WHEN Newbury composer Fiona Bennett heard John Suchet announce that her music had been voted into the Classic FM 2015 Hall of Fame Top 300, she couldn’t believe her ears.
“I was giving my three greyhounds their breakfast when I heard my name announced,” she remembers. “And when I heard A Lad and a Lass had been voted into the chart, I dropped the bowls into the sink with a clatter and ran to the phone to ring my parents.”
This year, both of Fiona’s classical albums are among the nominations. A Country Suite was inspired by the school run between Hermitage and Hampstead Norreys and Berkshire country life during the late 1800s is reflected in all nine tracks. “People were often born, christened, married and buried in the same village” says Fiona. “Although life must have been tough, I imagine the sense of community was strong and supportive. My imaginary village in the suite is based on Hampstead Norreys and its beautiful church is depicted in the movement Sunday
Fiona’s latest album, The New Lady Radnor Suite, is dedicated to Melissa, the wife of the 9th Earl of Radnor and a friend of Fiona. “Our sons attended the same school and I thought it would be lovely
to dedicate a new, modern suite to her, just as Hubert Parry did for Helen, the wife of the 5th Earl, when he composed Lady Radnor’s Suite way back in 1894. She would travel to London and conduct the orchestra herself, wearing her tiara back to front so the audience could see it sparkling in the light”
You can vote for Fiona’s music in this year’s Hall of Fame Top 300 by loggingon to the Classic FM website and voting for your three favourite pieces. You can also vote by post if you send a card to Global Radio in Leicester Square.
“I would love to hear that my horn and piano piece Romance in C has reached the chart this year,” says Fiona. “I’ll be listening with bated breath on Good Friday morning, when they start to count down the 2016 Top 300.”
Good luck, Fiona.
The New Lady Radnor Suite is available to download and on CD from both Amazon and iTunes.