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Latest News

Farnham Youth Choir triumphs at World Choir Games

27 July 2012

Farnham Youth Choir (FYC) has returned to the UK after winning Gold and Silver medals at the World Choir Games, held this year in Cincinnati, USA.

An upper-voice community choir of 43 singers (40 girls and 3 boys), FYC was the sole UK representative at the games, having been invited to represent the UK by the Association of British Choral Directors. FYC’s co-founder and musical director David Victor-Smith said: 'We simply could not have performed better, which is all one can ever ask for. Every member of the choir upped their game for the performance and suddenly all the hard work, the sacrifices, the pre-competition nerves and anxiety vanished into a collective euphoria!'
Choir member Elizabeth, 17, said: 'Just knowing that months of hard work and concentration had worked out to create something beautiful... it was amazingly satisfying. A standing ovation after our last number, Las Amarillas - with everyone crying and hugging afterwards - nothing could have brought us down from that high!'

After its success in Cincinatti, FYC travelled to Connecticut to give a fundraising concert. The choir concluded its tour with a 40-minute recital of sacred music at St Paul’s Chapel, Ground Zero, New York.


Four new In Harmony projects revealed

16 July 2012

The Department for Education (DfE) and Arts Council England (ACE) have released details of four new In Harmony projects, the result of a government call, in last year’s National Plan for Music, for the In Harmony programme to be extended.

The new projects will be based in Gateshead, Leeds, Nottingham and Telford. They will be run by The Sage Gateshead, Opera North, Nottingham City Council and Telford & Wrekin Music Service. Each will be funded from September 2012 until March 2015, in line with renewed funding for the existing In Harmony projects in Lambeth and Liverpool. The third of the original In Harmony projects, In Harmony Norwich, has not had its funding renewed.

The DfE will invest a total of £500,000 per project between 2012 and 2015. This will be matched by ACE, which will also take a central coordinating and development role. The projects will receive £250,000 for 2012-13, £150,000 for 2013-14 and £100,000 for 2014-15.

In Harmony aims to use orchestral music-making to bring positive change to the lives of children and their communities in disadvantaged areas, based on methods developed over 35 years by Venezuela’s El Sistema programme.  ‘I am confident that the organisations that we have selected will embrace the spirit of El Sistema and will work tirelessly to bring positive change to the children and their communities,’ said Julian Lloyd Webber, founder of the In Harmony programme and chairman of In Harmony Sistema England.

A statement from ACE said: ‘All six In Harmony projects will be encouraged to be entrepreneurial and to inspire other investment to help secure a sustainable longer-term future. They will operate within a national evaluation framework to ensure they provide evidence demonstrating how the In Harmony approach can transform the lives of children and their families in areas of deprivation.’


New composition competition 'A Carol for Christmas' launched

12 July 2012

A new carol competition has been launched for composers of all ages and experience. The winning entries will be performed in King's College Chapel, Cambridge by choirs from across the UK with guest presenter Tim Lihoreau.

Participating choirs, which are supported by The King’s Singers Foundation, include Inner Voices, Quay Voices, CBSO Young Voices and King's Junior Voices. There is also a separate competition for composers to write a piece for the a cappella ensemble, The King's Singers.

Each winner will receive a prize of £250 and two tickets to the performance on 18 December, where they will be presented with a certificate. They also have the chance to be published by Novello & Co Ltd.

On the afternoon of the concert, Stephen Cleobury, John Rutter and The King's Singers will work with the winning composers of the Community Choir and SATB Choir composition categories in a workshop. All composers who enter can attend as observers and The King's Singers will premiere the winning six-part a cappella composition as part of the programme for the evening concert.

Entries will be judged by Stephen Cleobury, director of music, Choir of King's College, Cambridge, John Rutter, composer, conductor and record producer, and David Hurley of The King's Singers.

The closing date for entries is 31 August and the winning entrants will be notified by 1 October. All entrants will be invited to attend and observe the afternoon event on 18 December at King's College Chapel.


OCR marking errors affect AS and A2 music students

12 July 2012

More than 250 pupils, including three A level music students, are to have their exam results changed after the OCR exam board admitted finding mistakes in the adding up of sub-totals of exams taken in the summer of 2011.

180 schools are affected and the exams involved are A2s, AS and GCSE. Of the music students whose grades have been changed, one was at A2 and two at AS level. All involved a one-grade improvement.

Mark Dawe, OCR's chief executive, said he would 'like to apologise again to all the schools, students and parents affected' and that he is 'confident that new checking processes will ensure a higher level of clerical accuracy'.  OCR says four examiners have had their contracts terminated and a further 78 have been told to improve their performance.

It is not known if any university applications were affected by the incorrect grades.

Volunteers needed for pioneering hearing study

12 July 2012

Researchers in Nottingham are recruiting 2,000 volunteers for a large-scale study which aims to find out if loud music really does wreck your hearing.

Experts at the National Institute for Health Research at the University of Nottingham say that surprisingly little research has actually been done into how sustained exposure to loud music affects our hearing in the long term, and that the results which are available are far from conclusive.

The new research project is the first to explicitly examine the effect of long-term exposure to loud music. Volunteers will carry out the 20-minute test online via the unit’s internet research portal. An anonymous questionnaire first collects data on hearing status, other factors that may have caused hearing damage and — most importantly — a lifelong history of music exposure in different environments, including gigs, pubs, clubs and using personal music players.

The volunteers then take a hearing test on their home computer, which measures the ability to hear a set of numbers against a background noise. Used together, the two sets of information allow the team to investigate the true long-term risk of music-induced hearing loss.

The researchers are particularly looking to attract those who work in quiet environments, to rule out some alternative factors in hearing loss. They are looking for the support of large companies to promote the study to their staff. Volunteers should be aged between 30 and 65 — old enough to have been exposed to more loud music than the average teenager, but young enough to be unaffected by age-related hearing loss.

PhD student Robert Mackinnon, who is carrying out the study, said: 'While we are frequently cautioned about the risks of loud music in popular culture and mainstream media, at present the threat remains exactly that — a risk. There simply isn’t enough scientific evidence at present to convincingly confirm or dismiss the danger of music-induced hearing loss.

'The only way we can assess the risk is to specifically gather evidence from an older generation of music listeners who have not just had a few exposures to loud music, but have potentially spent a lifetime exposing themselves to it.

'The results of this study will not just be used to help answer the question of if music exposure is damaging, but how much it is damaging. This will allow us to begin to better define safe listening limits — prevention is better than cure.'

More information is available from Robert Mackinnon, in the National Institute for Health Research National Biomedical Research Unit in Hearing on 0115 823 2600, or at msxrm1@nottingham.ac.uk.

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