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Take It Away for cancer charity

3 September 2009

Practice-a-thon Music – the music fundraising initiative from children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent – is expanding its activities this year in partnership with Arts Council England’s Take It Away scheme, which provides interest-free loans towards the purchase of music instruments.  

Since 2002, Practice-a-thon Music has raised over half a million pounds by encouraging people of all ages to get sponsored to practise, play and perform to help raise money for families affected by childhood cancer. This year, the organisation is pooling its contacts and resources with Take It Away, which will provide endorsement and practical support for the campaign.  

In addition, there will be a more interactive slant, thanks to the involvement of Participants will be able to download five exclusive music tutorials to help them prepare for the Practice-a-thon. Each tutorial covers a song from a wide variety of popular music genres, from Motown to Take That. Tracks can be played or sung individually or with a band or group.  

The scheme has also attracted celebrity endorsement from Gary Barlow, Jamie Cullum and Russell Watson. Watson said: ‘Making music has given me a focus, enormous enjoyment and has got me through some very dark times.  I’m best known as a singer and consider the voice to be an instrument that requires plenty of practice, but I think it’s fair to say that having tried to play guitar, that will certainly require a lot more practice for me!  Roll on Practice-a-thon!  I’m playing my part and I’m delighted to be raising money for children with cancer in the process.’    

Practice-a-thon Music takes place during the whole academic year from September to July. The event involves musicians of all ages and abilities getting sponsored to practise their musical instrument for an agreed time, ranging from five minutes to five hours per day, over any period, but usually for around two weeks. More information and registrations for this year’s campaign:

Three young pianists share top prize in Manchester concerto competition

27 August 2009

Three performers shared first prize in the junior section (16 and under) of the second Manchester International Concerto Competition for Young Pianists, held at the Royal Northern College of Music 15-22 August, in association with Rhinegold Publishing, the Manchester Camerata, Manchester Evening News and Chetham’s School. The jury were unanimous in their verdict that Dominic Degavino (14) from the UK, Jonathan Mak (12) from Canada and Yuanfan Yang (12) from the UK gave such exceptional performances that the only result could be an equal reward. Degavino performed the Concerto No 3 in D major Op 50 by Kabalebvsky, Mak the Concerto No 27 in B flat K595 by Mozart and Yang the Concert No 1 in E minor Op 11 by Chopin. Gabrielle Chou (14) and Nicholas Ryba (15) from the USA, Luke Jones (14) from the UK and Cason King (16) from Singapore were highly commended semi-finalists in the junior section.

The senior competition (22 and under) was won by Tudor Scripcariu (22) from Romania, who played Beethoven’s Concert No 3 in C minor Op 50. In second place was Sung-Jae Kim (20) from South Korea, who played Chopin’s first concerto, while third place was shared by two more South Koreans, Yoon-Seok Shin (22) who played Beethoven’s Concert No 2 in B flat Op 19, and Sungpil Kim (20) who played Chopin’s first concerto. Manos Charalabopoulos (18) from Greece and Kentaro Nagai (22) were highly commended.

All the competitors were accompanied by the Manchester Camerata, conducted by Stephen Threlfall, director of music at Chetham’s. The jury consisted of Joseph Banowetz (USA), Marcella Crudelli (Italy), Peter Donohoe (UK), Leslie Howard(UK), Radolslav Kvapil (Czech Republic), Noriko Ogawa (Japan) and Vladimir Tropp (Russia),

New dates added for ABRSM pre-exam seminars

24 August 2009

Four additional London dates have been added to the ABRSM's seminars offering exam candidates, their teachers and parents an insight into what is in store for them. Held in music shops, the ABRSM's London headquarters and other centres around the UK, the workshops are presented by Anthony Williams. They offer hints on how to maximise results in all parts of an exam: set pieces, scales, aural tests and sight-reading. All those attending receive a copy of the official ABRSM marking criteria, and they will see video examples of performances that achieved a variety of marks over a range of grades.

The first seminar takes place in Britsol on 12 September. More information from the ABRSM website

RCO study day focuses on the early C19th English organ

21 August 2009

John Kitchen, senior lecturer in music at Edinburgh University, will give a lecture-demonstration, masterclass and recital at St James's Church, Bermondsey, London SE16 on 26 September as part of a Royal College of Organists study day on the Early 19th-century English organ, with particular reference to the music of William Russell (1777-1813). Russell was organist of St Anne's LImehouse and of the Foundling Hospital Chapel, and pianist to Sadler's Wells Theatre. His two sets of organ voluntaries have recently been edited by Gillian Ward Russell and recorded by John Kitchen on the organ at St James's, which was built in 1829 and was innovative in its design, one of the first in the Uk to have a full pedal department. Restored in 2002 by Geotze & Gwynn, it is ideally suited to the music of Russell. Organ-builder Dominic Gwynn will provide an introduction to the study day. More information from the Royal College of Organists,

Young pianists gather for Manchester Concerto Competition

19 August 2009

The second Manchester International Concerto Competition for Young Pianists is taking place this week, in association with Rhinegold Publishing. The biennial event attracted 67 applications from 23 countries and the jury - pianist Leslie Howard, Piano magazine editor Jeremy Siepmann, and Stephen Threlfall, director of music at Chetham's School - invited 24 people to attend the semifinals. The final for those under 16 takes place on Thursday 20 August, and the final for those under 22 on Friday 21 August, both at 7.30pm at the Royal Northern College of Music. Masterclasses for competitors whodid not make it through to the final rounds take place from 10am both days and are open to the publich

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