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Opera North and the RNCM announce new partnership

31 January 2012

Opera North, the Leeds-based opera company, and Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music have announced a new partnership, aimed at nurturing and inspiring young musical talent in the North.

As well as raising awareness of career paths available to students, the partnership will offer hands-on experience of auditions and mentoring from singers working at Opera North. Students will also benefit from opportunities to experience the breadth of Opera North’s programming, from main stage operas to more eclectic and contemporary work presented in the Howard Assembly Room. In turn, Opera North will have a base in Manchester from which to  develop its artistic programming and outreach work, giving both partners the opportunity to work together artistically outside their usual boundaries.

Richard Mantle, general director of Opera North, said that the company has enjoyed a long association with the RNCM and that many of its alumni appear regularly with the company. 'This new partnership takes our relationship to a new level and one which will bind the two organisations together in a way which will strengthen us both as we collaborate to develop talent, professionalism and creativity in the world of opera and music,' he said.

Opera North has been working on an informal basis with the RNCM over the last three decades, regularly hearing students recommended by the college's vocal department, but the formal partnership will now allow for tailored and more structured programmes to be created for individual students. Lynne Dawson, the RNCM’s head of vocal studies, has sung with Opera North and is 'delighted' about the collaboration. 'This will present a wonderful opportunity for our young singers to have contact with the real world. We're hugely looking forward to working together,' she said.

An event to celebrate the new partnership will be held at the RNCM on 29 February, featuring a short performance by artists from Opera North’s current production of Giulio Cesare, Kathryn Rudge and Ann Taylor, both of whom are alumni of the RNCM. Opera North’s Norma will be performed later that evening at The Lowry, Salford Quays.

Oundle School and Royal College of Music launch new partnership

30 January 2012

Pupils at Oundle School in Northamptonshire are to benefit from a new partnership with the Royal College of Music (RCM). The partnership will see them working with professors and students from the college, both in Oundle and in London.
The link between the two institutions was marked by a concert, involving primary and secondary-age Oundle pupils and college students. Works included Grieg’s Holberg Suite and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, as well as James MacMillan’s Second Piano Concerto, performed by students from the RCM.

'As a school we are honoured to have our name linked with the Royal College of Music,' said Andrew Forbes, director of music at Oundle School. 'We have now worked with the Royal College on three separate occasions and are delighted to have made this formal link. We are very excited about the prospect of closer liaison in the future.'

Mark Messenger, head of strings at the RCM, said: 'It is exciting to find a school which shares the same values and aspirations for their students as we do at the Royal College of Music. What was demonstrated in our concert together was commitment, energy, enthusiasm, discipline and enjoyment. I look forward to making music together in the future.'

Royal Opera House launches third fanfare competition

30 January 2012

The Royal Opera House has launched Fanfare, its annual online competition for young people to compose a fanfare to be played at the end of the interval, to let audiences know that it is time for them to take their seats.

This is the third year that the competition has been organised, and it is designed to nurture composing talent in young people through 'a fun and creative approach to music-making.' Entries must be no more than 30 seconds long. Iindividuals or small groups can enter in two categories, ages 11–14 and 14–16, and the closing date is 23 March. The ten winning compositions will be announced in the week commencing 9 April, and workshops, with a composer and musicians from the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, will be held the following week.

The orchestra, conducted by Antonio Pappano, will record the final fanfares on 19 May, with the public premiere of the winning fanfares at the Royal Opera House on 30 June. The recordings will be heard throughout 2012-13, before and during the intervals of ballet and opera performances at Covent Garden.



Mayor of London's Music Fund gives 100 scholarships

30 January 2012

One hundred primary school musicians from all parts of London have been awarded scholarships totalling £400,000 by the Mayor of London's Fund for Young Musicians (MFYM).
The scholarships have been established to help children who show outstanding potential and commitment to learning an instrument but whose families struggle to pay for lessons. As well as weekly tuition, the young musicians will be given a mentor and be offered performance opportunities and membership of ensembles. Scheduled special events include work with MFYM patrons, including trumpet virtuoso Alison Balsom and beatboxer Shlomo.

The fund is awarding a further £100,000 to fund six Music Partnerships, to give thousands of seven- to 18-year-olds opportunities to learn and perform with professional musicians. These partnerships bring together 19 borough music services, six professional music groups including London orchestras, and music college students.

MFYM chief executive Ginny Greenwood said: 'Thanks to the enormous generosity of individuals and businesses around London, every single Mayor’s music scholar will receive up to four years of intensive musical learning. These are the most talented students who would have to stop learning without our support. By 2016 we hope to be funding up to 1,000 young scholars.'

Every music scholar will receive approximately four hours of music tuition a week in addition to that provided within the curriculum. They will have access to instruments, small-group tuition during the school day and after school, attendance at Saturday morning music centres and the opportunity to perform in and attend concerts.

One of the recipients, Emmanuel Bugyei, 11, from Tottenham, gave up violin lessons because his parents couldn’t afford them. 'When I heard that I was going to get a scholarship, I was lost for words,' he said. His parents said the scholarship 'could not have come at a better time.' Emmanuel's teacher at West Green Primary in Tottenham, Vicky Miller, said he was 'the most talented musician I have come across in many years'. He also plays the guitar and keyboards.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who is MFYM’s founder patron, said: 'We know that learning a musical instrument can have a powerful impact on a child's life, helping in their social, emotional and academic development. Sadly, too many families in London cannot afford to pay for music lessons, even for very talented children. By investing in these scholarships and partnerships programmes, the fund will be enriching the lives of thousands of children and also make sure London remains the top city in the world for all kinds of music. I wish these talented young people every success.'

MYFM hopes to raise up to £1m, with a series of fundraising events planned throughout 2012. In return for an annual commitment of £1,000, benefactors are paired with a scholar, receiving regular reports and an invitation to special concerts, so that they are involved in the child’s musical development.


Live Music Bill passes final stages

27 January 2012

The Live Music Bill has now passed through its final stages in the House of Commons, needing only a rubber stamp from the House of Lords before it becomes law.

The Bill aims to make it easier for small venues to put on live performances. Many organisations, including schools, are put off running live events because of excessive bureaucracy. The Bill states that an exemption to the Licensing Act should take place when 'the live music entertainment takes place in the presence of an audience of no more than 200 persons'. This will reduce both the cost and the amount of form-filling for small venues wishing to put on live music.

The Bill has been supported by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and the Musicians’ Union (MU). John Smith, the MU's general secretary, said he was delighted that it had finally made it through parliament.

'It is a real achievement for a Private Member’s Bill to get through and the MU would like to thank Lord Clement Jones, Don Foster and all of the other MPs who helped to pass this Bill.

'Over the past few years, our members have been telling us that the number of gigs available to young musicians who are still perfecting their craft has gone down. This is primarily due to a reduction in the number of smaller venues which traditionally offered this level of gig and is directly linked to the Licensing Act. The exemption that the Live Music Bill introduces will be hugely beneficial to these small venues.'

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