The Menuhin School, which focuses on the serious pre-college music student, is an English boarding school located in Stoke d’Abernon, a small village in Surrey, south west of London. It was founded in 1963 by the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who was known not only for his early life as a prodigy, but also for his writings, diverse interests, and humanitarian efforts.
Little is an alumna of the school, which also includes among its alumni: Nigel Kennedy, Nicola Benedetti, Alina Ibragimova; cellists Tasya Hodges, Colin Carr and Paul Watkins; pianists Melvyn Tan, Kathryn Stott and Paul Coker; and the Endellion, Grainger and Belcea Quartets.
At this point the school serves about 80 students ages eight to 19 from around the world, with a staff of 50 offering classes both academic and musical.
In a statement the Menuhin School said that "Tasmin Little has been our Musical Patron for many years and we are delighted that she has accepted the role of Co-President. As a YMS alumna she has always been a strong supporter, and we look forward to her continued involvement in the life of the School."
Little told Violinist.com that "my role is certainly going to be hands-on, in the form of overseeing the ethos of the school and the general musical direction that the school goes in. But this will of course go hand-in-hand with the Director of Music Ashley Wass’s ideas and of course the Headteacher's ideas. I see myself as the 'perspective' of the school, but not absolutely in the day-to-day thick of it."
Little started at the Menuhin School when she was very young: "I was just eight," Little told Violinist.com in a 2009 interview. "It was quite young, bearing in mind that it's a boarding school. I effectively left home at age eight. But it was a very small school as well. At the time that I arrived, there were only 35 pupils, ranging from age eight to 18. I had only about three people who were actually my age in the whole school, which was a bit bizarre. It was a wonderful education, a fantastic atmosphere in the school. It was more like a family, really, but it was a big adjustment, having been in a large primary school in the heart of London. Suddenly I was right in the middle of nowhere, in this stunningly beautiful countryside, with lots and lots of fantastic, young players."
Menuhin himself was still teaching at the school at the time Little attended, and so in her many years there, Little said that she worked with him in various capacities: as a pupil; as someone who played with Menuhin at the school and while he was still playing; and also working as a professional with Menuhin when he conducted in many of her concerto performances. She said she also became a personal friend to Menuhin and went on various trips with him and kept him company.
"So I feel I have a true idea of who he was as a person and what he valued," Little said, "and I intend to try to keep this alive within the school. This role also embraces my interest in the development of young people and the importance of music education."
Little accepts the position after having announced her retirement from the concert stage in August 2020. She will perform at the school, in The Menuhin Hall, on June 11.
Besides performing as a concert soloist with a long list of the big-name orchestras around the world, Little also is a Fellow of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (FGSM), a Vice President of the Elgar Society, an Ambassador for The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts, and for Youth Music, Tasmin has received Honorary Degrees from the Universities of Bradford, Leicester, Hertfordshire and City of London. In 2016, she was awarded Honorary Membership of the Royal Academy of Music (Hon RAM) by the Academy and the University of London. Little is the recipient of the Gold Badge Award for Services to Music and in 2019 she won the BBC Music Magazine Personality of the Year Award.
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