New home for City of Belfast Music School
16 December 2009
The City of Belfast Music School has relocated to a new home in the city after nearly four-and-a-half decades in its original location. The new premises are on the Fortwilliam campus previously occupied by Castle High School on the northern edge of the city, overlooking Belfast Lough.
The move will provide the school with room for expansion and considerably improved access, says Head of Music Services Dr Joe McKee. ‘Not only do we have better facilities for our students, but our new location makes it safer for everyone using the school than before, when we were situated on a busy city-centre thoroughfare.’
Founded in 1965, the school is one of Northern Ireland’s five music service organisations and is currently funded by the Belfast Education and Library Board. Its original premises, a one-time primary school, ‘were a tight fit to begin with,’ says McKee, ‘and our much, much bigger new site gives us more scope to do things we couldn’t before. We’ve already had a couple of our own concerts in the building because we now have a big enough hall to do that, whereas before we had to go to venues outside’.
With just 13 full-time staff and a growing roster of part-time teachers, the school currently works with 5,600 students and musicians in its mixed programme of daytime and evening classes, and its various bands and orchestras, one of which, from its World Music department, recently performed in Senegal, while another participated in the Last Night of the School’s Prom at the Royal Albert Hall in November.
The site is shared with an Ulster Orchestra composition programme, the multi-media creative education group Studio ON, an incoming dance company and a local autism support group. ‘There’s a better buzz about the place,’ says McKee. Because we don’t have ‘out-centres’ now during the week, professional musicians and teachers and students mill in an out of the school together, particularly in the first half of the week when every room is occupied’.
The new facilities also include a homework study room and quiet rooms for parents to work in while waiting for classes to end. In early 2010, responsibility for the school will pass to a new single Education and Skills Authority when the five existing regional Education and Library Boards are merged as a result of a root-and-branch reorganisation of Northern Ireland’s local government structures.
In Harmony children take to the stage
16 December 2009
Children from England’s three In Harmony projects in London, Liverpool and Norwich have given winter concerts to mark the end of their first year of learning musical instruments. The programme is a movement for social change through orchestral music, set up in response to interest in Venezuela’s El Sistema.
Schools minister Diana Johnson (pictured, with In Harmony director Julian Lloyd Webber and children from the scheme) attended the concert on 7 December at Herbert Morrison Primary School in the London Borough of Lambeth. More than 100 children came together as an orchestra to showcase their developing musical talents on the cello, violin and viola. Lloyd Webber accompanied the children on his cello, playing ‘In the Bleak Mid-Winter’ and their own composition ‘Dessi’s Dance’.
‘It is wonderful to see just how much these children have progressed over such a short space of time,’ he said. ‘I have had total belief in the In Harmony programme from the beginning and it’s wonderful to see those dreams being realised now. The children are more confident today, they’re working brilliantly together as a team and you can see how eager they are to learn. Having just been to Venezuela and seen the effect El Sistema has had there, I am more determined than ever to give all our children the opportunity to experience music.’
Diana Johnson said: ‘Music is at the very heart of British popular culture – it’s what children talk about, and it’s what they aspire to. But far from just being about who gets voted off The X Factor each week, or who is top of the album charts, music can also be a powerful agent of social change. It teaches discipline, raises hopes and aspirations, is a source of enjoyment and also gives young people skills that will stay with them for life. This is why we’re investing £330million to give primary school children access to a range of musical instruments and free tuition for at least a year – and longer if they show an interest.
‘This is the first ever National Year of Music, and we want more young people than ever to get involved in the fantastic musical opportunities that are on offer in this country. The In Harmony programme is just one of these opportunities, and I’ve seen first-hand today here at the Herbert Morrison Primary School what remarkable talent we’re nurturing and the impact music is having on these young people and their community.’
Similar concerts, both attended by Julian Lloyd Webber, took place on 10 December in Liverpool and on 3 December at youth venue OPEN in Norwich, where the children were accompanied by Chamber Orchestra Anglia. ‘We feel In Harmony Norwich is progressing really well,’ says its Director, Marcus Patteson. ‘Already we are seeing and hearing that it is making a difference to the lives of the children we are working with.’
Meanwhile In Harmony Lambeth has unveiled a Portacabin on the Lansdowne Green estate which has been set up to enable teenagers on the estate to record their own music and also performances by the In Harmony participants from local primary schools. Tutors from In Harmony gave a short performance and party for local people on 27 November to thank them for their support for the initiative.
Gamelan orchestra seeks new home in Glasgow
2 December 2009
Spirit of Hope gamelan, a Javanese gamelan set owned by Glasgow City Council, is seeking a new home. The instruments were brought to the city as part of the European City of Culture programme in 1990. Naga Mas, a community group that runs a programme of gamelan performances and workshops throughout the year, hopes to find partners with whom to collaborate and share space in order that the instruments can continue to be played and enjoyed by a wide range of people. More information, including space requirements, can be found at www.nagamas.co.uk or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org www.nagamas.co.uk
London String Quartet Foundation’s Symposia for Young String Quartets announced
2 December 2009
Applications are open for the London String Quartet Foundation’s Symposia for Young String Quartets in February (Manchester) and April (London).
The Manchester Symposium will take place from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 February at Chetham’s School of Music. Faculty will include Pavel Fischer (founding 1st violin of the Skampa Quartet), Mark Messenger (violin, Bochmann Quartet, Head of Strings, Royal College of Music), Christoph Richter (cellist of the Heine Quartet, professor of cello at Essen Hochschule and European Chamber Music Academy faculty member), Raphael Todes (2nd violin of the Allegri Quartet), Graham Oppenheimer (founder and former violist of the Schidlof Quartet, senior chamber music tutor and viola teacher Chetham's School of Music), Nicholas Jones (former cellist of the Bochmann Quartet, Head of Strings at Chetham's School of Music and RNCM cello faculty member) and the Carducci String Quartet. Places are available for up to 16 school-age quartets and three advanced-level quartets. Applications close on Friday 1 January.
The London Symposium will take place from Friday 9 to Sunday 11 April at the Royal Academy of Music. 12 quartets will work with up to six tutors over three days, culminating in a performance on Sunday evening. The tutors are drawn from the highest level of international chamber music performance, including Marc Johnson (cellist, Vermeer Quartet), András Keller (violin, Keller Quartet), Johannes Meissl (violin, Artis Quartet), Christoph Richter (cellist, Heine Quartet), Hariolf Schlichtig (viola, ex-Cherubini Quartet) and Roger Tapping (viola, ex-Allegri and Takács Quartets). Both the masterclasses and the final performance are open to the public; admission is free. 12 quartet places are available for undergraduate and postgraduate quartets who have not yet started a professional career. Applications close on 15 January. For further information, email LSQF on email@example.com. www.playquartet.com
Sir Peter Mawell Davies becomes patron of University of Manchester Music Society
2 December 2009
Manchester music students have appointed composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies as patron of their society. Professor Phillip Grange, Head of Music at The University of Manchester said, 'This is a major coup for our students and we heartily congratulate them. Max studied at the University of Manchester between 1952 and 1957 and is undoubtedly the most famous alumnus of the Music Department.' David Tagg-Oram, president of The University of Manchester Music Society, added, 'We are extremely honoured to have Max as our patron, and to benefit from his insight and experience - especially as he was originally a performer, musicologist and composer in Manchester.'
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