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Music educator John Stephens becomes 130th honorary member of the Royal Philharmonic Society

6 July 2012

John Stephens, a pioneering figure in musical education, has been made an honorary member of the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS). He is the 130th person to receive the award since 1826. Previous recipients include Brahms, Stravinsky and George Benjamin.

'There is a great reservoir of latent musical talent in our schools, conservatoires and universities, and I have been privileged to see that develop over the last 60 years,' he said. 'That talent flourishes when music educators and professional musicians come together to support, nurture and inspire - but most of all to make music together.'

John Stephens played a key part in the development of the London Schools Symphony Orchestra, while also starting many educational programmes, including the first schools’ educational projects of the Royal Opera House (ROH) and the London Sinfonietta. At the ROH he served as music advisor, a post he also held at Wigmore Hall, the London Symphony Orchestra, Trinity College of Music and Youth Music. He received an OBE in 1999 for services to musical education.

The London Schools Symphony Orchestra performed at the awards ceremony at the Barbican, in a programme that included Jeff Moore’s River Journey, a piece commissioned by Stephens for the London Symphony Orchestra and nearby primary schools.

Rosemary Johnson, the RPS's executive director, praised Stephens's contribution to music: 'He brings to everything he does experience, astuteness, an incisive and clear mind, a respect for colleagues and, above all, a belief in the creative abilities of young people and in the power of music to enhance their lives.'

Stephens added: 'Musical talent is not prescribed by parental income or postcode; it is not confined by either gender or ethnic background; it is not restricted by musical genre or idiom. Quite straightforwardly, it is at the heart of every civilised community. Politicians and parents, teachers and musicians must all ensure that young people have the opportunity to develop their talent.'

BBC Inspire winning composers announced

5 July 2012

This year’s BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers’ Competition winners have been announced, with two teenage boys and a girl taking the top prizes.

Winners in the 12-16 category were Freddie Meyers from Surrey, who wrote Three Apparitions, and Alex Woolf from Cambridgeshire, who composed Mermish. Sarah Gait from Cumbria won the 17-18 category with Portrait of a Moor. All three win a BBC Proms performance, a broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and a BBC commission.

Now in its 14th year, the competition offers a platform for young composers, providing an opportunity to have their music played by professional musicians and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. This year’s panel of judges was chaired by Fraser Trainer and included Michael Emery, Stuart MacRae, Anna Meredith, Nico Muhly, Martin Suckling and Peter Wiegold. The winning works will be performed by the Aurora Orchestra at the Royal College of Music on 4 August, and an edited version will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 16 August.

Youth Music extends mentoring scheme

5 July 2012

Youth Music, the charity which aims to use music to improve the lives of young people, plans to extend its mentoring scheme to reach more than 2,800 11- to 25-year-olds.

'This innovative programme empowers and supports music-making organisations to deliver high-quality music-based mentoring to some of the most disadvantaged young people across the country, said Matt Griffiths, executive director of Youth Music.

'We have the reach, understanding and track record to have a sustained and ambitious impact on those who need our help most - young people who have least opportunity to succeed. Building on Youth Music’s past success and proven understanding of music-based mentoring, we will deliver placements, training, coaching and resources to support the development of more than 200 music mentors.'

The programme is designed to help young people improve their social, personal and musical skills and move towards education, training or employment.

RWCMD new buildings win four architecture awards

5 July 2012

The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff (RWCMD) has won four British architecture awards, a year after the opening of its £22.5m performance and rehearsal spaces. It has taken the Welsh Building of the Year, Welsh Client of the Year, Welsh Architecture Award and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Regional Architecture Award, which puts the College on the long list for RIBA's prestigious Stirling Prize in October.

RIBA said that despite the constraints of a tight site, architects BFLS had created 'a new civic landmark for Cardiff,' adding that the foyer of the building had become 'one of the most popular community spaces in Cardiff'.

The new buildings include the Richard Burton Theatre, the Linbury Gallery, a café bar, rehearsal studios and the Dora Stoutzker Hall. As well as benefiting students and visiting artists, the new buildings also provide increased opportunities for local performing arts organisations.

'We were very privileged to be able to develop the college on what is a very sensitive site – within a Grade 1 listed park and adjacent to the City’s Grade 1 listed civic area,' said Hilary Boulding, the RWCMD’s principal. 'We’re thrilled with the outcome. In the first year alone, more than 60,000 people have bought tickets or visited us, to experience life within this handsome building.'

'Largest music lesson' record attempt set for 14 October

5 July 2012

Around 7,000 guitarists are attempting to break at least four world records in one day as they raise money for the charity Childline.

The event will take place at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on 14 October, and organisers hope it will break records for the largest electric guitar ensemble, the largest music lesson (hosted by Yamaha and led by guitarist Soren Andersen), the largest air guitar ensemble and the most guitar amplifiers used simultaneously. Guinness world record experts will be monitoring the event.

All participants will receive a free Marshall MS2 guitar amp, and entry costs £30. The organisers hope to raise £250,000. For more details see

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