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First cohort of Mayor's Music Fund scholarship programme graduates

8 July 2015

Graduating scholars perform Danyal Dhondy's <em>Get Up On Your Feet!</em>
Graduating scholars perform Danyal Dhondy's Get Up On Your Feet!Paul Cochrane

The first cohort of young players to complete the four-year London Mayor’s Music Fund (MMF) scholarship programme performed a specially commissioned piece at a celebratory event at City Hall last week. 

The 40 musicians were the first intake of the MMF’s scholarship scheme, which opened in 2011 and provides music lessons and opportunities to talented players at non-fee-paying schools whose families would otherwise find it hard to pay for their lessons. The scheme covers each of the 32 London boroughs and its patron is the mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

The graduating scholars performed Danyal Dhondy’s Get Up On Your Feet!, conducted by Tom Seligman with clarinet soloist Julian Bliss, to an audience of family and friends, hub representatives and MMF supporters and guests. The event and commission were sponsored by the Boltini Trust with support from ABRSM. 

To be eligible to apply for the MMF’s scholarship scheme, players must be between eight and ten years old, have had at least one year’s post-Wider Opportunities tuition, and be able to demonstrate enthusiasm and commitment for their musical studies. 

Scholars receive more than two hours of music making and development opportunities each week, and are given a mentor who facilitates the player and their family’s relationships with their school, hub and the MMF. The scheme currently supports 260 children across the capital. 

Graduating scholar Louis Lodder, who plays the French horn and will this September start KS3 with a full music scholarship at a local independent school, said: ‘In four years I’ve been taught by amazing musicians, gone from studying Grade 1 to Grade 5 and learned so much. My experience as a Mayor’s Music Scholar has made me very sure I want to be a professional musician.’

The MMF’s chief executive, Ginny Greenwood, said of the event: ‘We were delighted to celebrate the achievements of our graduating scholars. They have embraced all of the playing and performance opportunities made available to them through our scheme, and the graduation event was the perfect opportunity to share their achievements with everyone that has supported them on their four-year journey.’

Julian Bliss, who is also an ambassador for the scheme, said: ‘Being a part of such an amazing organisation is a real pleasure. It’s incredibly important to nurture the next generation of musicians and provide them with as many opportunities as possible. The MMF does exactly that. I extend huge congratulations to our graduating scholars and wish them every success for the future.’

The Mayor's Music Fund

Children learn from RNCM percussionists in Cathay Pacific project

7 July 2015

Percussionists from the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) will spend time working with Year 6 pupils at a primary school in Manchester this week in a project sponsored by airline Cathay Pacific.

Over three days, pupils at Medlock Primary School will learn about composition, rhythm and performance with RNCM tutor Andrea Vogler and students Theo Fowler and Alex Smith.

They will then write their own piece, entitled Around the World, which they will perform at the RNCM on Thursday 9 July.

The finished project will also include a short specially commissioned piece for solo marimba called Take Flight, written by RNCM student Tom Kelly and performed by college graduate Le Yu (pictured).

Suzie Thompson, director of development at the RNCM, said: ‘The RNCM is fortunate to have a partner like Cathay Pacific for this project and we are tremendously grateful to them.

They have a genuine commitment to support the arts and education and for the children involved, this project will be something that will stay with them for a long time.’

The RNCM’s work at Medlock Primary School is part of RNCM Engage, the college’s learning and participation programme.

2015 BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers’ Competition winners revealed

6 July 2015

Five young composers have been announced as the winners of the BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers’ Competition 2015.

The winners in the junior category (12-16 years) are Daniel Penney, Matthew Kelley and Tammas Slater. The senior category (17-18 years) winners are Finlay Stafford and Toby Hession.

The entries were judged blind by a panel chaired by composer Fraser Trainer. The other panel members were Stuart MacRae, Anna Meredith, Martin Suckling, Judith Weir and BBC Radio 3 editor Jeremy Evans.

The winners will have their music performed by the Aurora Orchestra in a BBC Proms Inspire concert conducted by Nicholas Collon at the Royal College of Music on Friday 28 August.

The concert will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Each composer will also receive a BBC commission.

The commissioned works from the winners of the 2014 Inspire Young Composers’ Competition will also be part of the BBC Proms, performed by members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Royal College of Music on Saturday 8 August.

Fraser Trainer, chair of the judging panel, said: ‘We had a really good portion of strong and highly competent pieces in this year’s submissions overall.

‘From the 200 or so entries in each category there were a number of composers who impressed the judges with their imagination, creativity, personality and craft.

‘We were particularly impressed with the quality of work from the junior category and the way that several composers in both age groups were able to create and imagine a sound-world outside the normal frame of convention.’


Guildhall School to develop postgraduate conducting course with Simon Rattle

3 July 2015

Simon Rattle is working with the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to develop a new postgraduate course in conducting.

This week, it was announced that Rattle will take on the role of artist-in-association with the Barbican and the Guildhall alongside his job as music director of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) from the 2017/18 season.

Under the new role, Rattle will explore cross-arts collaborations and special projects across the LSO, the Barbican and the Guildhall.

Initiatives will include a regular series of orchestral ‘side-by-side projects’ with the LSO and the Guildhall, specialised training for choral conductors and a new Masters in conducting.

Jonathan Vaughan, director of music at the Guildhall, said Rattle would oversee the structure of the Masters course and advise on teachers, as well as having ‘some hands-on involvement’. He said the school was planning to offer the course from 2019.

He also said Rattle wanted to set up an ensemble to train choral conductors, and was keen for all postgraduate singing students to receive training in choral conducting.

Vaughan said Rattle would also be involved in deepening the ongoing partnership between the Guildhall, the Barbican and the LSO.

‘His passion for that is really self-evident,’ he said. ‘There are lots of platforms for students to become involved with, looking at the unique offer of working together in a really collaborative way.

‘The mere fact that he will be in the building and acting as a role model for our students is game-changing,’ he added. ‘Fundamentally, he represents the idea of a broad and rich career in music, with an educational and ambassadorial element.

‘He is an extraordinary advocate for music and the arts who is just as at home in a primary school as on the concert stage, and he is able to work a room full of politicians like no other artist on the planet.’

Rattle will conduct students from the Guildhall this Sunday in a performance of Walton's Symphony No 1 at the Barbican.

ABRSM publishes new strings syllabus

2 July 2015

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) has today released its new syllabus for bowed strings, with refreshed repertoire lists for violin, viola and cello.

Repertoire from the new lists can be used in ABRSM exams from January 2016. No changes have been made to the double bass repertoire or to the requirements for scales, sight-reading and aural tests for any of the four subjects.

New books and recordings are now available for teachers and learners from music retailers worldwide and from the ABRSM online shop. Audio downloads can be found here.

ABRSM has published eight volumes of Violin Exam Pieces, providing a selection of music for Grades 1 to 8. This is the first time a volume for Grade 8 has been published.

A new app called Violin Practice Partner has also been released, following the release of Piano Practice Partner last year.

ABRSM has also added to its body of published material for viola with two volumes of More Time Pieces for Viola.

Principal Cello is also released today, containing a variety of pieces for Grades 6–8.

ABRSM examiner, syllabus moderator and violin teacher Jessica O’ Leary said the new repertoire lists were ‘full of the most beautiful melodies ever written for strings’.

‘They contain both new and core repertoire that both teachers and learners will love,’ she said.

Further details of the new syllabus can be found here.

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