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British baritone wins Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation song competition

11 September 2009

British baritone Marcus Farnsworth has won the £10,000 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition. He was accompanied by Elizabeth Burgess, and their programme for the final held on 10 September comprised songs by Schubert, Strauss, Loewe, Poulenc, Butterworth, Gurney and Britten. The competition was established to celebrate the richness of the song repertoire and to promote awareness of it among young performers. Every candidate must perform in three languages at each stage, with German obligatory throughout. Farnsworth, 25, is  a member of Royal Academy Opera, studying with Glenville Hargreaves and Audrey Hyland. Another British baritone, Benedict Nelson, also 25, and his pianist Gary Matthewman won second prize, while American soprano Erin Morley, 28, and pianist Laura Poe came third. Fourth place went to African-American baritone Sidney Outlaw, 27, and pianist John Reid. The £5,000 Jean Meikle duo prize went to baritone Gerard Collett and pianist James Baillieu; in addition Baillieu, who also accompanied soprano Erica Eloff, won the pianists' prize of a further £5,000.

Dates announced for ABRSM 'Let's Teach Jazz' days

11 September 2009

The ABRSM is running five jazz taster days for piano, woodwind and brass teachers in London (10 & 18 October), Sheffield (1 November), Leeds (15 November) and Swindon (29 November). Presented by Malcolm Edmonstone, Nick Smart, Richard Michael and Tim Richards, they are designed to help teachers with little or no experience in jazz meet the challenge of exploring jazz concepts and repertoire with their pupils. The fee is £55, which includes a light lunch. Participation in a jazz taster day qualifies teachers for a £45 discount on the next level up, ABRSM's four-day Inroductory Jazz Course, if booked before 30 November. Booking forms for both courses are available to download from or by emailing

Voting time for Classic FM Music Teacher of the Year

4 September 2009

Nominations close on 21 September for the Classic FM Music Teacher of the Year Awards. The annual awards honour the country's best music teachers – those who have inspired pupils, achieved outstanding results, brought a rich musical culture to their schools and changed children's lives through music.

There are six categories in the competition, covering primary teachers, secondary teachers, NQTs, peripatetic music teachers and those working with children with special educational needs, plus the Lifetime Achievement award. The winning teachers will receive thousands of pounds' worth of musical equipment for their schools, courtesy of Yamaha and Sibelius, including instruments, software, recording equipment and accessories.

For more details or to nominate a teacher go to the Classic FM website.  On the Music Manifesto website music consultant Leonora Davies gives her view on what makes a good music teacher, and the topic is thrown open for discussion on a related forum page.

Obituary: Carola Grindea, founder of the European Piano Teachers' Association

3 September 2009

Carola Grindea, founder of the European Piano Teachers’ Association (EPTA) and International Society for the Study of Tension in Performance, (ISSTIP) and professor of piano at the Guildhall School of Music for 21 years, died on 10 July at the age of 95.

Born Carola Rabinivici in Moldovia in 1914, she studied piano at the conservatoire in Bucharest, where she met music critic Miron Grindea; they married in 1936 and came to England as exiles on 2 September 1936. One of their contacts in this country was the pianist Myra Hess, and Grindea was the driving force in persuading her to establish the famous wartime lunchtime concerts at the National Gallery.

Grindea studied with Hess’s teacher Tobias Matthay and established her own performing career while also working full time in the Romanian section of the BBC World Service at Bush House. After the war the Grindeas hosted regular gatherings of musicians, writers and artists such as Yehudi Menuhin, Pablo Neruda and Jean-Paul Sartre at their home in South Kensington, and Carola began to establish herself as a teacher.

Inspired by the success of the European String Teachers’ Association, set up by Menuhin and Max Rostal, and by the growth of piano teachers’ groups in the United States, she established EPTA to provide a similar basis of support for piano teachers in Europe and raise the status of the profession, which she realised most young performers considered to be beneath their dignity.

EPTA now has branches and affiliates in 40 countries around the world, through which ideas can be shared, contacts established and scholarship funds raised. Awarding Grindea a citation for leadership in 2008, Gary Ingle, chief executive of the Music Teachers’ National Association of America, described her as ‘a giant – in my eyes and in those of everyone in our profession. She represents the epitome, the sine qua non, of what we should all aspire to be and do in our lives.’ Grindea joined the staff of the Guildhall in 1968 and founded ISSTIP in 1980, in response to her concern about the pain, frustration and musical cost to performers of undue muscular tension.

The society’s inaugural international conference attracted 73 delegates and was followed by the establishment of a journal and clinics for investigation and treatment of pain and dysfunction. At the same time Grindea founded the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe. She is survived by her daughter, Nadia Lasserson, herself a well known pianist and teacher, and by three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Year of Music launched with ‘World’s Ultimate Music Lesson’

3 September 2009

The Department for Children, Schools and Families is calling on schools across the country to take part in a 30-minute music ‘lesson’ streamed live at lunchtime on Thursday 10 September to officially launch 2009/10 as the government’s Year of Music.

A host of music industry names will be featured, including Slash, Danni Minogue, Damon Albarn, The Hoosiers, Guy Chambers, Katherine Jenkins, DJ Yoda, Vanessa Mae, N-Dubz, the cast of Wicked, the cast of Billy Elliot and English National Ballet, who have all pre-recorded three minute segments. Jamie Cullum, W Brown and Killa Kela will perform live and answer pupils’ pre-submitted questions.

The lesson, which is aimed at Year 7, 8 and 9 students, will be introduced from Twyford CE High School in Acton, west London, and will be streamed country-wide via an interactive whiteboard. It is hoped that the ‘World’s Ultimate Music Lesson’ will inspire and guide pupils through the world of music, from the beginnings of picking up an instrument through to making it as a professional. Writing lyrics, forming a band, choreographing and performing live will all be discussed, with insights provided by the featured musical ambassadors.

The Year of Music was announced in July by the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, who outlined the campaign’s plan ‘to give every child the chance to get more from music’. With a broad focus, the Year of Music will include projects such as managing a musical production as well as performance and other more traditional musical activities. Funding has been pre-allocated from the £332m ear-marked for supporting music in schools in the Comprehensive Spending Review 2008-11.

Schools wishing to take part in the ‘World’s Ultimate Music Lesson’, or any future Year of Music events, should contact for full details

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