Remembering Viola Bent

August is a meaningful time for the Viola Bent Award. Founded in 2017 through the generous gift of late AYM Guardian Angel, Viola Bent, this award supported string players and pianists with a focus on the Berkshire area. Every year, Viola’s birthday in August provided an opportunity to celebrate the impact of her award – as 18 year old Poppy (who was supported by the Viola Bent Award from 2018) describes:

“I will always hold the memories of Miss Bent in my heart. Every year in August (around the time of her birthday), I would be invited to entertain Miss Bent’s family and friends in the grounds of her home. It was always a happy event with music, laughter and slices of delicious homemade cake. I remember blue skies and dappled sun and being given extra slices of chocolate cake to eat on the train home! 

Every year I looked forward to chatting to Miss Bent – filling her in on my latest musical ventures, concerts and exams. She was genuinely interested in my achievements and was delighted to see my progress first hand.   

Over the many years of my award, Miss Bent was a real part of my musical journey, and I will never forget her.  I feel so privileged to have received the Viola Bent Award.”  

Since 2017, the Viola Bent Award has helped seven young musicians to reach their musical potential. When establishing her award, Viola shared with us where her love of music started and why supporting young musicians is so important:

“My love of classical music was given to me by my late husband. We often listened to recordings when we lived for a few years in Malaysia after we were first married and my enjoyment of music grew from then onwards.

I am not an expert at all, but I love hearing music. I like all the different instruments but the cello is my favourite. When I heard about Awards for Young Musicians and the opportunities it gives to so many talented musicians, I realised that I would love to be able to help and support young people who are dedicated to this wonderful art form.”

In spring 2022 we were saddened to hear that Viola had died, aged 97. But the impact of her award continues – as Poppy’s mum, Angie, describes:

“Miss Bent was a wonderful lady who cared so deeply about the young people that she supported with her annual award. Through her generosity, she enabled her awardees to achieve their very best and to take part in musical experiences that would never have been possible without her help”.  

We’re thrilled that the Viola Bent Award has enabled talented young musicians to succeed and brought generations together to share their love of music!

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