Ewan King: ‘Treat old hymns like jazz standards’
Published: 9 August, 2012
by DAN CARRIER
HE has earned a living playing piano at the exclusive private members’ club The Garrick, but now music lovers can hear the keyboard skills of Ewan King for free on Sunday mornings at Hampstead’s Heath Street Baptist Church.
Mr King took over as the new minister of the Victorian, redbrick church this week – and revealed that he is also a jazz musician with a mastery of the piano, mandolin, banjo and a host of other instruments. Before he studied theology, he played jazz and swing.
Now he plans to use his musical skills to reinterpret traditional hymns and offer jazz sessions at the church.
He said: “The point is to treat old hymns like jazz standards.
“Everyone has their own take on how they should be played. If you take a hymn that is 10 years old or 1,000 years old you can reinterpret it to make it more creative when you have musicians come together.”
His band – featuring piano, sax, trumpet, bass and percussion – will play on BBC Radio 4 in two weeks time.
Mr King studied English at Cambridge and then lived in Prague and Helsinki.
Having been brought up in the Baptist tradition, he decided to study theology at a Baptist college in Oxford.
After a period at the Hampstead church with another minister, the 34-year-old is now in charge.
As well as bringing people into the pews with his offering of jazz, he hopes to include children’s music sessions and offer a platform for Hampstead’s artistic heritage, which he believes has not been so widely celebrated in recent years.
He added: “This is a congregation that has dwindled over the years. There are not so many people coming on a Sunday. My ministry will all be about opening the doors of the church and making it welcoming.
“Hampstead is full of people with prams. Having children myself, I know the challenges of having children. This is something we’d like our church to offer help with.”