes with young Heart Beat talent performing Handel’s awe-inspiring The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, to coincide with the Queen’s Jubilee Weekend (marking the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s ascension to the throne). Musicians are seen performing the lively and ceremonial piece in and around Nine Elms landmarks, including the U.S Embassy, Battersea Power Station, New Covent Garden Flower Market, The Black Cab Coffee Co. (Riverlight Quay) as well as a sneak preview of the soon-to-open new music academy and concert hall space to open to the local community this summer, with its official launch in October 2022.