The Heath & Hampstead Society together with the City of London Corporation celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Hampstead Heath Act with a concert at the Bandstand on 5th September 2021.
The sun came out – along with several hundred spectators – to shine on a free concert calked ‘Natural Aspect’. Why that title? It is taken from the original wording of the Hampstead Heath Act 1871 whereby the Heath was to be preserved for ever more as an oasis with a “natural aspect”.
John Etheridge, legendary jazz guitarist, and jazz singer Vimala Rowe were the first on stage. John, often described as one of the finest guitarists in the world, is also a Hampstead local who has spent many years campaigning to protect the Heath. His renowned guitar playing accompanied Vimala in an eclectic selection of numbers ranging from a sublimely beautiful Sanskrit song dedicated to the goddess Saraswati – during which you could hear a pin drop (yes, even on the grass!) – to their original and rousing composition ‘Anthem to the Heath’.
Next up – Cosmo Sheldrake, who practically grew up on the Heath. A multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, his music has an ethereal quality about it – but at the same time is very much of the earth. We heard music he created and improvised built on the songs of birds and calls of animals, many recorded here on the Heath.
And as a rousing finale we were transported back in time by the band originally known as Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch, now in their present incarnation as the Beaky Band.
What a way to finish! Kids danced, older listeners clapped. Musicians and audience alike were enjoying themselves far too much for the scheduled 5pm finish. It was altogether a resounding success!
Who knows maybe these concerts might be repeated yearly – so here’s to celebrating the 151 st anniversary next year!