Sandy Burnett

Musician Sandy Burnett kicks off Upper Room lectures with jazz talk

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Sandy Burnett playing with the Greg Davis Trio at the Chiswick Calendar Newsletter fourth birthday party. PICTURE: ANNA KUNST

For jazz musician and broadcaster Sandy Burnett, this year’s season of winter lectures at Shepherds Bush homeless charity Upper Room marks two significant anniversaries.

He opens the annual series of talks with a lecture on The Age of Jazz, a century after Britain was introduced to the musical genre following the arrival in April 1919 of a boat from the United States carrying the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.

So popular and influential were the band members that the same year they were the first performers on opening night at the legendary Hammersmith Palais.

“I’m passionate about public engagement with music,” said Sandy, 54, an Arts Society lecturer who has lived in Rylett Crescent in Shepherds Bush for more than 20 years, and who has been honoured with the title of Hogwood Fellow for the year by the Academy of Ancient Music.

Sandy Burnett
The Upper Room winter lectures start with Sandy Burnett’s on 31 January

Sandy’s talk, on the last evening of January, will take the audience on an illustrated tour of jazz from its origins to the Second World War.

It’s a subject he knows backwards, both as a speaker and as a bass player working with UK and American jazz greats.

As well as playing, he leads musical tours to New Orleans, writes extensively on jazz and classical music, presents programmes on Radio 3 and has worked as a youth orchestra coach and as a West End musical director (conducting more than 100 performances of Carousel).

One of his epic achievements has been to perform all of Bach’s cantatas – more than 200 pieces of music in total – in a series of concerts, many staged at St Michael’s & All Angels in Chiswick. The later concerts helped fund-raise for the Upper Room charity.

Glasgow-born Sandy, who is married to the artist Clare Burnett and has two grown-up children, said: “I currently spend about half my time playing jazz or classical, conducting and recording, and the other half talking about music.”

Winter lectures at Upper Room

The winter lectures start with Sandy’s on 31 January and continue on 28 February with Matthew Morgan’s talk on Rubens, concluding on 28 March with Sian Alexander’s lecture about the Lyric theatre in Hammersmith.

Entry is free (donations welcome), doors open at 7.30pm and seats can be reserved by emailing: uradmin@theupperroom.org.uk.

The annual Upper Room talks raise the profile of a charity which provides 25,000 meals a year to homeless people in west London.

The charity – which is based at St Saviour’s Church in Wendell Park – works to give them a second chance and help them become economically independent. 

Past speakers have included Lord Dubs, the Rt Rev Graham Tomlin, Lord Willetts, Matthew Price, Matthew Morgan and Misha Glenny.

For more details about the Upper Room, visit: www.theupperroom.org.uk.

Read more:

Shepherds Bush charity Upper Room welcomes new boss

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