Lucy Thraves, a recent Music graduate from Christ Church college, is one who understands how the pressures and prejudices of life at Oxford can affect students. While the mishandling of mental health issues among the student body is now something of an open secret, thanks to numerous brave articles published in The Tab, Cherwell, and The Oxstu, continuing accounts of archaic attitudes from tutors and doctors suggest there’s still a long way to go.
In conversation with me last Friday, Lucy confided how dealing with her own struggles, as well as witnessing those of friends, inspired her to try to confront the mental health crisis in any way she could: In addition to her current training for The London Marathon, she’s undertaken to host an evening of musical delights in her home college to raise money for The Mental Health Foundation, a charity devoted to improving the lives of the mentally ill.
At 8pm on Friday of 5th week, £10 will get you entry into the lavish Christchurch Cathedral for a night of fantastic musical entertainment. Once there, I’m assured you’ll be met with endless refreshments, including wine and home-made cakes. An exciting musical programme of (mostly) student talent will then unfold: Starting with classical music, piano trios and soloists will open the show. Here, the precise lineup is kept under wraps, but Lucy indicates that further string performances are to be announced.
A shift in focus will then follow, taking the audience on a pop odyssey through the rest of the night. Jake Downs is perhaps the star of the lineup – A former Music Editor at The Oxstu no less, and now pursuing a career as a musician and academic, this multi-instrumentalist and singer released his debut album Fracture in December. Downs’ classical training allows him to pull off elegant fusions of diverse genres from pop and folk to post-rock and EDM, and Lucy likens his musical style to ‘a combination between Kate Bush and Antony and the Johnsons’.
Singer-songwriter Esme Neale is sure to be another highlight. Following in the folk tradition, Neale pairs stunning vocal performances with simple strumming on an acoustic guitar, conveying real honesty and sensitivity through her original lyrics. Many will be glad to recognise Neale from her recent performances at Gin & Phonics and at The Cellar, opening for Rhys Lewis.
With a lofty aim to raise £1700 for The Mental Health Foundation, Lucy speaks quietly but confidently. Her dedication is extremely impressive, and the entire £10 ticket cost will go to The Mental Health Foundation, leaving herself to pick up the tab for refreshments. There is also a hint that she might contribute to the night in other ways too – she is endearingly embarrassed to discuss the possibility of her own performance on the night, but ultimately leaves the question open. You’ll have to watch this space.
In all, Music For Mental Health looks like it will be a fabulously fun evening – £10 might seem a little steep, but Lucy’s rare commitment to her cause means that it will surely be worth the investment. Stay tuned for further lineup announcements!