ViolinSchool instruments stolen
17 June 2015, Katy Wright
Several of ViolinSchool's teaching instruments have been stolen from a vehicle in Vauxhall, London.
The missing instruments, which cost a total of around £500, include a Stentor Conservatoire violin in a green case (with a picture of a panda) and three Primavera violins in blue cases with ViolinSchool markings inside, each with an assortment of bows and coloured shoulder rest pads.
Simon Hewitt Jones, founder and director of ViolinSchool, said: 'Obviously we’re extremely upset at the loss of these violins, which hundreds of people have played at their first violin class over the past 3 years. We’re searching Gumtree and eBay to see if they resurface, but the police think it is likely they will have been quickly disposed of by the thief, and perhaps already been sold. If anyone comes across these insturments in London, it is likely to be in the next day or two.'Any information regarding the stolen instruments should be reported to ViolinSchool on 020 3051 0080.
Malcolm Layfield acquitted of rape after admitting 'shameful' relationships with students
9 June 2015
Former Chetham’s and Royal Northern College of Music violin teacher Malcolm Layfield, 63, has been found not guilty of raping a former pupil.
A jury at Manchester Crown Court took less than 90 minutes to acquit Layfield, who had been accused of raping an 18-year-old female student in the early 1980s.
During the trial, Layfield admitted that he had pursued a number of consensual sexual relationships with students, the youngest of whom was 17, throughout the 1980s. He described these relationships as ‘shameful’, but denied that he had ‘crossed the line’ during a summer school in Cornwall.
Layfield had been accused of driving the woman to an isolated spot in the middle of the night and raping her while she was drunk. The complainant said she subsequently ‘gave in’ and went on to have consensual sex with him over the following six weeks.
The former violin teacher denied the allegation that he used his ‘power and influence’ – including threats to prevent her from gaining work opportunities if she changed tutor – to commit the offence against the teenager in the back of his car.
The trial heard that Layfield was well known for having relationships with students, and his appointment as head of strings at the RNCM in 2002 was controversial.
Speaking to the BBC, pianist Martin Roscoe – who was RNCM's head of keyboards at the time and who appeared at the trial – said he had been ‘absolutely shocked’ at the college's decision.
Roscoe continued: ‘On ethical grounds, on moral grounds, that is the behaviour of someone who should not be put in a position of pastoral care, dealing with students of any age, in my view.’
Layfield’s solicitor, Matthew Claughton, said the verdict had come as a ‘huge relief’ to his client.
RNCM students to perform UK premiere of Penderecki's Seventh Symphony
8 June 2015
Krzysztof Penderecki will conduct students from the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in the UK premiere of his Seventh Symphony at the end of this month.
The Polish composer will conduct the RNCM Symphony Orchestra in a concert at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on Friday 26 June.
Commissioned for the third millennium celebration of the city of Jerusalem, Penderecki’s Seventh Symphony (‘Seven Gates of Jerusalem’) is rarely performed due to the sheer forces required.
The end-of-year concert will feature 250 RNCM students and marks the culmination of a festival entitled Seven Gates: The Music of Poland Explored.
The festival also includes film screenings and new compositions by RNCM students, all inspired by Polish compositional thought and research.
Michelle Castelletti, artistic director of the RNCM, said: ‘I have been gripped by Krzysztof Penderecki ever since I heard his Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima and St Luke Passion.
‘I am thrilled, not only because the RNCM will be giving the UK premiere, but because he will be conducting the performance himself.’
Following the concert, Castelletti will present Penderecki with honorary membership of the RNCM.
LSO On Track to perform in Trafalgar Square
30 April 2015, Katy Wright
Young musicians from the London Symphony Orchestra's On Track programme will perform in Trafalgar Square in a high-profile concert on 17 May.
Those participating in the On Track scheme will join members of the LSO and musicians from the Guildhall School for performances of Shostakovich's Jazz Suites (arranged by Gareth Glyn).
LSO On Track is an initiative in which young instrumentalists from East London receive coaching from LSO musicians. The scheme is a partnership with the music services of 10 London boroughs: Barking & Dagenham, Bexley, Greenwich, Hackney, Havering, Lewisham, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, and Waltham Forest.
The all-Shostakovich programme also includes the composer's Festive Overture and Symphony No 1, with Valery Gergiev conducting the LSO. Violinist Nicola Benedetti will perform movements from Shostakovich's first violin concerto.
Munira Mirza, deputy mayor for education and culture, said: 'I am delighted to welcome the LSO to Trafalgar Square for what has become a much-loved event in London’s musical calendar. This year promises to be another unforgettable event with the LSO playing with their talented young musicians and guest soloist Nicola Benedetti, a young talent herself and Ambassador to the Mayor’s Music Fund. I am deeply committed to championing music and music education and I look forward to the LSO and their aspiring young musicians sharing this free concert with Londoners.'
The performance will begin at 6.30, but it is recommended to arrive at least an hour early. For further details, click here.
Education software provider FFT rolls out new dashboard system
30 April 2015
Secondary school teachers can track the performance of their pupils online thanks to a new system from education software provider FFT.
FFT Aspire was launched at the beginning of this academic year and has since been phased in across the country, with the rollout completed last month.
The technology uses a set of interactive dashboards to help schools evaluate pupil performance, identify strengths and weaknesses and set targets for the future. Dashboards are currently available from KS1 to KS4, with KS5 to follow later this year.
FFT’s data was previously available to only to one specialist per school and the information was not easily accessible to individual subject teachers.
The new dashboard system allows subject leaders to easily pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, helping them to predict future GCSE results and prepare for Ofsted inspections.
Teachers can access data on pupil progress and subject performance, as well as comparing the progress of their pupils to others across the country.
Paul Charman, managing director of FFT, said: ‘Our new subject dashboard means that subject leaders can really drill down and identify both underperforming children and pupil groups, as well as those doing well, all at the touch of a button.
‘Schools can use data to identify weaknesses in order to help the following year’s cohort get better grades as part of their department’s long-term improvement plan.’
Founded in 2001, FFT provides data to around 70 per cent of UK state schools. Teachers who are interested in using the new technology should contact their local education authority.
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