Hay Music began life in 2011, the vision of John Stark, retired hospital consultant. A lover of music, his ambition was to bring the highest quality classical chamber music to Hay-on-Wye at modest ticket prices and he has achieved this by attracting both young, highly qualified 'new generation' artists in the early stages of their careers in music as well as many established and well known professional musicians, including from overseas.
From the beginning Hay Music collaborated with Richard Booth's Bookshop in Hay which provides a unique and characterful 70 seat venue amongst the heavily laden bookshelves. Its intimacy and informality is appealing to performers and audiences alike.
The search for a performing space with a good piano led Hay Music to an additional home at Dorstone House, Dorstone, courtesy of Michael and Mary Hession, with its charming music room housing a modern Bösendorfer recital grand piano. The house is set in a beautiful garden and arboretum complete with ponds and small lake. With the possibility of bringing a lunchtime picnic on the day of a performance, the afternoon recitals here offer a charming social occasion as well as an outstanding musical experience. In addition, after the performance tea and cakes are available provided by fund-raising Dorstone volunteers.
Recitals have also been held in Hay Castle and Talgarth Mill, providing further highly individual settings. In addition to these venues Hay Music also regularly holds recitals in St Mary's Church, Hay-on-Wye, a building beloved of the BBC from where Radio 3 broadcasts lunchtime recitals during the Hay Festival in May/June each year. Its extraordinary acoustic qualities make it ideal for large choirs and orchestral ensembles as well as more intimate chamber music. Seating around 150 it gives scope for larger audiences which proved a considerable bonus when we have achieved full houses for concerts such as the Volksrenije Choir of St Petersburg, the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and Britain's renowned baroque violinist Rachel Podger and harpsichordist Chad Kelly.
In 2015 a Trust was formed under the name of 'Hay Music Trust' which is now governed by a board of Trustees with Paul Greatbatch as Chairman and with John Stark, together with other members of the Hay Music team, arranging the concerts. In August 2016 Hay Music was granted charitable status (Registered Charity Number 1168901).
Around twelve concerts are held each year at roughly monthly intervals and April 2018 will see the return of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, the Dragonfly Ensemble and Anna Tilbrook for Hay Music's Fourth Chamber Music Festival.
Hay Music, in the past, has aimed to be self-sufficient from ticket sales but this is becoming increasingly difficult whilst maintaining our philosophy of keeping ticket prices as low as possible and at the same time continuing to pay our musicians at a fair level of remuneration. To this end in February 2017 Hay Music introduced its Friends and Patrons scheme and we are extremely grateful to those supporters who have already joined the Hay Music Friends and Patrons community.
Over the years Hay Music has benefited from occasional grants and donations, in particular from the Arts Council for Wales's 'Night Out' scheme, and also their major contribution to the 2016 Chamber Music Festival.
We are particularly indebted to the Mid Wales Music Trust for their continued support of the Chamber Music Festival and to private individuals who have made financial contributions.
A major supporter of our 2017 Chamber Music Festival was the Powys Welsh Church Act Fund (administered by the Community Foundation in Wales) and we are also greatly indebted to the following for their financial support of the 2017 Festival.
Kodaly Society of Wales
Lindenleaf Charitable Trust
Thank you! - Diolch yn fawr!
In addition to financial support Hay Music is indebted to a host of individuals whose various talents and generously given time make the enterprise possible.
We are hugely grateful to Richard Booth's Bookshop for providing a unique performing space and also for managing our ticket sales.
To Michael and Mary Hession thanks for arranging and hosting recitals in their spacious home in Dorstone and for Michael's considerable expertise in the research for and design of some of our more comprehensive and stylish printed programmes.
The following artists have been particularly generous and supportive: