Play icon

Nicola Benedetti and friends perform Ernest Bloch’s “Prayer”

This exclusive live recording took place at Kemps House, the home of Maker&Son and Founder Alex Willcock


‘Prayer’, captured in a unique recording made for Maker & Son by violinist Nicola Benedetti and friends, began life as the second movement of Ernest Bloch’s suite ‘From Jewish Life’. Originally scored for cello and piano, this new arrangement for violin and string quartet was commissioned by founder Alex Willcock after discovering the piece earlier this year and was deeply affected by its melancholy beauty. We are truly grateful for this very special friendship, and the ability to share this experience.

You can download this track by making a donation to the Benedetti Foundation. Click below for more information.


Nicola and Alex talk together at Kemps House about music in their lives, the selection of this piece, and why it means so much to both of them


Directly inspired by a spiritual yearning and his Jewish faith, composer Ernest Bloch aspired to produce music of vitality and significance.


So much of the story unfolds during the making of the making. We felt very privileged to host such a talented and inspiring group of musicians.


Music has always been an important part of Alex’s life, and we are grateful he has brought it to life in Maker&Son as well.

“Sometimes you go deeper to come up”


Music at the heart

With so much going on in the world today – in so many ways – it’s natural to feel a sense of melancholy, or mourning. And yet, the experiences we are having are also encouraging us to reflect, to share and learn from each other, and to communicate in different ways.

The poignancy of these times and the ability of this piece to capture this zeitgeist led to the making of this new arrangement of “Prayer”, by Ernest Bloch. A composer that was so admired in his day, many considered him to be the fourth ‘B’ after Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.

Through their deep love of classical music, Maker&Son Founder Alex Willcock and acclaimed violinist Nicola Benedetti began exploring ways of working together. Most importantly, they both want to find ways to share the emotion and the experience that very special music can offer both the performers and the listeners. Some music has a very unique and extraordinary way of elevating an experience, offering complete immersion and connection with the moment, and this is the gift they hope to share, by working in partnership.

In this interview, Alex and Nicola talk about the serendipitous events that connected them and led to working together. “Our hope is that we can share the experience and the emotional connection that we both have with classical music, with as many people as possible. We hope to share our passion and to offer that experience, or sense of being completely immersed in beautiful music.”


Unite, Inspire, Educate

From uniting those who believe music is integral to great learning, to inspiring through best practices, the Benedetti Foundation is showcasing music education at its very best. By advocating (loudly and with great spirit) for the place of quality arts and culture in our schools and our home, the foundation – through it’s tutors, teams, trustees and the enormous following it has engendered – is transforming the meaning of music for everyone involved.

Maker&Son are such great believers in what the Benedetti Foundation are doing, and the way that they are doing it. The honesty, the humanity and the integrity that drives each and every workshop is a true privilege with which to be associated. We encourage you to learn more and to give generously to the Benedetti Foundation in gratitude of all they are doing to elevate music education for all ages.

Through musical journeys the Benedetti Foundation is teaching the world to embrace our similarities whilst celebrating our differences. Nicola Benedetti and her talented team of musicians and educators are showing us all that we are capable of holding this duality in our hearts and minds


Music of vitality

Composer Ernest Bloch combined his globetrotting musical life with a profound spiritual yearning. Born in Geneva in 1880, he studied in Brussels and moved to the US in 1916, eventually settling in Portland, Oregon, where he died in 1959. Though famous in his lifetime for large-scale works like the opera Macbeth (1910), Bloch is lesser known these days yet some of his rhapsodic song-like compositions – notably Schelomo for cello and orchestra (1916) – are still part of the concert repertoire today. Despite being influenced by some of the leading composers of his time – including Mahler, Debussy and his teacher, violinist Eugène Ysaye – his music was essentially a late flowering of Romanticism.

Bloch strongly identified with his Jewish faith and wrote several works directly inspired by Jewish liturgy and folklore, among them Schelomo for cello and orchestra (1916), Israel for orchestra (1916), and Baal Shem for violin and orchestra (1939).. ‘I aspire to write Jewish music – not for the sake of self-advertisement, but because I am sure that this is the only way in which I can produce music of vitality and significance’, he suggested.

Ernest Bloch’s ‘Prayer’, captured in this unique recording made for Maker & Son by violinist Nicola Benedetti and friends, began life as the second movement of Bloch’s suite ‘From Jewish Life’ (1924). It’s fervent melody echoes that of the traditional Ashkenazy-Jewish ‘hymn of petition’. It was originally scored for cello and piano, this is the first time it has been arranged for violin and string quartet.


Music together

Whilst a musical performance is undoubtedly where the magic happens for the audience, there is just so much that goes into the making of a memorable event. We were so fortunate to host this very talented group of musicians at Kemps House. From arranging the furniture to gathering firewood, lighting candles, and making (yes making!) music stands, the anticipation of spending an afternoon/evening together was only surmounted by the reality of the laughter and connection of good friends making music together.

Like many things in life, making things with people that you love and respect personally, just makes it more enjoyable. The musicians involved in bringing this piece of music to life here include dear friends and colleagues of Nicola, including the Ayoub sisters – who arranged the piece – Yume Fujise on 1st violin, Charlie Westhoff on 2nd violin, Jenny Lewisohn on viola and Ariane Zandi on cello.

Play icon

There is a wonderful dynamic between the players, there are truly some beautiful moments and it’s clear that they all know each other’s sound and style very well. When that passion is real, it’s incredible how the energy just takes off and music seems to make itself.


Guiding principles

Demonstrating an innate musical talent from a young age, Alex received a scholarship to study classical music at Eton College – just a few years after picking up the violin. He has brought his appreciation of music, both classical and classic, to everything he believes in.

When Alex founded Maker&Son with Felix, together they made a simple decision – to do what they loved, in the way they loved doing it, with the people that they loved. For some the relationship between music and business that sells sofas isn’t immediately evident, but for those that know Alex and his deep love of music, the two sit in perfect harmony.

Well-constructed music and well-constructed furniture are both made to last a lifetime. The whole purpose of a really comfortable sofa is to be really relaxed… and when you’re really relaxed, you get into this beautiful state. A state not dissimilar to that we find in the purpose behind really emotive music.