The History of Music Performance in Hastings
The Hastings Music Heritage Hub is a community website that explores the rich history of music performance in Hastings and St Leonards. It is free to use and members of the public are invited to add their own research and memories to the site and to comment on other people’s posts.
We created this site when we were researching the music history of the Robertson Street Congregational Church (RSCC), and we realised how important local church music traditions were to fostering a lively music culture in Hastings. From the 1850s to the 1970s, the RSCC provided a lot of free music education and performance and listening opportunities in Hastings. It ran choirs for all age groups, nurtured vocal and instrumental soloists, and hosted festivals, competitions, and free concerts. It was not alone in doing this; virtually all the churches of the era helped make music readily available to the public, especially to children.
This tradition of church musicianship enabled and fed into a wider, dynamic culture of music-making and enjoyment in Hastings. Gradually, as Hastings expanded as a fashionable seaside resort, it began to punch well above its weight as a home for fine music too, with many famous performers and conductors gracing both concert and altar platforms over the years. There was a lot of crossover and not many boundaries between sacred and secular music-making in the town.
We felt that this history deserved a better hearing and a bigger audience. We hope that in creating the music heritage hub, we will enable people to pool resources and research and maybe even take inspiration from it for the future musical life of our town.
We are grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for funding the development of the site and to Community Sites for their skill and care in building it for us. We hope it will entertain, inform, and inspire music lovers in Hastings and St Leonards for many years to come. Please visit it and add your own memories or information to the story.
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