Investec Opera Holland Park (OHP) marked one year since the tragic Grenfell fire with the Hope for Grenfell Memorial Gala on Wednesday, 13 June. The concert was given in memory of Debbie Lamprell, a much-loved member of OHP’s staff who was lost in the disaster, and all the fire’s victims. All proceeds will be donated to the Rugby Portobello Trust (RPT) and the final total is still being calculated, but it is hoped to exceed £100k.
Gareth Malone directed a community choir of almost 200 schoolchildren and local residents, in a new work for the occasion by Will Todd and Gareth Malone, Help Me Believe. This powerful new song was created from workshops with members of the Grenfell community and OHP’s Inspire Project, giving the community the chance to commemorate those they have lost, and bringing them together in personal reflections. Another of Will Todd’s popular works, Amazing Grace, was performed in a new full orchestral arrangement dedicated to Debbie Lamprell.
Children affected by the Grenfell tragedy offered moving reflections, with introductions and support from the actors Jim Carter, Celia Imrie, Imelda Staunton and Dame Penelope Wilton, with Sir Trevor McDonald introducing the evening and Penny Smith interviewing performers on stage. Tobi-King Bakare and Reda Elazouar, two teenagers from the Grenfell community, performed their own spoken word piece ‘Someone Please Explain’, written especially for the concert.
The concert also featured scenes from OHP’s current season productions of La traviata and Così fan tutte, performed by their full casts, as well as popular arias from a wide range of other operas. Guests from across the operatic world included Peter Auty, Stephen Aviss, Cheryl Barker, Nadine Benjamin, Lee Bisset, Michael Bradley, Susan Bullock, David Butt Philip, Peter Coleman-Wright, Eleanor Dennis, Anne Sophie Duprels, Lauren Fagan, Stephen Gadd, Ben Johnson, Henry Grant Kerswell, Nicholas Lester, Elizabeth Llewellyn, Anna Patalong, Hannah Pedley, Nick Pritchard, Gweneth-Ann Rand, Natalya Romaniw, Nicky Spence, David Stephenson, Sarah Tynan, Kitty Whately, Laura Woods and Fflur Wyn. Matthew Kofi Waldren, Dane Lam and Peter Robinson conducted OHP’s resident orchestra the City of London Sinfonia and the OHP chorus.
A number of North Kensington residents attended, as well as relatives of the victims, including Debbie Lamprell’s mother. Debbie worked at OHP as a fire officer for many years and was a dedicated member of the front-of-house team. She was well known to all the OHP family and was a friendly and reassuring presence at performances. A stone has been inscribed in her memory at the theatre, in the spot where she loved sitting and listening.
In 2017, a performance of Verdi’s Requiem just a few weeks after the Grenfell fire sold out in 36 hours and raised a total of £41k for the RPT to support victims. OHP has a long association with this charity, which works within North Kensington. Funds raised by this year’s memorial concert will enable more than 100 children and young people from the community to attend ‘residential’ trips, week-long visits to the coast and countryside, which allow them to try new activities and escape the pressures of everyday life. Often the breaks are the first time that these young people will have left their immediate concrete surroundings. The impact of these trips is proven to be especially long-lasting, boosting the confidence of young people by equipping them with new skills, as well as fostering a safe environment in which to address any emotional issues.
OHP is extremely grateful to Hamish and Sophie Forsyth, Christopher and Jo Holdsworth-Hunt, and The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation for their generous support of the Hope for Grenfell Gala.
Donate to the Hope for Grenfell Gala appeal for the RPT here: http://www.rugbyportobello.org.uk/donate.php