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National Youth Orchestra to headline Varèse 360 festival at London's Southbank Centre

17 February 2010

The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYO) is to headline the Southbank Centre’s Varèse 360 festival in its largest ever incarnation. The orchestra will field a 175-strong ensemble to perform Varèse’s gigantic Amériques on 18 April at the Royal Festival Hall, as part of a weekend of concerts that will showcase the composer’s output in its entirety. 17-year-old NYO violinist James Wicks said, ‘Playing Varese is a unique musical experience – the sound worlds that surround you are incredible. I’m thrilled that the NYO are going to be headlining this festival and am very excited to be a part of it. The size of the NYO will add yet more excitement, and indeed volume, to what is already going to be one of the highlights of my year.’

The Varèse 360 festival is part of the Southbank Centre’s larger Ether festival, dedicated to cross-arts experimentation and innovation. To this end, the NYO’s performance will be accompanied by a visual installation by Cathie Boyd, a director who specialises in the visual staging of music. According to NYO Director of Communications James Murphy, the installation promises ‘not to intrude, but to concentrate the listener.’

The NYO will use the 18 April concert to unveil its new stage attire, which will remain a closely-guarded secret until the day itself. Players currently perform in smart black; Murphy was prepared to reveal that the colour would not change but that the new costume would ‘capture a bit more of the teenage spirit’. Putting careful thought into presentation is part of the NYO’s commitment to innovation, which, says Murphy, means asking questions such as ‘Will concerts always look and feel the way they do now, and should the NYO lead the way for change?’

The orchestra will perform more music by Varèse alongside works by Debussy on 16 April at The Sage Gateshead (TSG), as part of TSG’s Brave New Worlds festival which explores the two composers’ connections. All under-25s can get £5 tickets for this concert, and there are a number of similar tickets available for the Royal Festival Hall concert. Both concerts will be conducted by Paul Daniel. Visit the websites for more information and to book.




John Woolrich appointed to run Dartington International Summer School

16 February 2010

Composer John Woolrich has been announced as the new artistic director of Dartington International Summer School, in succession to Gavin Henderson who steps down in August at the end of this year's summer school and festival.

Founded in 1953 at Dartington Hall near Totnes, Devon, the event is held over five weeks in July and August and attracts more than 1,600 music-makers annually from across the globe for its programme of masterclasses, workshops and concerts, catering for all ranges of ability, from beginners and amateurs to conservatoires students and professional musicians. 'It was at Dartington that my group, the Composers Ensemble, was given time, space and encouragement to experiement and develop, so I really do appreciate how important the opportunities are that the summer school provides to participants, both in terms of structured playing and learning, as well as the non-structured opportunities, presented by chance meetings and informal networking amongst some of the world’s most promising musicians,' said Woolrich, who has been associated with Dartington for 25 years. He founded the Composers Ensemble in 1991, is artistic associate of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and has been associate artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival since 2004.

Woolrich has been appointed to Dartington on a three-year contract for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons, and will start work alongside Gavin Henderson in March this year. The 2010 will celebrate Henderson's 26-year term as artistic director, and the enormous impact he has had on countless artists, composers and participants.

New management structure for Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

11 February 2010

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance has announced a restructuring of its executive management. The reorganisation is a natural outcome of the 2005 merging of Trinity College of Music with dance school Laban, which saw Derek Aviss from Trinity and Anthony Bowne from Laban appointed as heads of their respective disciplines, becoming Joint Principals in 2006. Now, the board has agreed with the Joint Principals that their roles should be further refined and re-defined. At a meeting on 28 January, Bowne was unanimously confirmed as sole Principal and Accounting Officer, to take effect from September. Aviss will become Executive Director and will take the lead in certain strategic development areas, with a mission to keep the institution at the forefront of developments both artistic and in the world of higher education.

Mirella Bartrip, currently Deputy Director of Laban, will become the new Director of Dance. There will also be an international search to appoint a new Director of Music in advance of Trinity Deputy Principal John Heighway’s retirement in July. Chairman of the board of governors Sir Robert Scott said, ‘This is an exciting time for Trinity Laban. Over the last five years Anthony Bowne and Derek Aviss have worked together extremely successfully to bring Trinity Laban to a place of artistic excellence and financial stability. As we move forward into an increasingly challenging financial climate we feel certain that this new structure will help provide clarity for the organisation in terms of both vision and leadership.’


Julian Lloyd Webber in conversation on the life and legacy of Elgar in Worcestershire on 13 March

10 February 2010

An insight into Sir Edward Elgar’s life, work and legacy will be presented on Saturday 13 March when Julian Lloyd Webber, president of the Elgar Society, wil join society chairman Steven Halls for an afternoon of conversation at the Elgar Birthplace Museum in Lower Broadheath, Worcestershire. Starting at 2.30pm, the afternoon is entitled ‘In Conversation with Julian Lloyd Webber’. Entry is by ticket only, priced at £10. All net proceeds will go to the museum. Contact Ernie Kay, branch events secretary: ekmalv@tiscali.co.uk or 01684 567917.


£200,000 windfall for UK choirs from BBC Performing Arts Fund and Making Music

10 February 2010

The BBC Performing Arts Fund, in association with Making Music, has awarded over £200,000 to choirs and singing groups from around the UK through its Choral Ambition scheme.
From the 350 applications that were received, 98 choirs – with a total of almost 6,000 choir members between them – will receive funding, which will go towards 14 commissions of new music and 84 projects including training for choirs and choir leaders; workshops open to the public to help choirs attract new members and engage with their communities; support to tackle ambitious new repertoires and support to put on large scale events.
For example, Vox Rocks, a choir based in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, will use the grant to support its campaign to engage boys in singing in harmony, using specially-arranged rock numbers which are on their wavelength rather than traditional choral music. Once hooked, they move on to other styles. ‘We are thrilled to have the grant from the BBC,’ said spokesperson Francesca Lasman. ‘We have already booked the ACM gospel choir for a workshop in February half term!’
According to Robin Osterley, Chief Executive of Making Music, the winners of the Choral Ambition awards, many of them Making Music members, came up with a diverse and interesting range of projects. ‘As a result of this programme we expect to see the world of choral singing expanding even further, with hundreds of new singers, better trained choirs, and a range of new musical opportunities.’

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