The Leeds charity spreading music across the city

It has its origins in the Victorian era but a music house tucked away discreetly on the edge of the city centre is very much planning for a long and sustainable future.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 4:02 pm
Nick Wayne Pic: Tony Johnson

When the Yorkshire College of Music and Drama was established in 1894, the gramophone hadn’t been invented and composers such as Brahms, Debussy and Arensky were revered in the right circles.

In another circle, the Haddocks family were instrumental in bringing the first orchestral concert to the newly built Leeds Town Hall, which included compositions from Beethoven, Mozart and Rossini.

That was 30 years prior to the establishment of Leeds College of Music (which YCMD was then known as), - and the culmination of a vision of the family to create musical opportunities in the city of Leeds.

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Blyss Edwards, age11, practicing before her exam in the piano practice room at Music House.

In 1965, the College became a non-profit making charitable trust with the aim to help make music, singing and drama tuition equally accessible to everyone and, once again, the project is reinventing itself to work with modern times.

It will be known as the Music House, under the umbrella of Yorkshire College of Music and Drama, but is making the building and the ethos more available to the wider community.

Trustee Nick Wayne said: “It was a bit of a misnomer. We are Yorkshire but Leeds, we are not a college, we are a charity, we have nothing to do with academia - it is all for the love of music.

“Music was the most relevant bit so we decided at the end of last year that we would have a change of name to reflect what we do.”

There was a low-key launch with David Lascelles, the 8th Earl of Harewood doing the honours. He was said to be so taken with the Music House, off Woodhouse Lane, he is now a patron of it.

Mr Wayne added: “His mother was one of the instigators of the Leeds International Piano Competition, he is very involved in music and loved what we are doing in bringing music to people who can’t access it.

“It is what we are trying to do - get music to everybody to enjoy and participate in if possible.”

The Music House acts as co-ordinator to fix pupils up with teachers in whatever they want to learn from the flute to a grand piano.

Any revenue that is made from lessons goes into the charitable work which includes lessons for students that can’t usually access them and also to delivering music lessons in primary schools by providing tutors and instruments.

St Mark’s House, the home of Music House, is also opening itself up for people to enjoy and use for workshops, summer schools, music and drama events or even community activities.

Previous alumni have gone on to become professional musicians, one performed at Prince William’s wedding and another was a certain Dame Julie Andrews.

Mr Wayne added: “We are very much moving to a different chapter. For years people came at 5pm for an hour lesson and would go away again. That is fine but we want to open it up, particularly during the day, as a building with a focus.”


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