Boxwood and Brass at Benslow

Here are Boxwood and Brass Towers we're cooking up various plans for our

Harmoniemusik course

we're holding in Benslow in September. It's a very exciting project and we're very music looking forward to it, hence spending a lot of time this evening shifting through repertoire, considering what music might work best.

Benslow Music

is a very renowned institution, one of those sort of places that has a very loyal crowd of amateur music makers who come back year after year for the many sorts of courses that the organisation run. It has a long and distinguished history, originally starting in 1929 as the first branch of the Rural Music Schools Association. Musicians such as Sir Adrian Boult, Yehudi Menuhin, Michael Tippett, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Imogen Holst and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies have all been associated with the organisation. But of real note aren't the "big name" professional musicians who've been there at one point in time or the other but the many amateurs that make Benslow what it is.

Benslow Music

Benslow attracts a wide range of course participants, all ages, all backgrounds, all levels of ability. Most of the courses are short, just three days from Friday through to Sunday (great for anyone wanting to sneak a quick music course around their work commitments!) and participants are able to either stay as residents or just attend during the course sessions. A big advantage of staying on is the excellent food, beautiful gardens and the bar! One thing we're considering for this project is ad hoc sessions after the bar opens, Harmoniemusik in real life practice!

In case you've come to this page from somewhere other than the Boxwood & Brass website and you're wondering what is this Harmoniemusik we're talking about - The ‘harmonie’ was an ensemble usually comprising pairs of clarinets and/or oboes, horns and bassoons, often with a contrabassoon or double bass, but in some locations the group included trumpets, basset horns, serpent, flutes, or even violas. The most famous examples of Harmoniemusik are Mozart’s Gran Partita and Serenades K. 375 and 388, but there are actually thousands of surviving compositions and arrangements for harmonie ensembles, ranging from military marches to the most sophisticated chamber music. On this course we will be focussing on works from 5-9 players, including transcriptions of The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni and Fidelio. You’ll also have the chance to try Robert Percival’s (our bassoonist) amazing arrangements, which include symphonies by Mozart and Beethoven!

Whilst the course teachers Emily Worthington (clarinet), Robert Percival (bassoon) and Anneke Scott (horn) are experts in period instruments that's not what this course is all about. We're very much looking forward to exploring aspects of "HIP" (that's "historically informed performance"- in essence, learning how knowledge about how musicians used to play and about the instruments they used and how that can educate and inform how we play on modern or historical instruments alike)  and there will be the chance to learn the basics of classical period performing style and try out historic instruments. But the main focus is getting course members playing one-to-a-part in groups of 3 to 9 players, graded by ability. We aim to ensure that course participants leave with a broader knowledge of the repertoire for harmonie and the ensemble playing skills it requires, with a particular emphasis on opera transcriptions. Some music may be sent out in advance but there will also be plenty of opportunity to develop your sightreading!

Some more course highlights include:

  • Natural Horn workshop/taster session
  • Hands-on demonstrations of historical clarinet, basset horn, bassoon and contrabassoon
  • Contrabassoon workshop (subject to demand and scheduling)
  • Free session for self-guided chamber music
  • Access to Boxwood & Brass’s library of wind music, including our own arrangements
  • Private lessons available for a supplementary fee
  • Informal concert on Sunday afternoon
  • Did we mention the bar?


We are looking for players of oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn (modern or natural) of a confident grade 6 to conservatoire level. If you have a basset horn, cor anglais, or contrabassoon, even better! This is a small course (20-25 students) so you will be guaranteed plenty of coaching.

If we have sufficient players of historical clarinet, oboe and bassoon (A=430 or 440) we will form a period instrument ensemble, however this is subject to recruitment.

Resident: £270 Non-Resident: £195 Code: 15/277

Booking can be made here

 Any questions? Feel free to email us at