Songs of Praise school choir of the year winners named
18 May 2015, Katy Wright
Junior category winners Ysgol Iau Llangennech
Llanelli's Ysgol Iau Llangennech and Hereford Cathedral School's Cantabile Girls’ Choir have been announced as the winners of the 2015 BBC Songs of Praise school choir of the year competition.
Ysgol Iau Llangennech won the junior school category, while Cantabile Girls’ Choir took the senior school title. The final, which took place at Nottingham’s Albert Hall, was broadcast on BBC One on 17 May.
Lewis Richards, conductor of Ysgol Iau Llangennech said: ‘The children give so much time and energy during rehearsals. I’m over the moon that they have something to show for their efforts and perseverance. The children were determined to perform their socks off in the final, and that’s exactly what they did!’
Cantabile had appeared in the finals of the competition before, and have also won the international Eisteddfod on two occasions. Music director Jo Williamson said: ‘Words cannot express how happy I am for the girls – I’m so proud of them and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. They have worked so hard for this moment and gave everything they had – heart and soul!’
Dave Stanford, executive producer of Songs of Praise, said: ‘The judges faced a difficult decision for both categories because the standard of entries was so high. Cantabile Girls’ Choir achieved success after an outstanding performance and Ysgol Iau Llangennech were faultless. Many congratulations to both the schools. The Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year competition has been running since 2003 and we are always knocked out by the quality and enthusiasm of the school choirs which enter.’
A new judging panel for the 2015 competition included: JB Gill, from boy band JLS; vocal coach and opera singer Yvie Burnett from The Voice; and Tim Rhys-Evans, the founder of Welsh male voice choirs Only Men Aloud and Only Boys Aloud.
The other finalists were Queen’s Young Voices (Chester) and Lindley Junior School Choir (Huddersfield) for the junior category, and Twyford Church of England High School Choir (London) and Strathearn School Chamber Choir (Belfast) for the senior category.
The competition launched in 2003 and attracts hundreds of entries annually. Over 45,000 young singers have entered to date.
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.
Simon Phillippo to join RWCMD as head of keyboard
14 May 2015, Katy Wright
Simon Phillippo is to join the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) as head of keyboard at the end of this academic year. He succeeds Richard McMahon, who will retire.
Phillippo said: 'I am delighted to be joining the illustrious team of musicians at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and extremely proud to be following in the footsteps of Richard McMahon as Head of Keyboard. I am looking forward to collaborating extensively with my new colleagues in all departments, and to working with the fine team of staff and young pianists in the Keyboard Department.'
Phillippo comes to the RWCMD after 14 years as pianist, coach and conductor at Welsh National Opera (WNO). He was chorus master for many of WNO's productions, including the first UK staging of Handel's Jephtha and the world premiere of James MacMillan's The Sacrifice.
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