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National Association of Youth Orchestras faces doubtful future

15 January 2010

This year’s Festival of British Youth Orchestras (FBYO) in Edinburgh and Glasgow has been cancelled and the future of the event organisers the National Association of Youth Orchestras (NAYO) seems uncertain, writes Susan Nickalls. According to board member George Steven, one of the founding members of NAYO, a unanimous decision was taken by the committee in December to wind up the association, after the treasurer threatened to walk out and pointed out that committee member would be legally responsible for a sum of money. ‘With great reluctance we unanimously agreed there was no other option but to end the association.’   However, both NAYO’s chief executive David Marcou and chairman George Caird (Principal of Birmingham Conservatoire) have refused to confirm or deny the association is ending in March and they have organised a further meeting of NAYO’s executive committee.   Since losing Youth Music Funding and having recently exhausted YM’s two year transitional funding, Caird says the organisation needs in the region of £50,000 to stage the FBYO: ‘Last year’s overall festival budget was rising to £100,000; it takes a lot of money and resources and these are tough times. We would like to get back to some kind of festival activity in 2011 but the whole thing needs to be completely reviewed. Is it a series of concerts that happens over a period of three to four weeks or is it something else?’   As Edinburgh’s fringe festival has expanded, accommodation is often difficult to find so orchestras have tended to keep their visits short, curtailing opportunities to socialise and take in other performances during the festival. Many orchestras from England and Wales find it cheaper to tour in Europe, consequently in recent years the majority of orchestras at the festival are from Scotland. The continued use of Edinburgh’s Central Hall as a venue beyond 2011 is questionable due to plans by the Methodist Church to sell the premises.   So far, NAYO’s meetings with the Scottish Arts Council and relevant local authorities have failed to secure further funding. In the meantime, Graeme Wilson, Fife Council’s music services manager, has had a positive response to an email to various interested parties in Scotland regarding the possibility of setting up something themselves. He is also the secretary of the Scottish Association for Music Education which has agreed to fund a short investigation to look at how best to fill the gap left by the FBYO. Wilson is also having discussions with John Wallace, Principal of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama regarding the future of the Glasgow concerts.   ‘In the meantime, we’ll look after our own orchestras and bands first on our own patch but we’re willing to join in with others if there’s something to be gained and opportunities for our young people.’  


ISM announces ‘Changing Lives Through Music’ seminar on 27 February at Kings Place, London

15 January 2010

The Incorporated Society of Musicians will host a one-day seminar entitled ‘Changing Lives Through Music’ on 27 Febuary at London’s Kings Place. Aimed at practitioners in any area of music education, the seminar will include a talk by Youth Music chief executive Christina Coker, who will discuss the charity’s work bringing a range of musical experiences to ‘at risk’ children. Peter Garden from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra will speak about the orchestra’s involvement with the In Harmony programme, and Michael Stocks, director of curriculum and training at Voices Foundation, will present a session on the foundation’s remit and philosophy, which centres on enabling generalist primary teachers to teach music confidently. Voices Foundation founder and principal Suzi Digby OBE will then lead a workshop demonstrating these ideas. ‘Changing Lives Through Music’ will be held at Kings Place, London. ISM member places cost £75, student members £10 and non-members £100. For more information or to reserve a place, contact Fiona MacLeod on 020 7079 1204 or email fiona@ism.org


25% off CBSO concerts if bookings made between 16 and 24 January

15 January 2010

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is offering 25% off all concert bookings made between 16 and 24 January. All CBSO-promoted concerts are subject to the discount, except for those on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 March, Saturday 12 June and all schools' concerts. Tickets can be purchased online at www.cbso.co.uk, by phone on 0121 780 3333 or in person from the Symphony Hall and Town Hall box offices. Tickets are limited to four per booking. The offer cannot be combined with any other discount, except the discount offered to disabled patrons.

Sage Gateshead celebrates five years with more plans for the future

14 January 2010

At the celebrations of The Sage Gateshead's fifth birthday in December general director Anthony Sargent announced a series of new initiatives and partnerships for the immediate future.

Leading educational innovations include new partnerships with the Emmanuel Schools Foundation, which runs four of the North East's academies, and with Gateshead Council both aimed at increasing music education opportunities for children and young people.

In the case of Emmanuel this will involve embedding and extending high-uality singing and music activities using singing and music as cross-curricular tools to help children's achievement. For Gateshead the key area will be singing and vocal development, ensuring that The Sage Gateshead’s national leadership in this field is fully available to Gateshead’s learners.

A major new residential International Summer School will be launched from 2013, embracing all types of music in its work on equal terms. Three new artistic roles, composer in association (American David Lang for three years from 2010), principal conductor (Simon Halsey) and associate artist (percussionist Brendan Murphy) are being created and Gateshead-born John Wilson, famed for 2009's MGM film musicals prom, will specialise in lighter orchestral music as a principal conductor of Northern Sinfonia.

There are new modules in music technology, technical skills, production and performance at access, BTEC and Foundation Degree levels created with partner Gateshead College.

The Sage Gateshead will maintain its commitment to commissioning with two new works from David Lang: an opera, Fidelio, which updates the Beethoven story with a 21st century twist, and a companion piece for Tallis's 40-part motet Spem in alium. There will also be a new Concerto for Orchestra from Simon Bainbridge.
'I want people to see all the achievements and successes of our pioneering first five years just as a launch-pad for a really exciting future,' said Sargent. 'Now we have the foundations securely built and are enjoying terrific support from our local and regional communities, we are turning our minds to the almost limitless future potential of this extraordinary project.'

Other announcements include a new festival of popular music, substantial reductions in carbon footprint, the Liberal Democrat Party conference in 2012 and extended terms of office for both the chairman, Lord Puttnam until 2012, and general director Anthony Sargent until 2015. This makes a 15-year term for Sargent, in contrast to the neighbouring Baltic visual arts centre which seems unable to retain its directors for very long.

Sing Up announces National Male Singing Leaders Conference

4 January 2010

Sing Up, the orgisation that promotes singing in schools, has announced the National Male Singing Leaders Conference, an event it hopes will shape the development of male singing leaders nationwide. The free two-day event will feature presentations, workshops and performances, and is open to male teachers who lead or would like to lead boys' or mixed singing groups; female teachers who lead boys' singing groups will also find the conference relevant. The keynote speech will be given by David Lawrence, Associate Conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus and Choir Leader for the City of Birmingham Young Voices, and there will be workshops and performances by singer and composer Cleveland Watkiss. Sessions will include: developing your own vocal confidence; male leadership and the changing voice with Professor Martin Ashley; ways of supporting and developing male singing leaders regionally and nationally; and using singing across the curriculum with primary-aged children. The event will take place at Truro Methodist Church and Library, Cornwall on Tuesday 23 February 2010 1.30pm-6.30 pm and Wednesday 24 February 9.30am-4pm. To find out more or to book your place email conference@singup.org or telephone Lindsay Bell (Sing Up Administrator) 0191 443 4695.


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