As part of our Summer Schools programme, this week will be the perfect opportunity to make new friends through old music, and to develop your skills under the guidance of a world-class team of Renaissance tutors: Clare Wilkinson course co-director & voice, Gawain Glenton course co-director & cornetto, Uri Smilansky viols & recorders, William Lyons flutes, recorders, reeds & pipes, and Marc Lewon ​lutes. (Find out more about our tutors.)

The Triumphs of Maximilian: Music from the Time of Emperor Maximilian I

At eighteen, Maximilian I (1459–1519) married Mary of Burgundy (‘Mary the Rich’), and at her court developed the profound love and knowledge of music and musicians which he later put to good use in the foundation of his own court. He inherited musicians from his father, father-in-law and cousin, and gathered about him an unparalleled musical establishment. This week will focus on music from Maximilian’s time, and particularly from his circle: court composers Heinrich Isaac and Ludwig Senfl and celebrated organist-composer Paul Hofhaimer will be central figures.

Our centrepiece will be Isaac’s Missa Wohlauf gut G’sell von hinnen; in smaller consorts we will explore, amongst other things, the domestic repertoire found in the intimate Liederbuch collections of the early 16th-century German private home, such as the stunning Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen (a poem attributed to Maximilian himself).

A typical day’s schedule might be:

09.30 – vocal or instrumental consort groups
11.00 – coffee
11.30 – mixed vocal/instrumental groups
13.00 – lunch break
13.30 – free time / self-organised groups
16.00 – tea
16.30 – choice of masterclasses/workshops
18.30 – dinner
19.30 – tutti session for large-scale works

The tutors will offer coaching and workshops on various aspects of Renaissance performance. Music will be provided, but you are also encouraged to bring your own sets of parts and scores if you wish. Alternatively, feel free to join the growing number of people saving paper by using iPads and downloading music from the course Dropbox.

Participants should arrive in time for the welcome at 4pm on Sunday 1 August. The course ends with breakfast on Sunday 8 August.

Is the Renaissance course for me?

We welcome applications from confident singers, and from players of Renaissance instruments at A=440 including viols, lutes, reeds, Renaissance recorders and flutes, cornets, sackbuts, crumhorns, shawms and curtals.

Recorder players should be familiar with all instruments in the descant to bass range, unless offering another instrument or voice as well; viol players are encouraged to bring Renaissance as well as Baroque instruments, but it might be possible to borrow Renaissance viols during the course.

All applicants should have a good standard of sight-reading and be able to hold a line confidently on their own. Singers may be encouraged to take solo parts as well as singing in ensembles. Those applying as instrumentalists will also have opportunities to sing if they wish. Non-singing/playing observers are welcome if we have space. Pre-formed vocal consorts are especially encouraged to apply.


1 August, 4pm: the course begins with a welcome given by the tutors.
4 August, 8pm: Courtiers of Grace will give an evening concert at St Mary’s church, Hitchin.
Pre-concert talk by Dr Grantley McDonald will start at 7pm.
6 August, 7.30pm: there will be a chance for students to perform their own choice of music to other participants in an informal setting.
7 August, 7.30pm: on the final evening, course members will participate in a public concert at Benslow Music, performing works studied during the week.


Our 2021 course will be held at Benslow Music, Hitchin, just a 30-minute train ride from Cambridge or London. An ideal base for exploring some of England’s most beautiful countryside, the historic town of Hitchin with its fine parish church is a destination in itself. There is also plenty of free parking.

Benslow Music has ten designated rehearsal and practice rooms, including two halls suitable for larger ensembles and public events. They possess a fine Goble harpsichord modelled on a 1727 Christian Zell original as well as virginals, a spinet and a restored Broadwood square piano dating from the 1820s.

Benslow Music provides a wide range of comfortable bedrooms with ensuite or shared bathroom facilities, enviable catering and all sorts of rehearsal and practice rooms. The beautiful gardens provide an inviting space in which to relax and regather energies between sessions. Additionally, all summer school participants will be able to make use of Benlow Music’s extensive music library during their course. Find out more about accommodation on Benslow Music’s website.


The Selene Webb (née Mills) Memorial Bursary Fund supports those whose financial situation would prevent them from attending our courses without assistance, particularly music students and those setting out on a career in music.