The Buzz

May 2021

A message from Peter

We were thrilled to welcome course members back to our lovely site on Monday 17 May. What a joyous day it was! Housekeepers and catering staff have been working hard to make sure that everything’s shipshape, safe and ready for your return. Admin colleagues have been no less assiduous in their preparation. My thanks on your behalf to them all. Now it’s over to you – do book in for your next visit(s) if you haven’t already done so. Be assured that for your, and for staff, safety we will be keeping strictly to hygiene guidelines as issued by government.

We were concerned to read in the latest Performing Arts guidance published on 18 May that amateur singing indoors is now restricted to a single group of up to 6 people. This will therefore sadly affect our upcoming vocal and choral residential courses. We are sorry to have such disappointing news and will be in touch with affected course participants and tutors as soon as possible with updates.

It was very disappointing that, despite best effort being made in applying, Benslow Music did not receive a grant under the Arts Council England Cultural Recovery Fund round 2. The letter informing us of this decision says: We felt the application did not clearly outline how this grant will be used to support your cultural operation in a way that represents value for money. Reviewing this decision suggests a number of ways forward which are under close consideration, particularly as we continue to think about appropriate ways to celebrate our centenary in 2029 – do please let me have your ideas on this.

That Benslow Music has survived to this point is due to the incredible generosity of you our well-wishers, to whom what we provide means so much. Our online courses and livestreamed concerts keep our ‘brand’ alive – credit to Chris and his team for all they do in this regard – but it is the live music-making together that is so important to us all and to society in general (let’s not get started on the proposal to cut funding for HE in the creative arts and other subjects by 50%) and so all the more reason to sign up for the tremendous course programme on offer here. We so look forward to seeing you again.

This month we welcome Etta Dainty who has joined the staff as Head of the Benslow Music Instrument Loan Scheme, and Mark Woodward as part of the catering team. We wish both much joy here – I’m sure you’ll enjoy meeting them.

For some years the boilers in the main house have been giving us trouble, usually quite speedily and easily resolved. But they have now reached (arguably well beyond) the end of their natural lives so Council has agreed that we go ahead. Preliminary work will commence on the hot water element during next month, scheduled to avoid course activity, and there will be a period of about a fortnight over the (early/mid) summer when there’ll be no heating (and I hope none needed).

Members’ matters
Benslow Music’s Council of Trustees met on 8 May both to check and comment on what has been done, to focus on the months (and years) ahead and to consider the 2020 Annual Report and Accounts. Our over 950 wonderful Members will have the opportunity to receive and vote on Benslow Music’s Report at the AGM, to which all Members are cordially invited on 26 June at 2.30pm, thus to take an active part in the governance of the Trust. Given current uncertainties that meeting will be held virtually and I encourage (fellow-) Members to put the date/time in your diaries now. Formal Notice will be sent electronically early next month.  If you would like to receive a hard copy (to be printed in-house), please contact us.

Thinking of trustees I am sure all will want to send greetings and good wishes to Michael Taylor, long-standing trustee and Vice Chairman as he recovers from a broken hip. The window for trustee nominations is still open (just): please let me know if this interests you and I will take things forward.

I can’t conclude this article without paying a heartfelt tribute to my colleague Alison Palmer who retires from her role as General Manager of our Loan Scheme at the end of this month. Over the last twelve years and more under her direction she has consolidated and expanded the Scheme confirming it as the market leader it is today. Moreover she has proved an invaluable associate and a valued friend both personally and to the wider Benslow Music community. Thank you Alison, and our very best wishes for a long, happy and fulfilling retirement (I know you won’t be inactive!).

Good wishes to everyone – and keep practising!

Peter Hewitt
Chief Executive

We are open!

We are delighted to be resuming residential courses and welcoming audiences back for concerts. 

Find out more about our COVID-secure venue and measures »

Watch a concert...

You can now book in-person and virtual tickets to our fantastic concert series!

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Book a course...

Whether your musical taste is for classical, jazz, popular, or folk, we have a day, residential or online music course for you!

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Listen to a talk...

If you are new to Benslow Music this may be the perfect introduction and if you are attending a residential course starting the same day, this may be a chance to extend your stay.

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Over the past year, Benslow Music has become a truly international venture. We’ve presented over 150 online music courses, 35 streamed concerts and we have reached music lovers from all seven continents across the globe – putting Hitchin firmly on the map!

Thank you to all our guests, tutors and staff for your continued support – we would not have been able to do this without you. We can’t wait to see you back here making music!

Dr Christopher Roberts
Head of Music

2021 Residential Courses - Booking Dates

July to September 2021 Courses
Booking for Members and Non-Members is currently open

October to December 2021 Courses
Booking for Members is currently open
Online and Non-Member bookings will open at 9am on Friday 18 June 2021

Find Out More

The Benslow Music Forum

Chaired by Lucinda Mackworth-Young, pianist, psychologist, and renowned International Director of The Piano Teachers’ Course UK, this lunchtime hour is for all musicians, performers, teachers and amateurs to gather together to share expertise and solve problems. 

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Add to your music library...

Browse our latest selection of music and books for sale.

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Browse our hub of educational materials and resources to purchase, including webinars by Lucinda Mackworth-Young and Alison Crum.

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From lunchtime talks, afternoon tea, escape room games to workshops, we have something for you...

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A message from Etta

Over at the Instrument Loan Scheme we’ve been delighted to welcome back in-person visitors since 12 April, and the flurry of activity has been extremely refreshing! Many borrowers have now had the opportunity to return instruments to us allowing them to move on to pastures new of playing, and perhaps most excitingly we have also been able to restart appointments for new borrowers (and borrowers upgrading their instrument) getting us back to what we do best – helping young musicians of all backgrounds achieve their musical goals and dreams. We are also hugely grateful for new instruments we have received over the last few months from some very generous donors, which will further increase our lending capacity.
This month we very sadly lose the inimitable Alison Palmer to her well-deserved retirement, and her legacy will be a tough act to follow! Throughout the short time I have spent with Alison while she hands over the ropes I have been struck by her dedication, knowledge, energy, and humanity, and over the course of her leadership it is clear she has made a great difference to hundreds of young musicians’ lives and been a thorough joy to work with. She will be sorely missed!
I am overjoyed to have taken up the position as Head of the Instrument Loan Scheme - coming from a prior role in artist management with a focus on young talent it’s such a pleasure to now be involved at such a fundamental level of those musical journeys. Together with our wonderful team of Annette, Clare and Marco I have no doubt that BMILS will continue to progress and thrive, as well as finding innovative and compelling ways to collaborate further with the team at Benslow Music.
Come and see our wonderful new building and garden when you can; I can’t imagine a more idyllic setting for music making!
Etta Dainty
Head of Instrument Loan Scheme
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