Luke Styles was the Museum’s first ever Composer-in-Residence since Handel’s involvement with the Foundling Hospital in the eighteenth century. Taking inspiration from Handel’s original anthem for the Hospital, written and first performed in 1749, the work fuses baroque and contemporary musical styles. Written for children from Argyle Primary School and early music ensemble La Nuova Musica, the work drew on Styles’ research into the Hospital’s archives, finding voice through poetry and letters written by foundlings and their mothers.
The anthem uses sung selections of text from two pieces of eighteenth-century legislation, which had profound effects on the Hospital – the Royal Charter presented to Thomas Coram in 1739 enabling the establishment of the Foundling Hospital, and the Gin Act of 1751. During his 10-month residency, Styles worked closely with students from Argyle Primary School, running composing workshops and incorporating the students’ work into his composition. Alongside these workshops the children learnt different sections of Styles’ new anthem, performing these alongside early music ensemble La Nuova Musica at the Museum in 2016.