The Buzz

August 2021

Stephen Wilkinson conducting at 90 in 2009, his last concert with the William Byrd Singers CREDIT: Stefan Schweiger

A message from Peter

Stephen Wilkinson MBE
We were all much saddened to learn that Stephen Wilkinson died on 10 August aged 102. He had been a significant musical figure nationally, not least through his work with the (alas now no longer) BBC Northern Singers, as recognised by his MBE. His enormous contribution to music-making for us at Benslow is marked both by his position as a Vice President of the Trust and the naming of an ensemble room (at Fieldfares) here. I have written to Delyth his widow and his daughter Clare (who continues the family tradition as a tutor here) to express condolences on behalf of us all.

More substantial obituaries can be found in The GuardianThe Daily Telegraph and the British Music Society.
Activities at Benslow Music
Thanks to the hard work of my colleagues here courses are up and running throughout the summer, hooray, and I’m again much enjoying the happy sounds which emerge from every corner of the site, seeing participants and tutors too whether returning or new. Chris has worked wonders in rescheduling as much of the backlog of courses and concerts as possible, introducing new courses too and is in the process of putting together exciting schedules for the first part of 2022. Please sign up yourselves, and continue to tell your ensemble, orchestral and choral colleagues about our work and encourage their attendance with (or without) you!
Our President, Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir, continues to champion music in diverse forms (see her always thoughtful, entertaining and well-illustrated blogs on her website), not least our activities. She had hoped to visit us on 10 August for performances of the excellent winning songs from this year’s Benslow Music Young Composers Competition during Sarah Leonard and Stephen Gutman’s recital, but a last minute rehearsal for a major new work intervened alas. However Judith is also to visit us in January for the formal opening of the new Benslow Music Loan Scheme (Aston) building, part of the 90th anniversary celebrations of the Scheme’s formation by Edith Croll and Editha Knocker (watch this space). How fortunate we are to have such an excellent ambassador for music as our President!

New colleagues on our staff team, as announced last month, are settling in well. It’s great to have them on board. Our chefs Michelle, Zoe and Tara who are all part-time continue to provide excellent food for all our visitors, with Tim and Alison (respectively our Director of Operations and his Assistant (Food and Beverages)) having to step in quite frequently at present when (expensive) agency staff are not available. I’m, we are, most grateful to them all. But, we do need one more chef to ease their burden. There is a national shortage and I hope a reader might know of someone, probably local, who’d be interested in applying to work in this congenial context – up to full time. Please let me know or contact
Looking forward
An important part of any organisation is working to an approved plan of activity, here overseen by our trustees. As we look forward to the centenary of the Rural Music Schools, (the precursors to Benslow Music Trust established by Mary Ibberson in 1929), work is advancing on a new Strategic Plan for Benslow Music (that is BM Trust, BM Instrument Loan Scheme and BM Enterprises together and separately) for 2022-24 and beyond.
Over this summer a group of trustees and senior staff are looking very carefully at the organisation’s mission, vision and purpose, our perceived strengths and weaknesses and how to address these most constructively (the opportunities and threats) in a contemporary context. During the autumn this will be presented to the full trustees’ Council for scrutiny and approval (or not). Fresh ideas are being put forward by recent trustee and staff appointees as well as by those more established here. Members, this could your chance too to have a say in where the organisation should go as we look ahead.
We may think we know what wonderful opportunities are already offered musically here to so many, the unique position that Benslow Music occupies, but we need constantly to re-examine and review our purpose. What is it? Are we fit for it? How can we best address the world of the third decade of the 21st century while retaining the best that Benslow Music stands for? What do and should we offer? What direction should we be heading in?
Then (importantly), how do we attract new, more, customers? How can we be more inclusive? How can we be both a (sufficiently) successful commercial enterprise whilst being a welcoming musical home-from-home? How can we improve music learning, structures, infrastructure and operations, governance, inclusion, income generation, communication?
Your thoughts expressed via course evaluation forms are always taken on board in any case, and if you feel you can contribute constructively to this process now too, using the headings listed as questions above, do get in touch with me very soon directly via and by the end of August at the latest please.

Good wishes to everyone,

Peter Hewitt
Chief Executive
Benslow Music Instrument Loans Scheme
We are very grateful to Peter Bussereau and Paul Turner for giving a wonderful concert on Sunday 22 August, including a rare performance of sonatas by Doreen Carwithen, in aid of the Instrument Loan Scheme.

We are currently planning of our 90th Anniversary in 2022 which will encompass the formal opening of our new building in January and a series of celebratory events throughout the year – more details to follow in due course.

Benslow Music Library

A message on behalf of the Librarian, Trustee Anne Conchie, BMT Chief Librarian
The Benslow Music Library, such a valuable resource for course members and a wonderful place to browse while on site, has continued to benefit from donations during the last months, including a significant amount of ensemble music from the late Christine Ring for which we are grateful. Items new to the collection, or in better condition than existing copies, are added to the catalogue by our volunteer librarians, duplicates then may be offered for sale or found appropriate homes.

Recently an item by Joseph Holbrooke with manuscript additions in the composer’s hand which had been in the Library for many years, and apparently never used, was bought by the British Library and will be replaced by a more modern copy. Also, items inherited from Anne Macnaghten’s collection and dedicated to her turned out to be of particular interest to another national library. Proceeds from these sales enable us to plug gaps in our collection with modern editions.
Are you aware of particular gaps in our collection? Is there anything you wish we had? Do you have suggestions for purchase? If so please contact
A call for Volunteers
If there is anyone living in easy reach of our site who feels they could offer some time to join the team of volunteers who run the library so helpfully – training available, ‘only ordinary computer skills needed’ – please let us know soon by contacting

2022 Residential Courses - Booking Dates

The first quarter of our 2022 programme of residential courses is available to view online - do take a look! Regular favourites and new highlights include: Mixed Chamber Music; Lutefest; Beethoven’s Cello Sonatas; FolkFest; Consort Singing and Original Sources: The Iberian Golden Age
Course Booking dates for your diary below:
January – March 2022 Courses
Booking for Members opens from 11am on Monday 23 August 2021
General Public bookings will open at 11am on Monday 20 September 2021
April to June 2022 Courses
Booking for Members opens at 11am on Monday 18 October 2021
General Public bookings will open at 11am on Monday 15 November 2021
Booking line: 01462 459446

Find Out More

New concerts have been added to our Autumn programme...

You can now book in-person and virtual tickets to our fantastic concert series!
We are excited that Joglaresa - early music group with a difference who take their inspiration from the 1270's rather than the 1970's! - will be joining us for a concert and livestream on 12 November 20:00 GMT

Explore our concert schedule »

New autumn courses have been added to our programme ...

String Orchestra Plus - 15-17 October with tutors Nic Fallowfield, Richard Muncey and Jenny Curtis

Boogie Knights with Joglaresa - 12 -14 November with tutors Belinda Sykes and Victoria Couper

Browse our courses »

The Importance of Being Oscar Wilde - A lunchtime talk with Tricia Thompson

Friday 1 October 2021, 13.00

“I have nothing to declare but my genius”.
Oscar Wilde needs no introduction; one of the best-known personalities of his day, famous for his wit, flamboyant dress, glittering conversation and for flouting the conventions of Victorian society. This talk will give a glimpse into the life of the extraordinary man that was Oscar Wilde.
The talk begins with a substantial buffet lunch (included in the in-person ticket price).
Book tickets

Exceptional times ...

Please click on the link to see the latest updates to our COVID-secure venue and measures 
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