The Cookham Festival has a history of looking for new and innovative acts, and providing something for everyone. This spirit is perhaps best embodied in Julia Bentley-Dawkes. She’s no stranger to the Cookham Festival, having performed in a concert for two flutes and a piano in 2011, but this year she’s got something a little different up her sleeve.
“There are so many activities that children can get involved with locally, but very few of those are live music events, and even fewer feature classical music. So I’ve decided to organise a series of concerts for pre-school children and their adults!”
A Cookham resident since birth, Julia’s passion for getting children into music was inspired by her own children, and upon attending a concert for babies in London she took the decision to organise one of her own. “I had an idea that I’d like to set up a concert series for children after my first child was born; As a mum of two young children and a music teacher myself I know what an enormous benefit music can have, and I strongly believe that the earlier it is introduced the better!”
The concert, entitled The Pied Pipers of Cookham, will be performed by Julia and her sister-in-law Victoria Dawkes, with piano accompaniment by fellow Cookhamite Jean Garrett. Unlike traditional concerts, children will be able to move around and dance if they wish, and parents will be able to change and feed their babies in a relaxed environment while listening to beautiful music.
“I firmly believe that classical music doesn’t have to be boring and stuffy, and that’s why we have live musicians playing real live instruments!”
Julia’s experiences as a musician live up to her beliefs: “Playing to a room full of babies and toddlers is quite a strange experience, but it’s nothing I can’t handle – I was once booked to play at a very posh garden party where I had to play in the woods dressed as a nymph!”
Performing at the Cookham Festival is a great honour for Julia. “I’ve lived here all my life, and over the years I’ve never been able to decide whether it’s the scenery, the people or the pubs that are my favourite part! Regardless, I’m proud to be contributing to the festival and I hope everyone enjoys our performance.”
The Pied Piper of Cookham will be taking place on Tuesday May 12 at 10:45am