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25 Sept 2022

‘Beautiful’ organist duet with railway station guard began with national anthem

‘Beautiful’ organist duet with railway station guard began with national anthem

A renowned organist whose duet with a passing security guard at a London railway station went viral has revealed the “beautiful” musical moment lasted for hours and began with the new national anthem.

Anna Lapwood, the director of music at Pembroke College, Cambridge, stopped to play the organ at London Bridge station on Sunday when she was approached by a security guard called Marcella, who revealed she was a classically trained singer.

The pair originally performed the national anthem, God Save The King, and then at the request of Marcella, Ms Lapwood launched into a rendition of Lascia ch’io pianga by Handel.

Ms Lapwood, 27, told the PA news agency: “I just thought that providing the musical accompaniment to people’s grief, even for five minutes, might be a positive thing.

“It was lovely because I think I played for about three hours in total in the end, which I was not planning at all.

“Sometimes it was just me and sometimes it was a really big crowd, like when Marcella was singing.

“And everyone joined in with the national anthem at one point and it felt like a lovely way to help people and give them what they needed at that point in time- even if they didn’t realise they needed it.”

Ms Lapwood posted a clip of her duet with Marcella on Twitter on Sunday night and the video quickly went viral, racking up over three million views.

“Marcella told me that she’d had some training in the past and used to be a church organist as well,” Ms Lapwood said.

“She asked if I knew this song by Handel and by complete coincidence I had it on my iPad from a duet I had done with someone else last week.

“It was then that you really heard her voice open up and come to life.

“People started clapping and it was just so beautiful.”

Ms Lapwood is now attempting to find Marcella in the hope that the success of the video will encourage her to perform again.

“People seem to be really finding this very moving and enjoying it,” she said.

“I was so happy for (Marcella) because I feel like she’s got such a beautiful voice and clearly has had training in the past.

“Hopefully she sees how much people have loved and enjoyed it, and it encourages her to perhaps take up singing again.”

The Queen’s state funeral will take place on Monday September 19.

For Ms Lapwood, being able to publicly perform a tribute to the Queen, who passed away aged 96 on Thursday, was a way for her to process her grief.

“I think grief is such a personal thing and we’re all experiencing very personal grief at the moment but for a very public figure,” Ms Lapwood said.

“I don’t think we know quite what we should be doing or even how upset we should be feeling.

“I was in the station, and I just saw all these people walking with flowers and things like that, and you realise that this really is a very public thing.

“As musicians, we live our entire lives through the lens of music.

“So if we’re grieving music is the thing we turn to.”

Rosie Brooks, 42, told the PA news agency that she had been walking through London Bridge station on her way to Borough Market on Sunday at 2pm when she heard music from “across the concourse”.

Ms Brooks said that “quite a few people were gathered by the end” and that the performers both seemed “totally engrossed in the music”.

“It was such an uplifting moment, very needed at the moment,” the illustrator who specialises in music added.

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