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Latest News

Chris Ling found dead by US Marshals working on abuse case

2 September 2015

Chris Ling, the former Chetham’s School of Music violin teacher who was facing extradition from the US over alleged abuse of pupils, was found dead yesterday by a team of US Marshals sent to arrest him. 

He is believed to have shot himself, aware that the team’s arrival likely signalled the beginning of a judicial process related to Greater Manchester Police’s investigation into historical abuse at Chetham's. 

The investigation has led to the convictions of former Chetham’s director of music Michael Brewer, Brewer’s ex-wife Hilary, former chamber orchestra conductor Nicholas Smith and double bass teacher Duncan McTier (who taught at various institutions including Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music). It has talked to at least 30 women, and in 2013 said it was investigating ‘about 10 offenders’. 

In June this year, former Chetham’s and RNCM violin teacher Malcolm Layfield was found not guilty of raping a former pupil. During his trial he admitted a number of ‘shameful’ consensual sexual relationships with students, the youngest of whom was 17. 

Ling had moved to the US in the 1990s and ran a successful classical and entertainment talent agency in Los Angeles.

Birmingham Conservatoire creates new harp position for Catrin Finch

1 September 2015

Catrin Finch
Catrin Finch© Sven Sindt

Birmingham Conservatoire has appointed Catrin Finch as its first international chair of harp. The Welsh-born harpist, who served as Royal Harpist to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales between 2000 and 2004, will join the conservatoire in September.

Conservatoire principal Julian Lloyd Webber said: 'We are delighted that Catrin is joining us as international chair of harp. There is no better – or better known – harpist in the world today and this is a clear indication of where Birmingham Conservatoire is heading.'

Head of strings Louise Lansdown said: 'This appointment places Birmingham Conservatoire at the international forefront of where to study the harp. An inspirational array of orchestral, chamber music, folk, jazz and other themed classes and workshops are planned.'

Fellow harpists Eleanor Turner and Katherine Thomas who will also join the institution's strings department. 

Finch also runs an annual academy and harp fun day which this year brought together 35 harp players of all ages.

Eleanor Gussman appointed chief executive of Spitalfields Music

27 August 2015

Eleanor Gussman has been appointed chief executive of Spitalfields Music.

Gussman will join the organisation from October 2015, leading its festivals and year-round learning and participation programme.

She previously spent eight years at the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), where she headed the LSO Discovery education programme.  

More recently, she has also acted as a consultant for clients including the London Sinfonietta and the Wellcome Trust.

The announcement comes at a busy time for Spitalfields Music as it prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2016.

In 2015, in addition to its Summer Festival, the charity also presented its first ever Takeover Spring Festival, curated and produced by pupils at three local Tower Hamlets schools.

Gussman said: ‘I am absolutely delighted to be joining Spitalfields Music in the lead-up to the 40th anniversary in 2016.

‘The organisation’s world-class programming, award-winning education programme and setting in the heart of East London make it irresistible.’

As Head of LSO Discovery, Gussman introduced a new digital platform, LSO Play, and a creative hub for composers at LSO St Luke’s, LSO Soundhub.

Under her leadership, the LSO gave 80 young musicians from East London the opportunity to perform in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

She also helped the orchestra to develop intergenerational community projects in collaboration with the Aix-en-Provence festival, and to embed creative music practice in classrooms across East London through a continuing professional development (CPD) programme.

ABRSM to launch Classical 100 web-based app for primary schools

26 August 2015

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) is planning to launch a new web-based app to introduce primary schoolchildren to classical music.

The Classical 100 app, which will give teachers access to 100 specially selected pieces of music, will be available to primary schools throughout England from November.

It is being developed in partnership with Classic FM and Decca, with the backing of the Department for Education.

A statement on the ABRSM website says: ‘At its simplest, you can listen to a recording of each piece, while sharing and exploring the story behind the music and its composer.

‘The list is also dynamic, allowing you to “sort” the repertoire by mood, instrument, tempo, historical period or in any other way that suits you.

‘In time, a range of downloadable resources will also be made available via the resource.

‘So however you choose to use it, we believe that Classical 100 will lead to more children discovering, appreciating and getting involved in music of all kinds from an early age.’

The news follows an announcement in April at Rhinegold’s Music Education Expo, where schools minister Nick Gibb said the government was working with partners to develop ‘a new list of 100 pieces of classical music that every child should be familiar with by the time they leave primary school’.

Nick Gibb announces plans at the Music Education Expo 2015 (from 7.57)

The list will feature orchestral, chamber music and choral pieces, including Mozart’s Horn Concerto No 4, the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus from Handel’s Messiah, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

It will also include contemporary works, such as Graham Fitkin’s Hook.

Håkan Hardenberger to give masterclass for students from three UK music colleges

25 August 2015

© Marco Borggreve

Students from three UK music colleges will get the chance to work alongside Håkan Hardenberger next year as part of a new partnership between the trumpeter and the Philharmonia Orchestra.

The orchestra’s Håkan Hardenberger series, called The Trumpet Shall Sound, will include a masterclass on 21 January at the Royal College of Music (RCM) with trumpet students from the RCM, Royal Academy of Music (RAM) and Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM).

One trumpeter from each of the conservatoires will work on and perform a contemporary British trumpet concerto by a composer associated with their institution: Mark-Anthony Turnage (RCM), Peter Maxwell Davies (RAM) and Harrison Birtwistle (RNCM).

The series will also see the Swedish trumpeter perform two major concertos and two free concerts at London’s Royal Festival Hall.

Hardenberger said: ‘My relationship with the Philharmonia goes back over 30 years and it’s an honour now to deepen this relationship by letting the trumpet sound with the orchestra in a wide spectrum over a short time.

‘To also be given the possibility within this frame to pass on some of my experience to the younger generation makes it even more enjoyable.’
David Whelton, managing director of the Philharmonia Orchestra, said: ‘Håkan is an inspirational figure in the music world.

‘His commitment to widening the repertoire for the trumpet, and his enthusiasm for his instrument and new music particularly, sets the standard by which other trumpeters are judged.’


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