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Latest News

ISM announces new hub leadership training

25 May 2012

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has announced a new training day, designed to help with the running of the government's new music education hubs. Entitled Planning for Success with Music Education Hubs, it will take place on 26 June, and will bring together a range of experts. These will include Richard Hallam MBE, president elect of the ISM, who has worked as a teacher, advisor and inspector, head of music service and government advisor; Carolyn Baxendale, head of Bolton Music Service; John Cammack, freelance adviser, trainer and writer in management and financial management; and Pat Abraham, arts manager and policy consultant.

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the ISM, said: 'September 2012 will see the launch of the 122 new music education hubs and this ISM training day aims to support hub leaders as they put together their business plans and make key decisions which will impact on their hubs and music education over the years to come.'
The course is designed for people working at a senior level within hubs and aims to help them to develop and implement effective business plans. It costs £100 plus VAT and includes one year of bronze corporate level membership of the ISM.

Venue: The Abbey Centre, The Garrett Anderson Room, 34 Great Smith Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3BU.

MU calls for a reversal of £61,000 cut to West Dunbartonshire Music Service

25 May 2012

The Musicians’ Union (MU) has called on West Dunbartonshire Council to reverse the decision to cut £61,000 from its music service budget this financial year.

The reduction in funding was announced in December 2011 and will mean a 15% cut in instrumental music staff. The MU has expressed a concern that this will increasingly lead to a situation where only those who can afford private tuition are able to learn an instrument.

Sheena Macdonald, MU Organiser for Scotland said: 'The music service is already trying to cover a large area and number of schools with minimal staff. We have been informed by instructors that they already cannot meet the demand of pupils who would like to learn to sing or play an instrument.'

Graeme Clark of the band Wet Wet Wet added: 'I grew up in West Dunbartonshire and I believe that music should be inclusive, not exclusive - so I can't agree that music education should be cut back to the point where only the privileged and wealthy can afford it.

'Music has the power to break down barriers, and everyone can play a part – no matter where they come from. I cannot stress enough how important it was for me to find a way of expressing myself in my school days. Music enabled me to do that.'

Over 500 local people have signed a petition supporting the MU’s position, which can be found at:

Young composers triumph at NCEM Composers Awards

25 May 2012

Winners of the NCEM Composers Award 2012: Alex Woolf (left) and Benjamin Rowarth (right)
Winners of the NCEM Composers Award 2012: Alex Woolf (left) and Benjamin Rowarth (right)NCEM/Eddie Rolmanis

The two young winners of this year’s National Centre for Early Music Composers Awards have been praised for the imagination shown in their entries. Delma Tomlin, director of the National Centre for Early Music, said the judges had been 'absolutely thrilled, with not only the standard of entries, but the range and diversity of ideas around the given theme.'

The awards, presented in partnership with BBC Radio 3 and The Tallis Scholars, were won by Alex Woolf (16) in the under-18 category and by Benjamin Rowarth (20) in the 19-to-25 category.

Entrants were invited to compose an a cappella piece for soprano, alto, tenor and bass which 'utilises the majestic ambiance of Durham Cathedral and the remarkable singing skills of The Tallis Scholars'. As a starting point, they were asked to listen to the Benedictus from Taverner’s Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas, and in particular the In Nomine, which was to be used as a creative springboard for their work.

Woolf’s Lux Aeterna and Rowarth’s Where is Thy God? were premiered by The Tallis Scholars in Durham Cathedral as part of its Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. The performance will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show on 1 July. Woolf lives in Cambridge and is a composer with the National Youth Orchestra, and Rowarth, 20, is a student at Durham.

Peter Phillips, director of The Tallis Scholars, said, 'With The Tallis Scholars, I have created an instrument which has a very distinctive sound. I can’t think of anything more useful than to put this highly trained instrument at the disposal of these inspiring young composers and am hugely appreciative that they have written so well for us. I find it thrilling to perform works by a 16-year-old and a 20-year-old and really hope this award will encourage them to develop their styles and write for many different kinds of ensembles.'

All seven finalists heard their entries performed in workshops, with the Ebor Singers and Christopher Fox, composer and professor of music, Brunel University, London, before a public concert, which included judges Chris Wines, from BBC Radio 3, Peter Phillips and Delma Tomlin.

The finalists’ compositions were recorded by music technology students from the Department of Electronics at the University of York and will be soon available to hear on the NCEM website.

BBC Young Musician: the winner

14 May 2012

BBC Young Musician: Laura van der Heijden
BBC Young Musician: Laura van der Heijden

The winner of BBC Young Musician 2012, the final of which was held at the Sage, Gateshead on 13 May and broadcast on Radio 3 and BBC2, is 15-year-old cellist Laura van der Heijden.

Van der Heijden played the Walton cello concerto. The other finalists were recorder player Charlotte Barbour-Condini, 16 and the first-ever recorder player to reach the competition final, and pianist Yuanfan Yang, 15.

‘I just had a wonderful time and I’m so, so lucky,’ van der Heijden told presenter Clemency Burton-Hill, after being presented with the award by Charlotte Bray, one of the judges.

Born in England to a Dutch father and a Swiss mother, van der Heijden started her musical education with the recorder at the age of four before progressing to the piano and then the cello at the age of six.

The Walter Todds Bursary, a sum of £1,000 presented at the discretion of the BBC to the performer or performers who did not reach the Final but who showed great promise in memory of the late Walter Todds, co-founder of the BBC Young Musician competition, was given to percussionist Hyun-gi Lee and violinist Juliette Roos.

The final is available to watch on BBC iPlayer here until 20 May.

National Youth Choir of Scotland scoops Ensemble prize at Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards

11 May 2012

The National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCoS) has become the first youth arts organisation ever to win a Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award in the Ensemble category, joining an illustrious list of previous winners including The Hallé Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, the London Sinfonietta and I Fagiolini.

The award was given in celebration of outstanding achievement in 2011, a year which saw the flagship NYCoS choir celebrate its 15th anniversary with performances at the Edinburgh International Festival with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and a Gala Concert performance of Walton Belshazzar's Feast with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Christopher Bell, founder and artistic director of NYCoS, said the organisation was honoured by the prestigious accolade: 'I'm accepting the award on behalf of all our singers, staff, parents and supporters, and we look forward to the exciting things we have planned for the future.' NYCoS now has four national choirs, 15 area choirs, an extensive publications catalogue and a comprehensive education and early years programme.

The evening's only double winner was Spitalfields Music, which was honoured for its pioneering community opera, We Are Shadows, and for its ‘route one’ ticket scheme, which encourages ticket buyers at its two annual festivals to buy a second ticket for a first-time attender from Tower Hamlets, its home borough. This scheme won the award for Audiences and Engagement.

A full list of winners of the RPS Music Awards 2012 is available online at

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