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Mike Brewer, director of National Youth Choir, charged with rape

27 April 2012

Mike Brewer, director of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, has been charged with rape by Greater Manchester Police. The allegations relate to his time at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, where Brewer was director of music for 20 years from the mid-1970s.

A statement by Greater Manchester Police said that Brewer has been charged with rape and six counts of indecent assault. His former wife, Hilary Brewer, has also been charged with rape and indecent assault. The charges come ‘following a historic abuse investigation carried out by Greater Manchester Police’.

‘The charges relate to the alleged abuse and rape of a girl at school in Manchester and an address in Chorlton when she was aged between 13 and 18.’

The pair are due before Manchester City Magistrates' Court on 7 May 2012.

A statement issued on behalf of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain’s chairman of trustees, Professor Chris Higgins, said: ‘The NYCGB became aware today (Thursday) that Manchester police had issued serious charges against its artistic director, Mike Brewer OBE, which he is contesting.

‘As a consequence, Mike has been suspended from all duties with immediate effect and will have no part in any NYCGB activities until these allegations have been resolved. These allegations relate to events over 30 years ago, before the choir was founded, and have nothing to do with the NYCGB nor Mike's time as artistic director.

‘A search for a new director to replace Mike Brewer as he nears his planned retirement is already under way and the trustees expect to have identified a successor in August. All planned choral courses and concerts for the summer, including the BBC Promenade Concerts, and our programme remains uninterrupted, albeit the senior choir will no longer be conducted by Mike Brewer.’

National Youth Choir of Scotland appoints new chief exec

25 April 2012

Morag Campbell has been appointed as the new chief executive of the National Youth Choir of Scotland. She comes to the job from Stevenson College, Edinburgh where she is currently associate principal and leads the Faculty of Creative Industries. Under her stewardship there, the music department grew from a single preparatory course to become the first area of the college to confer an honours degree.

Campbell takes up the job in early June and says she is 'thrilled to be appointed as chief executive of what is surely a flagship organisation for young people in Scotland.'

Christopher Bell, founder and artistic director of NYCoS, said: 'With the National Youth Arts strategy to be published soon, and a wealth of exciting plans in NYCoS’ future, we are pleased to have found someone with Morag’s breadth of administrative and artistic experience.'

Two former Royal Academy of Music employees charged with fraud

23 April 2012

Two former senior members of staff at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) are to appear before magistrates in London next month, after being charged in relation to frauds, involving more than £600,000.

Janet Whitehouse, the former director of finance, faces three charges under the Fraud Act, all arising from alleged abuse of her position for personal financial gain. Between 1 March 2007 and 24 March 2011, she is alleged to have defrauded the RAM of sums in excess of £200,000.

Steven Newell, the former head of information, also faces three charges under the Fraud Act 2006. Two counts concern allegations that he provided two false documents in order to obtain his position at the RAM. A third count concerns payment of fraudulent invoices together valued at £437,408.11. The allegations date between 1 October 2008 and 31 August 2010.

The defendants will both appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 2 May 2012 in separate hearings. A spokesperson from the RAM said: 'The Academy is aware of an ongoing police investigation and that two individuals have been charged. We have no further comments.'

Youth Music appoints new executive director

23 April 2012

Matt Griffiths, the executive director of Plymouth Music Zone, a community music organisation, has been appointed executive director of Youth Music. He starts the job at the beginning of June.

'I'm delighted and honoured to lead Youth Music in the next stage of its development,' he said. 'The charity has a successful track record in creating music-making opportunities, particularly for children and young people in the most challenging circumstances, as well as supporting a national community of music education practice and expertise. I'm looking forward to working with the team to build on this firm foundation and ensure that participation in music continues to be for the many and not just the few.'

Speaking on behalf of Youth Music’s Board, chairman Richard Stilgoe said, 'Music can move from sad to happy by a simple change from minor to major. So while we are sad that Christina Coker has decided to move on, we are very happy that Matt has agreed to come on board to make sure that Youth Music continues to build on firm foundations and drive forward the next stage of its charitable work.'

Youth Music has also appointed Angela Linton as Operations Director. She moves from The Sorrell Foundation.

Live Music Act becomes law

23 April 2012

The Live Music Act - which will remove much of the paperwork attached to performances in smaller venues, including schools - has now become law.

Venues which hold fewer than 200 people will no longer need local-authority permission for music performances between the hours of 8am and 11pm, with no capacity limit where the music is not amplified. The act comes into force on 1 October.

Welcoming the news, Jo Dipple of UK Music, the umbrella organisation for the UK music industry, said: 'For a Private Member’s Bill to receive Royal Assent is a monumental achievement, even more so for one that is introduced in the House Of Lords. This has happened only five times in the past decade. The assent of today’s act is the result of a dogged commitment to musicians combined with outstanding parliamentary skills. UK Music thanks Lord Clement-Jones and Don Foster MP for their work.'

UK Music was one of the organisations which campaigned for the change. Dipple added: 'The global success of our industry is dependent on a flourishing network of small venues, where tomorrow’s headliners can learn their craft and develop their career. Allowing these venues the freedom to host live music is a huge boost for British artists and means more opportunities for developing talent, as well as enriching our local communities and the economy overall.'

John Smith, general secretary of the Musician’s Union, said he would like to thank all of the MPs and Lords who have been involved in the process.

'The MU has been lobbying for changes to the Licensing Act for many years now, and this exemption is fantastic news for musicians and will be a real boost for live music,' said Smith. 'We look forward to the implementation of the act later this year and we will be working with the government to ensure that the act has maximum impact.'

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