I had the greatest pleasure to get to spend a day with author, composer and musician, Pat Benham. Pat gave me a signed copy of his book 'The Avalonians' which was a real treat. I also was very humbled to receive a draft copy of his latest contemporary work (for guitar) and look forward to seeing this develop over the coming months. Watch this space!
If you are a classical guitarist you will know Pat's work 'Cubana' which has been on the Trinity Guitar Syllabus (Grade 2) for many years now. It has been a favourite amongst all students over the years.
I worked with Pat on my 'SixDancers' CD covering many of his works and to finally get to meet him face to face was just fantastic.
The sun was shining on Dublin that day and there were some great memories made. Pat loved Dublin as he has never been here before. He found it more than friendly which was lovely to hear and he was really thrilled to finally visit his mothers birthplace in Rathmines.
A very well read and gifted man and I look forward to meeting him again sometime in the near future.
Thank you for coming to Dublin Pat and sharing your knowledge, music and above all your friendship.
Patrick Benham (1940)
Patrick Benham was born in Hove, Sussex and his mother was born in Dublin to an English family. His father's mother was from Co Cork.
Patrick took piano lessons and also played recorder and harmonica as a child. He bought his first guitar at the age 15 and took lessons with a local dance band guitarist. Two years later he was playing with jazz groups in his home area. At around the same time he was inspired after hearing Segovia to study classical guitar, taking a few lessons with Stella MacKenzie at Len Williams's Spanish Guitar Centre in London. After three years as an art student in Brighton and working in a drawing office in Cheltenham he moved to Bristol in 1962. There he joined the staff of the Spanish Guitar Centre (Western Area) which had been set up by Michael Watson in 1953. By this time Patrick had already started to compose for the instrument. He studied the rudiments of harmony and composition on his own, and also employed aspects of jazz harmony in some of his works. He wrote quite a number of simple pieces for his students some of which have been collected together and published. He has also composed music for concert performance and for guitar with other instruments and jazz ensembles of various sizes.
He left the Bristol centre in 1967 to concentrate on peripatetic school work. In 1969 Patrick was appointed guitar tutor at the prestigious Millfield School near Glastonbury where he remained until his retirement in 2005. Although no longer teaching he continues to compose for the classical guitar. His latest piece Valse (2012) is included on the SixDancers CD. He still lives in Somerset.
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