Hannah Benton is Blackheath Halls’ Operations Manager and is responsible for the running the building. When Hannah is not working at the Halls, she is playing the bassoon in Blackheath Halls Community Orchestra. Hannah is a proud Yorkshire woman and keeps the Halls’ staff happy by providing us with homemade cakes, either baked by Hannah herself or sent from Yorkshire by her mother.
Hannah, how did you become a bassoon player?
I found a bassoon in the school music cupboard, had a go and fell in love with the bassoon! Such was the demand for the bassoon that I ended up in my first orchestra after only two lessons, knowing three notes, but it is certainly a way to make you learn quickly! I then started playing in the school orchestra and went on to study music at the University of Nottingham and since then, I’ve never looked back.
How did a Yorkshire lass like you end up in South East London?
I graduated in 2008 and was determined to work in the arts industry. Following a few experiences working at Buxton Opera Festival and Cheltenham Literary Festival, I finally landed a graduate traineeship with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. I then applied for the job of marketing assistant at Blackheath Halls. As I was the only person in the office responsible for marketing, it was quite a steep learning curve but it was great to be able to come up with new ideas and implement these. When Ruth Lepper, the Operations Manager, left last December, I applied for the post of Operations Manager and I really enjoy being responsible for the running of Blackheath Halls. It is a demanding and very busy job, but is very rewarding, I get to meet a lot of interesting people, and definitely a case of ‘never a dull moment’!
When did you first become involved in the Community Orchestra?
When Rose, Blackheath Halls Community Engagement Manager, heard that I was a bassoon player, she straightaway signed me up for the Community Orchestra. I have always enjoyed playing in orchestras and ensembles and this was the first opportunity I’d had to perform in an opera, with singing, acting and the whole shebang! It is a great way to make friends and it is really nice to be part of a local orchestra with people of all ages and backgrounds and seeing everyone getting so much out of it!