Mercers' Company Concert

Thursday 13th October 2016

Mercers' Hall is a bit like the Tardis - the modest frontage cannot convey the size and magnificence of the salons beyond. This lovely hall is in its third incarnation since they were founded around 1300, the others burned and blitzed as we hear so commonly. This one was completed by 1958 in neo-Georgian manner and I hope will last a longer than its forebears. Our No.1 Company supports musical scholarships at both of the St. Paul's Schools and this annual event showcases some of their most talented girls and boys. Before we got to that however, we were generously hosted with a champagne reception and, as one might imagine, it was a capacity event - Masters responding late were politely declined, so take note all ye who expect to serve as one. Several newly installed Masters were making debut appearances, and we were also saying goodbye to some - the last night of Office for the Master Currier, but the first for Master Constructor, and so it goes on. A little before 7pm we were summoned to another large chamber where seats were organised in a gentle horseshoe around a piano and chairs. After welcomes and introductions by Master John Robertson, young Ned Ashcroft (16) lead the evening with a plucky but obscure piece for trumpet by Johann Neruda, who I didn't know, but who was a contemporary of Johann Nepomuk Hummel, whom I do, and very jolly it was too. This was followed by a selection of good exhibition pieces by Liszt, Dvorack, Mendelssohn, and just in case you though it was all too safe, a modern piano trio by Rebecca Clarke provided a pleasant dissonant contrast. The whole thing was rounded off near 8pm by a spirited rendition of the Rondeau-Allegro (3rd movt) from Mozarts oboe concerto and then, applause done, we were invited to an informal, but seated supper in their large, double dining room where fillet of beef was washed down with Berry's Good Ordinary Claret - all very satisfactory, and no speeches or toasts either. Dinner done we took advantage to admire some of the Mercers pictures - a lovely rendition of Dick Whittington - Mercer of course, and Lord Mayor three times, and a colossal long case clock with green japanning. I was lucky enough to have a quick chat with young Ned who I am sure will succeed handsomely with his trumpet if he pursues it. Thank you Mercers for a lovely evening.