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Southbank Centre War Requiem project wins RPS Music Award

6 May 2015

© Hana Zushi-Rhodes

The Southbank Centre’s Britten’s War Requiem project has won the Learning and Participation award at the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Music Awards. 

The project, which took place in November 2014, was part of a day of activities to mark the 100th anniversary of World War One.  

Talks and workshops were held throughout the day and in the evening the work was performed by the Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop (pictured). 

The judges said: ‘Britten’s War Requiem at the Southbank Centre was a truly immersive experience introducing, exploring and ultimately performing Britten’s epic War Requiem.   

‘An ambitious project encompassing talks, participatory workshops, films and the creation of a new children’s choir. The Southbank team – including the committed input of Marin Alsop – drew participants of all ages and experience into the creative and rehearsal process.  

‘The project reflected the profound nature of Britten’s work and was distinctive for its overall quality and its attention to detail.’ 

Other winners included the Philharmonia Orchestra’s iOrchestra, which won the Audiences and Engagement award, and the Royal Opera’s Opera Machine, which took the Creative Communication prize.

BBC Ten Pieces extended to secondary schools

6 May 2015, Katy Wright

The BBC’s Ten Pieces will be extended to secondary schools from October 2015.

The initiative, which has worked with nearly half of UK primary schools, launched in the autumn term of 2014 with a week of free cinema screenings for primary schools across the country. 

The scheme invites young people to respond to a selection of works (including Mussorgsky's Night on the Bare Mountain and 'Storm' from Britten's Peter Grimes) through music, dance or digital art. 

A new film will feature footage of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra performing the chosen pieces (which the BBC will announce within weeks).

Cinema booking for secondary schools opened last month, with screenings taking place from October. Curriculum-linked resources will be available on the Ten Pieces website, with DVDs posted to schools on request.

BBC Ten Pieces

One in four adults keen to learn a musical instrument, NIACE survey reveals

5 May 2015

© Shutterstock

Almost a quarter of adults would like to learn a musical instrument, according to a survey by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE).

In the run-up to its Festival of Learning, which takes place throughout May and June, NIACE asked 1,018 adults which skills they would be most interested in learning.

Learning to play a musical instrument was the second most popular answer, cited by 23 per cent of respondents. The top answer was baking, chosen by 39 per cent.

Fifty per cent of the respondents polled said they would be prepared to take up a course to enable them to improve their skills, with 60 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds interested in taking up a course.

Singing was chosen by 17 per cent of respondents. Other areas of interest included photography, languages and dance.

David Hughes, chief executive of NIACE, said: ‘All of the top skills people would love to learn most are about people expressing themselves, who they are, what they stand for.

‘The confidence learning those skills brings is crucial for everyone in life and in work. That’s why we will continue to campaign for lifelong learning to be truly accessible for everyone.’

Paul McManus, chief executive Music for All, said: ‘We know that making music enriches and changes lives. You are never too old to start to learn (or return to playing) an instrument.’

The Festival of Learning started on 1 May and culminates in Adult Learners’ Week on 13-19 June.

NYCGB announces new summer festival

1 May 2015, Katy Wright

The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain have announced the biggest youth choir festival in the UK, the NYCGB Summerfest, in an effort to bring choral music to new listeners.

The inaugural Summerfest will take place 1 July-29 August 2012, with over 500 young singers performing in seven counties over two months. Under 25s will be able to purchase £5 tickets for many events.

The festival is part of NYCGB's expansion of its regional engagement work, with new partnerships in Suffolk, Manchester, Leeds, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire beginning in 2015. The series of concerts aim to target areas of low choral engagement in the UK through partnerships with local music education hubs.

Summerfest opens with a Shakespeare-inspired programme in Southwark Cathedral on 1st July, with the National Youth Chamber Choir and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra performing works by Vaughan Williams, Ward Swingle, and Nils Lindberg, as well as the premiere of Pete Churchill's Journey's End.

Two other premieres, Nico Muhly's settings of poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson and Jonathan Dove's Antiphon (setting text by George Herbert, commissioned by NYCGB) will be performed by the National Youth Girls' Choir and the National Youth Chamber Choir on 22nd August in Oxford's Sheldonian Theatre.

The National Youth Choir will make its Snape Proms debut on Friday 28th August with a programme inspired by the four elements. Ranging from Brumel to John Casken, the concert will include Anders Edenroth's Water, written for the choir.

NYCGB director Ben Parry said: 'NYCGB is passionate about getting as many people as possible in the UK to experience great choral music. Summer festivals are synonymous with openness, inclusivity and an enjoyable atmosphere. By creating NYCGB Summerfest, we aim to raise awareness of NYCGB’s work around the UK, to encourage an ever wider audience to experience choral music, and to inspire the next generation of choral singers.'

The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain is comprised of five choirs, made up of 750 singers aged between 9 and 25. The organisation aims to foster musical talent through teaching and guidance, providing opportunities to young people from all communities and backgrounds.

National Youth Choirs of Great Britain

Schools receive donated instruments after Don't Stop the Music campaign

1 May 2015

Primary schools across the UK have received £1m worth of donated musical instruments thanks to a campaign led by pianist James Rhodes.
Rhodes launched the Don’t Stop the Music campaign last year to encourage the British public to donate their unwanted musical instruments to local Oxfam stores.

His efforts were filmed for a two-part Channel 4 documentary, Don’t Stop the Music, which was broadcast in September.

The campaign resulted in the donation of 6,500 instruments, which have now been delivered by parcel carrier Yodel to 170 primary schools across the country.

Don’t Stop the Music was supported by celebrities including Paul McCartney, Jessie J, Damon Albarn, Tom Jones, Tinie Tempah and Ronnie Wood.
Rhodes said: ‘Young children have a hunger and thirst to learn music and we must give every child the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. 

‘The campaign has helped make this a reality for thousands of kids up and down the country.’
Lin Phillips, headteacher of Falconbrook Primary School in Battersea, London, which received some of the instruments, commented: ‘Thanks to the brilliant Don’t Stop the Music campaign, we have started a new band which gives the children another opportunity to play in assemblies and concerts.

‘I’d like to thank all those who donated instruments, as well as James Rhodes, Yodel and all those who made the amnesty happen. You’ve helped change lives and your instruments have gone to a fantastic new home.’


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