I first started coming to Workshop around 1991. I’d recently left the University, where I was a lecturer in virology, to join a start-up biotech company on the Science Park, and my very generous leaving gift had been a clarinet. I hadn’t any formal musical education – I was taught piano briefly (and un-inspiringly) as a child, and learned to play the bagpipes at school in Aberdeen – but I had let slip a fancy for taking up jazz saxophone. Apparently, though, the gift budget couldn’t quite stretch that far! After a few private lessons a friend told me about Workshop and suggested it would be a good opportunity to broaden my horizons. It certainly did the job. I started with small group clarinet lessons and then, with great trepidation at each stage, braved the Wind Band, All Stars, the Jazz Band and finally Choir, learning a huge amount along the way. Saturdays at Workshop became a cherished highlight of the week, a fiercely defended diary commitment and a wonderful antidote to the stresses and strains of my working and commuting life. After a decade in the biotech world I spent the next fourteen years as director of a scientific institute near London concerned with international standardisation and control of vaccines and other biopharmaceuticals, retiring eventually in 2016. I now do a bit of consultancy, occasional teaching and, very happily, a lot more music!
I first heard of Workshop when our family offered a lift to a stranded tutor who had missed a rail-replacement bus service into Cambridge. Eagerly anticipating the opportunity to introduce our children to music, I arrived in September 2010 when my eldest daughter joined the Mini-Workshop. It was only then that I realised that there were groups for adults as well and I was delighted to be able to brush the dust off my cello, joining the String Orchestra and Orchestra (I’ve since also tutored the beginner cellos). Over the years, the whole family has joined up and Workshop has become a weekly highlight that we all enjoy together.
I live locally in the village and all three of my children have come through Duxford Primary School. My working life has been in drug discovery and biotech. I currently work for a small University spin out company developing new drugs in oncology.
I started attending in about 1978, travelling out from Cambridge with Greg and other friends from college. When Jill ‘s father Oscar wanted to give up the Treasurer’s job I took over, and have been a treasurer at Workshop since then, for about 40 years, taking on the Trustees’ treasurer job when Ian Barton was taken ill. I played the violin, and more recently percussion, in the orchestra, and sing in the choir.
Greg Smith – Trustee
I met Jill Steinberg at a tutors sherry party in 1972-ish at Trinity Hall where Jonathan Steinberg was a fellow. She was starting up a drama workshop on Saturdays at Duxford School, and together with Angela Clarke who taught recorder I started the music at Workshop. More recently I’ve taught beginner violins, folk fiddle, and conducted the Workshop orchestra. I play viola as well as violin. I have been a trustee since 1985 and Chairman of the Trust from 1997 – 2020.
(Hazel and Greg’s children spent their Saturday mornings at Workshop from birth (without the option), learning and then teaching their instruments.
Under Workshop’s auspices Hazel and Greg started the Burwell Shetland Fiddle and Accordion summer school in 1991, which branched off and happened every year until 2019, changing into the Burwell Bash. Ellie their daughter is now on the organising committee, and organising the 2021 Bash online.)
Music brought me to Cambridge in 1972, good fortune took me to Sawston Village College as a young, fairly inept teacher in 1976 and the Steinbergs, whose 3 sons I taught there, persuaded me along to Duxford Saturday Workshop a few years later. I started out deputising occasionally when a tutor was unable to attend – thereby gaining the unofficial title of ‘Principal Guest Conductor’ – but was gradually sucked further in as my own daughters began to come along with me. My biggest contribution, I think, was coming up with the idea of an All-Comers’ Orchestra (soon to become known as the All Stars), a group which I led for the first few years of its existence. (Actually, on reflection, perhaps my biggest contribution was persuading a young PGCE student, Arwen Russell, then training at Sawston, to come along with me one Saturday morning. We all know how that worked out!) It was Arwen’s predecessor as Director, Helen Higgins, who cajoled me into taking over the String Orchestra. I agreed to do it, just for a term, until someone better qualified could be found. Luckily for me, that person hasn’t shown up yet. Workshop has given me so much: friends, a musical community, a safe place to try out ideas, the opportunity to begin to learn the fiddle, the chance to tread the boards in numerous Workshop Entertainments, the opportunity to conduct Bach, Haydn, Vaughan Williams, Gershwin, Bloch and so many more. Looking back, I’m very grateful that Jill Steinberg simply wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer!
In Cambridge in the mid-1960s, I was working on electron microscopes and medical instruments. A Big Band started which included some old friends and I became their regular guitarist. That morphed into the Umbrella Big Band in Stapleford, still active and successful. One of the trumpeters was John Bounden who was brass tutor at DSWS. In the mid-1980s he introduced me to DSWS, and I became lead guitar tutor, loan guitar procurer and repairer. John and I started a Jazz Band, initially small group Dixeland arrangements, and the band soon grew enough to tackle big band jazz arrangements, and became the Band we know and love now. All three of my children became part of DSWS, and my wife was a clarinet tutor and manager. I was a Trustee and Secretary to the Trustees from the 1980s to recently, and count that time as the most enjoyable and fulfilling of my life.
I am an irredeemably besotted grandfather of Ryan (3) and twins Clara and Kieran (10 months). Prior to this I was an investment banker for 30 years, until I had a Damascene moment, quit, and went back to university as a (very) mature student to study climate change. I was then a climate change consultant, as well as taking on various non-exec roles, including Chairmanship of a fine chocolate company. Musically my love has always been chamber music, encouraged perhaps by one gig when, after a lengthy period in the pub, I played 1st violin in the Brahms piano quintet, with Nigel Kennedy as 2nd violin. Back in the ’90s my whole family attended Workshop for a while (2 violins, a double bass and a clarinet). Then children grew up and moved away and I was travelling too much to come regularly. However, now I have more time I am hoping to start again.
Dominic Mahony – Trustee
I first heard about Duxford Saturday Workshop when I moved to Whittlesford in the early 1990s and a neighbour told me about it. I dusted off my cello, at the time unplayed for 15 years, and joined the string orchestra. I quickly appreciated the informal, friendly nature of workshop and the sense that making music should, above all, be fun. It helped me regain confidence and enjoyment in playing. Since then I’ve sung in the choir and learned to strum the guitar and the ukelele. My two children went to workshop when they were younger and, with the odd break when living abroad, it’s been part of my life for the best part of 30 years.
Music has always featured hugely in my life, from starting to learn the piano at 4, the violin at 6, to singing in my local Festival Chorus, playing in County Music Ensembles and taking part in a Music Theatre group for many years. After graduating with a degree in Music from Cambridge in 1996, I embarked upon my Initial Teacher Training course at Homerton. I still count myself the luckiest student of my cohort to be placed at Sawston Village College with Janet Macleod as my mentor. She suggested that I came out to Workshop and I cycled over to her house each Saturday in order to get my lift there and back. The rest, as she says above, is history. Workshop has been a second family to me over the years, and I love my Saturday mornings there. I’ve conducted the Recorder Band and the Allstars orchestra, led the Children’s Music Theatre Group and started a composition class during my time there in addition to my administrative responsibilities, and I am totally committed to the ethos of music’s being for all, irrespective of age, ability or financial means.