The Martyn Bennett Trust was set up in 2005 by Martyn’s family and friends. The MBT was set up to be a space and forum for people who feel inspired by Martyn, as a musician, and also as a person with a remarkable and unique outlook on music, his own cultural background, and on the times we live in.
The MBT aims to reflect Martyn’s vision of music through supporting performances, commissions, new recordings and educational projects. In setting up the MBT, we thought about Martyn’s characteristics as a musician and as a person, and how we could reflect these in the projects we run and the events we hold. Among these characteristics are freedom, innovation and creativity, boldness, honesty, grit, breaking through boundaries, brilliant musicianship and a deep connection to Scottish culture(s) with a real appreciation of the cultures of others, especially those that are marginalised and threatened.
Through the involvement of so many great people, over the last few years, the MBT has managed to hold some superb events and performances, to support the creation of new music and to run valuable projects both in Scotland and overseas.
Martyn's music has left an impressive legacy; inspiring and stimulating so many musicians and other artists to new heights and to break new ground, in playing, composing and arranging music. Martyn's performances will happily endure in the memories those who saw him play, here in Scotland, and across the world. And his energy, freedom and creativity in thinking about, and making, music still brings together artists and audiences in innovative and ground breaking experiences and forms of expression. Martyn remains a prime mover in the evolution of Scotland’s music in so many ways.
Alongside Martyn's own mastery of many different genres and instruments, a vital characteristic of his music was its eclecticism and freedom in transcending the boundaries of place, culture, generations, audience divisions, past and present. Martyn's is a music of paradox: ordered and disordered, serious and playful, anarchic but full of integrity, loss and celebration. While rejoicing in or raging at the present, it simultaneously opens a channel to the historical and mythical past, unearthing ancient and marginalised voices to let their vibrancy, eloquence and spirit resound alongside hard-core beats and grooves.
Martyn understood music as an agent for human connectedness in an often fragmented society that is out of touch with both its own traditions and those of other cultures. Martyn was rooted in the cultural traditions of Scotland and he played and thought within these traditions, but with the freedom to move across, and draw from many other genres. Martyn often spoke about the idea of 'cultural equity' in relation to the music he created and he was deeply aware of the value of the richness and particularity of cultures that are sometimes overwhelmed, or marginalised by mainstream culture.
The MBT therefore supports musicians who seek, through the medium of music, to bring the spirit, eloquence and beauty of marginalised voices and cultures to audiences that might otherwise never be aware of them.
The question of how to capture the mercurial spirit of someone like Martyn Bennett, 'the formidably musical piper, fiddler, composer and mixing magician' is one which will be an on-going challenge!