Big Noise orchestras praised by researchers
19 May 2015, Katy Wright
Big Noise Raploch celebrates 6 yearsMarc Marnie
The initial findings of an 18-month study show that Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise orchestras are having a positive effect on the local community.
Researchers from the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) concluded that the projects had the potential to ‘significantly enhance participants’ lives, prospects, health and wellbeing’ and strongly endorsed the Big Noise projects.
The researchers have been examining the economic, education and community impacts of the Big Noise schemes since September 2013. They found that children taking part in the scheme had higher school attendance, improved handwriting and greater confidence.
The orchestras, based in Stirling’s Raploch and Glasgow’s Govanhill, were established in 2008 and 2013 respectively. Both schemes have attracted widespread acclaim, with Stirling’s programme praised for ‘exceptional achievement’ by government inspectors earlier this year.
Sistema Scotland chairman Richard Holloway said yesterday: ‘Today's findings by independent experts show very conclusively that these orchestras can make a better Scotland - a fairer and happier country with the potential of its children fully realised. The heroes in all of this, though, are the children in Raploch and Govanhill who are showing us all the way.’
GCPH director Carol Tannahill said: ‘This evaluation strongly endorses Sistema Scotland’s approaches to delivery: the short and medium-term impacts of the programme evidenced at this stage of the evaluation are very encouraging. What is also certain is that Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise programme has the potential to significantly enhance participants’ lives, prospects, health and wellbeing through a variety of identified pathways in the long-term.’
Based on Venezuela’s El Sistema, Sistema Scotland draws children from disadvantaged backgrounds and immerses them in music. Approximately 1,300 Scottish children currently participate in the intensive orchestral programmes, which involve regular coaching, performances and trips to concerts.
The study will continue in order to observe the long-term effects of the Big Noise projects.
St John's Smith Square names latest crop of Young Artists
18 May 2015
Tabea Debus © Maximilian Motel
St John’s Smith Square has welcomed four new members to its Young Artists’ Scheme.
Recorder player Tabea Debus, violinist Joo Yeon Sir, the Ligeti Quartet and vocal ensemble The Gesualdo Six will all receive performance opportunities, marketing and development assistance and career support during the 2015/16 concert season.
St John’s Smith Square launched its Young Artists’ Scheme last year to provide assistance for exceptional young artists on the brink of their professional careers.
The first group of artists selected were the Aurea Quartet, Anna Hashimoto (clarinet), Laura Snowden (guitar) and the Zelkova Quartet.
The Young Artists are each awarded three performance dates ranging from lunchtime concerts to full evening recitals and Sunday afternoon chamber music concerts.
Alongside this, they will also undertake activities in marketing, commissioning and outreach.
Richard Heason, director of St Johns Smith Square, said: ‘As a concert hall it is crucial that we don’t just give voice to established artists but that we also invest in future talent.
‘Through our Young Artists’ Scheme we are able to select musicians who have shown themselves to have enormous talent and energy and help them as they shape their careers.
‘The support we give off the concert platform, for marketing, development and outreach work, is just as important as the concert opportunities.’
Tabea Debus is a student at the Royal Academy of Music, while Joo Yeon Sir studies at the Royal College of Music.
The Ligeti Quartet is a group of recent graduates dedicated to performing modern and contemporary music, and The Gesualdo Six is a vocal sextet specialising in the performance of renaissance music, directed by Owain Park.
Exam boards publish draft proposals for music GCSE
15 May 2015, Katy Wright
is part of the second wave of GCSEs to be reformed in a process being led by
the Department for Education, with the new qualifications to be taught from
September 2016. AQA, Pearson/Edexcel,
OCR and WJEC/Eduqas have now all published and submitted their draft GCSEs to
Below is a summary of
these initial proposals (although changes may be made over the next few months).
Under the reformed system, GCSEs will be awarded according to a new 1-9
grading scale, and will be assessed only at the end of the two-year period of
study. Performance, composition, and written examination will make up 30%, 30%
and 40% of the overall mark for each course.
Across the boards, performances should contain a minimum of two pieces,
one performed as part of an ensemble and one solo. A portfolio of two
compositions should be submitted, one in response to a brief set by the exam
board, and the other free choice.
AQA will require its students to study works by Haydn, Copland, Santana and
The Beatles. For the listening section of the exam (68 marks), candidates will
answer eight questions based on unheard works and covering all areas of study;
for the contextual understanding (28 marks), there will be four sets of
questions on the study pieces.
Performances are expected to last seven minutes, and will be examined on
accuracy, expression, interpretation and level of demand. AQA will award marks
for awareness of the composing process, as shown through a composing log.
Pearson/Edexcel specifies eight works, ranging from Purcell’s Music for a While to
Queen’s Killer Queen. The first section of the exam (worth 68 marks) will
contain six questions relating to set works, one melody/rhythm completion
exercise, and one multi-part question on an unfamiliar piece. The second part
will be an extended response comparison between a set work and unfamiliar piece
Performances will be examined on technical control, accuracy and
fluency, and expression and interpretation. Students will be required to work
on their compositions under controlled conditions.
OCR does not suggest set works, but suggests repertoire for students to
learn within five broad categories (including ‘My instrument’ and ‘Rhythms of
the World’). The board does not specify the breakdown of the exam, but says that
it will contain questions based around musical elements, contexts and language.
For the performance component, marks will be awarded for difficulty,
technical control and fluency, and expression and interpretation. Composition
briefs will be linked to areas of study, using a stimulus (whether an image, a
short story or a rhythmic pattern). The free choice composition will be for the
WJEC is also moving away from set works (with the exception of Rainbow’s
Since You’ve Been Gone and the third movement of Mozart’s Eine Kleine
Nachtmusik), and will suggest repertoire within ‘ensemble’ and ‘film music’
categories. The exam will be made up of eight questions, six on unprepared
musical extracts and two on prepared extracts.
The performance should last a maximum of six minutes, with one piece
linking to an area of study. Marks will be awarded for: technical control,
expression and interpretation, accuracy of rhythm and pitch, appropriate pace
and fluency; effective dynamics; stylistic awareness; and ‘empathy’ (in
ensemble playing). Candidates will be required to submit a composition log.
The ISM and Dr Alison Daubney have produced a comparison chart of the four GCSE courses on offer, available here.
NCEM young composers award winners announced
15 May 2015, Katy Wright
Joshua Urben and John Goldie-Scot
The 2015 National Centre for Early Music (NCEM) young composers awards have gone to Joshua Urben (for the 18 and under category) and John Goldie-Scot (for the 19-25 category).
Urben's Fractos Corde and Goldie-Scot's Why are you in such a hurry? will both receive their premieres from the Dunedin Consort in Glasgow on 2 October.
The competition brief was to create a new setting for a short dramatic scene from one of two works by Monteverdi: Orfeo or Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda. The works were to be written for two or three singers, accompanied by a small ensemble of instruments.
Seven finalists were invited to have their works presented in a workshop with the Dunedin Consort. The winners were chosen by a panel comprised of Delma Tomlin (director of the NCEM), Les Pratt (senior music producer at BBC Radio 3) and John Butt (director of the Dunedin Consort).
John Butt said: 'The welcoming environment which the NCEM creates for this event and their enlightened approach to encouraging young composers to write for early instruments through this award is to be applauded. We look forward to polishing the winning pieces in preparation for their premiere later this year.'
The National Centre for Early Music
Manchester Camerata welcomes young performers for season finale
15 May 2015
Twenty young people will perform on stage alongside Manchester Camerata and pianist Ingrid Fliter this weekend to mark the culmination of an outreach project.
The 14 to 18-year-olds, who come from across Greater Manchester, will perform a live remix of music from the Overture to Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.
RE:Figared has been created by members of the orchestra’s Youth Forum, a group of young people who act as ambassadors for the orchestra and have a voice in the organisation.
Forum members come from culturally diverse backgrounds, with musical interests ranging from rap to singer songwriter, instrumentalists, actors, writers and artists.
Fliter will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 2 in B flat major, with the second half of the concert featuring Mozart’s Symphony No 41, ‘Jupiter’.
The programme also includes a performance of Etudes by Jack Sheen, winner of the orchestra’s 2015 Composers’ Project, which saw ten young composers try their ideas out at Manchester’s new UKFast Auditorium.
Sheen, from Manchester, was BBC Young Composer of the Year in 2011 and is now studying on the joint music course run by the Royal Northern College of Music and Manchester University.
The programme will be performed at the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on Friday 15 May and the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester on Saturday 16 May.
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