Fiona Bennett is a Berkshire based 53 year old mum to two teenage boys; she adopts ex racing greyhounds and she also writes piano music. In 2011, the Cardiff born musician composed ?A Country Suite? and to celebrate her 50th birthday, she hired British Grove Studios in London and recorded what was initially supposed to be a demo, of her music. The album was released on Fiona?s own record label in February 2012 to coincide with the birthday celebrations and just over three years later, it has been announced that three of the tracks from the album gained enough votes to get into Classic FM?s ?Hall of Fame? Top 300. Here Fiona talks to BritMums about her journey.
I was born in Cardiff in 1962, or as my high functioning autistic son, Zachary, calls it ? Victorian Times, and I began piano lessons at the age of 4 when we moved up to Anglesey. I loved playing the piano and took my first exam when I was just 6 years old. Growing up in Wales meant I was surrounded by music; choirs, bands, school orchestras and I also took up the violin and the trumpet which finally led me to study at London?s Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the early 1980s.
I didn?t want children. Ever! Not even one titchy tiny baby, my mother was so disappointed but my music was so important and by my mid teens, I had established myself as a regular on Welsh language TV and radio, performing my own songs at the piano. I formed a successful function band in the 1990s, ?Route 66? and we became the preferred band for parties, weddings and functions at Downton Abbey, the castle formerly known as Highclere. I married Bob in 1997 at Highclere Castle and I fell pregnant on the second day of our honeymoon. Dominic arrived in July 1998.
Zachary was born in 2002; he was diagnosed with autism in 2006 and that?s when my music had to take a back seat. I learned all I could about autism and now at 13 he is in mainstream school learning French and German alongside all the other subjects.
In 2011, Dominic was preparing for his Winchester College entrance exams and I started playing the piano again in the evenings. I began composing music and by the autumn of that year, I had eight finished pieces. I called the album ?A Country Suite? and recorded it at British Grove Studios in London. The music received the most wonderful response from all who heard it so I decided to release it on iTunes and sold the CDs on Amazon.
Over Easter 2015, three of the tracks were voted into Classic FM?s Hall of Fame (the world?s biggest classical chart) and ?The Landscape? went straight into the Top 300 at number 154. My army of Facebook friends and Twitter followers were amazing, they voted for me, asked their friends and family to do the same, shared my website and videos and I couldn?t have done this without them.
The follow up album ?The New Lady Radnor Suite? is due out soon and being a Classic FM Hall of Fame composer is just wonderful but somehow, becoming a mum still tops everything and my two boys are the most amazing thing I have ever achieved.
A Country Suite is available from Amazon and to download from iTunes. Find out more information at Fiona Bennett Music
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