Following a successful trial of Masterclasses with Laura Sarti at Edinburgh’s Queens Hall in 1980, ‘Music at Oxenfoord’ was launched in 1981 as a week’s course held at Oxenfoord Castle School near Edinburgh. We attracted 28 students in our first year with a staff of six teachers – Laura Sarti (vocal studies & opera), Paul Hamburger (repertoire for singers & accompanists), David Roblou (early vocal music, solo harpsichord repertoire & accompaniment), Mary Carmichael, the then headmistress of Oxenfoord Castle School, (Choral course) and Joan Busby & Jane Gregson running a singing workshop. The staff accompanists included Hester Dickson & Malcolm Martineau and founding patrons included Roderick Brydon, Neil Butterworth, Joan Dickson and Robin Orr. In 1992 Mary Hammond introduced a Musical Theatre course until her retirement in 2001.
When Oxenfoord Castle School closed in September 1993, we became associated with Napier University and moved to St Leonard’s School in St Andrews. Because around 20% of students were coming from Europe and further afield (America, Australia and Japan) we changed our name to Oxenfoord International and continue to attract international applicants to this day.
In 2002 the Public Masterclass was launched with Sir Thomas Allen and has since included such notable teachers and performers as John Mark Ainsley, Ivor Bolton, Isobel Buchanan, Susan Bullock, Ryland Davies, Paul Farrington, Della Jones, Janis Kelly, Yvonne Kenny, Patricia MacMahon, Jane Manning, Marie McLaughlin, Ann Murray and Joan Rodgers.
Joan Busby retired as Artistic Director in 2005 and was succeeded by Malcolm Martineau who continues to lead the course. We stayed at St. Leonards until 2008 (with a gap of only one year due to Millennium refurbishments) and in 2009 moved to our current location of Loretto School, Musselburgh, conveniently sited on the outskirts of Scotland’s historic capital.
Our success is rooted in the very high quality and reputation of our tutors and pianists. Young professionals, student singers and gifted amateurs are attracted to the course, and there are several classes and workshops suited to the inexperienced. Everyone who loves singing is welcome to apply and many students return year after year.
Today singers from all over the world come to share the wealth of musical experience at Oxenfoord International. It continues to retain its intimate and supportive ethos, which has become a feature for so many over the years.
In 2018 we’re looking to increase our family of supporters who provide the valuable funds to maintain our excellent standard of staff and to offer bursaries for those most in need. If you think you may be able to help, please get in contact.