This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Laura-Sarti-teaching-at-piano-e1546265296369-1024x767.jpgExplore some highlights from our past; beginning with the celebrated Laura Sarti in the elegant drawing room of a Scottish Castle. Read more for highlights from our first 10 years.


“Oxenfoord Castle, one of the ancestral homes of the Earl of Stair, lies eleven miles south of Edinburgh outside the village of Pathhead. The exact date of the oldest part of the house is not known, but James II is said to have stayed there. During term time the Castle is used as a girls’ boarding school, and the sleeping accommodation is largely in dormitories. Classrooms may be used for private practice – several have pianos”.

Taken from 1981 brochure/application form

Music at Oxenfoord was launched in 1981 from Saturday 25th July until Saturday 1st of August. Masterclasses where given on Vocal and Opera Studies by Laura Sarti with Paul Hamburger offering Repertoire for Singers and Accompanists and David Roblou offering Harpsichord accompaniment. A choral course was offered by Mary Carmichael and Singing workshops led by Joan Busby and Jane Gregson. Hester Dickson and current Artistic Director Malcolm Martineau joined as staff Accompanists.

“Morning classes will be devoted to advanced Vocal Technique and interpretation relating to songs offered by the singers, with particular emphasis on the music of the early Italian composers. Afternoon classes will study Operatic arias. “

Taken from application form relating to classes offered by Laura Sarti


The second Music at Oxenfoord ran from 31st July until 7th August 1982 and attracted 37 full week students, 2 part-time students and 1 observer.

“Mythology in Music was the theme and students are invited to bear this in mind when choosing repertoire for the course. Miss Sarti returned to offer Masterclasses with all other tutors and Accompanist from the previous year and the addition of starting the Oxenfoord Choir.”

“All members of the summer school will be welcome to sing in the choir, which will prepare the choruses in Jephtha.”

Taken from 1982 brochure/application form

1983 & 1984

“Laura Sarti made her operatic reputation in several companies in the UK and abroad and is now a Professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Fellow of the school…. this week she is pleased to be returning to Scotland to take part in the Summer School of Music at Oxenfoord Castle School. Laura Sarti’s teaching skills, enthusiasm and technical mastery mean that particular classes in advanced Vocal and Opera Studies are fully subscribed, as is the whole School this year. Teaching at the Summer Schools at Oxenfoord, examining at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, visiting friends and many pupils, some of whom are Caird Travelling Scholarship winners, have meant that to her delight her “longstanding involvement with all things Scottish continues.”

Full house for a master singer, The Scotsman, Tuesday 28th August 1984

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Music at Oxenfoord, Summer School of Music continued in 1983, 84, 85 and 86 with the same compliment of founding Teaching staff and Accompanists with the addition of Angela Livingstone, Clive Pollard and harpsichordist Clare Sutherland. New for the course was the introduction of bursaries offering a reduction in fees of up to £100, open by competition to applicants born or domiciled in Scotland.

A Typical Schedule 1984 :

9.00 Movement Class
9.45 Classes – Laura Sarti, Paul Hamburger, David Roblou
11.15 Coffee
11.30 Classes and Opera workshop
1.00 Lunch
2.30 Classes, including Opera Class; English Song workshop
4.30 Tea
5.00 Opportunity for ensemble and rehearsals
6.30 Dinner
8.00 Lecture-recitals : concerts : music for fun


“A major theme in 1985 will be Spanish music, and music with a Spanish connection. There will also be a special study and performance of Handel’s opera Atalanta.”

“Events planned for the evening and open to the public include a talk by Laura Sarti entitled ‘Pity the poor Singer!’ and a lecture-recital on Spanish songs by Paul Hamburger.”

Taken from 1985 brochure/application form


“In 1986 a major theme this year will be Italian Music, and music with an Italian connection. David Roblou’s class offers a new look at the familiar oratorios up to Haydn and Mozart including the dramatic oratorios such as Hercules and Semele.”

Taken from 1986 brochure/application form


Music at Oxenfoord, Summer School of Music, 1st August – 8th August 1987, added courses in English and French Song, opera, musicianship and stage movement.

“Jean Houston’s teaching is based on the Laban principles of the art of movement.”

“Joan Busby’s English Song course a special study will be made of the songs of Roger Quilter.”

“Jane Gregson’s French repertoire course is designed for singers and Accompanists, and will provide an opportunity for studying Fauré’s La Bonne Chanson and Messiaen’s Poemes pour Mi.”

Taken from 1987 brochure/application form

In 1987, in association with the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Music at Oxenfoord launched a second course aimed at introducing young musicians to the chamber music repertoire.


Week 1 – Chamber Music Week, Saturday 23rd July to Saturday 30th July, offered instrumentalists aged fourteen to eighteen the opportunity to work with course director Peter Mountain and a team of specialist chamber music teachers:

“The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama is delighted to be associated once more with this most imaginative summer music course.”

Philip Ledger

Week 2: -Included courses in Vocal Technique, Opera, Musicianship and Stage Movement, the model from previous years led by Laura Sarti.

Week 3 – Included an Opera Master Course with Miss Sarti and with Vernon Mound and an early music course with Ivor Bolton.

“A Gala Night will be given at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama on Thursday 11 August… when Opera Master Class students will perform excerpts from the operas studied during the week. This public performance will be staged in costume in the RSAMD’s Opera Theatre – one of the first events to be held there.”

“Our popular baroque class has been extended this year into a full early music course for singers and instrumentalists, offering many opportunities for forming vocal and instrumental Ensembles. The course will be co-ordinated by Ivor Bolton.”

Taken from 1988 brochure/application form


In 1989 Music at Oxenfoord had a total of 51 Residents and 2 non residents students coming from as far afield of Canada, Italy and Poland.

“Jane Manning a tireless champion of new music, offers a new course focusing on this repertoire.”

“The 20th Century Song course aims to cover the broadest possible range of modern vocal music, from the very simplest, suitable for beginners, to the more advanced material.”

Taken from 1989 brochure/application form


The 10th Music at Oxenfoord ran from 28th July to 4th August 1990.

“Special events are planned for the evenings and include a ceilidh, a lecture recital/recital and three student concerts.”

“The Opera course has been expanded this year, and will offer vocal tuition from Laura Sarti, ensemble work with Malcolm Martineau, coaching sessions, and acting classes and direction from Alison Skilbeck.”

Taken from 1990 brochure/application form



Original Oxenfoord tutors and accompanists: Hester Dickson, David Roblou, Laura Sarti, Paul Hamburger, Mary Carmichael, Joan Busby and Malcolm Martineau. N.B. Jane Gregson was unavailable for the photograph.