Ann Rachlin's Second Wednesday

Ann Rachlin speaking to Winchelsea's Second Wednesday group

More than sixty members and guests of the Second Wednesday Society braved some pretty bitter and scouring Sussex weather to attend their February meeting on Wednesday 14th at 2.30 in The New Hall, Winchelsea.
The attraction on this occasion was “Bells on Her Toes” an audio-visual autobiography of Ann Rachlin OBE , Storyteller and Music Educator
“Bells on Her Toes” chronicled a life that was essentially a paean to music.
Ann traced the evolution of Ann Lyttleton’s storytelling musical journey from her paternal great-grandfather in a Welsh mining community, through early, truncated education in Leeds and a Paris finishing school to marriage, motherhood and divorce in the sixties.
Pursuit of her children’s education in 1965 St John’s Wood led mother and son to St John’s Prep School where Ann Ziff further developed the child-friendly amalgam of story and music which had allowed her to take her own intrigued children to concerts and which would become “Fun with Music”®™.
The combination of music, story and location developed at The House on The Hill School in Hampstead gave rise to such delights as Handel’s Water Music experienced aboard a barge as “Once upon the Thames”, Beethoven’s Pastoral on a Picnic in the Countryside and Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals at Chessington Zoo.

Ann Rachlin and Iain Kerr

While embarked upon this part of the voyage Ann met the American pianist and conductor Ezra Rachlin. They married in 1969 and the journey took on an international dimension through music festivals and performances with major symphony orchestras in the UK, USA and Australia, employing a narrative device described as a ‘Concerto for Voice and Orchestra”. Ann was joined in 1978 by actor, musician and funny man Iain Kerr who after her husband’s death helped continue their work.
Ann Rachlin’s passion for music drove her desire to include profoundly deaf children through her charity The Beethoven Fund, now incorporated into the Elizabeth Foundation for Deaf Children.
Cynthia Feast, Chair of the Second Wednesday Society, thanked Ann on their behalf and elicited warm and prolonged applause.
Perhaps the best way to conclude is to give a small excerpt from Ann’s peroration,
“Music has given me so many wonderful experiences – so many cherished friends…..
Music has been an integral part of my life and it has brought me great happiness. – above all, it gave me Ezra – and Iain.
Music enhances our lives. It speaks to a special part of our brains. It is an essential…..
It soothes us when we are frustrated and angry, it keeps us company when we are lonely, it excites, it amuses; it comforts and calms. It is vital to our wellbeing.”

Photos: Gerard Reilly


  1. A wonderful and richly deserved tribute to Ann’s huge contribution to enhancing the lives have so many young people by encouraging their love of music in her inspirational and inimitable style.


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