Swineshead’s Windmill of wonders turns 50 in March

The Globe Ensemble, Russian harpist Valeria Kurbatova, French flautist Luce Zurita and British violist Shiry Rashkovsky, is performing The Windmill Studio's 50th anniversary concert at Swineshead Village Hall on Friday, March 11, at 7.30pm.
The Globe Ensemble, Russian harpist Valeria Kurbatova, French flautist Luce Zurita and British violist Shiry Rashkovsky, is performing The Windmill Studio's 50th anniversary concert at Swineshead Village Hall on Friday, March 11, at 7.30pm.

The vision of a retired music teacher from Swineshead to introduce young people to the eternal world of classical music reaches its half-century next month.

Classically-trained pianist Bettina Houlder will welcome The Globe Ensemble, Russian harpist Valeria Kurbatova, French flautist Luce Zurita and British violist Shiry Rashkovsky, to Swineshead Village Hall on Friday, March 11, at 7.30pm as her vision turns 50.

The Windmill Studio concerts were born on March 18, 1966, when Bettina accompanied late Canadian viola player Frederick Grinke in giving a recital to music students at the former Gleed Girls Technology College, Spalding.

Bettina said: “I wanted to take some of my students to see the Halle Orchestra playing in Sheffield, but they couldn’t afford to go.

“So I thought if I could get some musicians to play at the school in the afternoon, I could then open it up to the public at night.

“I asked the headmistress at the time if I could do it and she was right behind me with the idea.”

I called it the Windmill Studio series because my father was a miller and we used to live in a house called Windmill Lodge

Bettina Houlder, founder of The Windmill Studio concerts

The standard for what came next over the 22 years of concerts staged at the school was set by South African viola player Cecil Aronowitz and English mezzo-soprano Margaret Cable, with one of those who carried on the tradition being pianist and host of TV quiz Face the Music, Joseph Cooper.

Bettina said: “Because I had been at the Royal Academy of Music, London, for five years and the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, for 18 months, it was a lot easier for me to invite people to come to Spalding and play.

“Then I retired from teaching in 1988 and used a big music room at my home in Swineshead to put on big concerts to see if people here were interested in music.

“I called it the Windmill Studio series because my father was a miller and we used to live in a house called Windmill Lodge.

“But when the audience grew to about 40 people, I wanted to see if I could expand it by moving to Swineshead Village Hall.”

The Windmill Studio concerts series has been at the village hall ever since and in recent years, musicians as diverse as Romanian pianist Florian Mitrea, Polish accordonist Bartosz Glowacki and English soprano Marianne Wright have graced the hall which celebrated its diamond jubilee in 2012.

Bettina said: “I love music and I hope the Windmill Studio concerts will carry on after I’ve gone.”

Tickets for The Globe Ensemble, priced £12, can be bought on the night.

The proms on the car park

Familiar face charms her audience by trip to piano heaven