Benedetti praises MiSST scheme
13 May 2015, Katy Wright
The MiSST concert, 11 May 2015
Nicola Benedetti posted a message on social media to congratulate those involved in the Music in Secondary Schools Trust (MiSST) inaugural Barbican concert.
The violinist was a guest performer at the event on 11 May, in which several hundred students performed in a professional music venue for the first time. The programme included works by Vivaldi and Lloyd Webber.
In a Facebook post on 12 May, Benedetti wrote: ‘An enormous congratulations to all involved in what was an unforgettable night last night. Six schools joined hands in a triumphant performance at the Barbican Centre to celebrate almost 10 years of hard work achieved by the Music in Secondary Schools (MiSST) programme - which brings high level music education to thousands of children in schools in the London boroughs of Islington, Newham and Waltham Forest, completely free of charge. The diligence, consistency, honest work and perseverance shown by every teacher was deeply inspirational - many of us on and off stage had to keep our emotions in check. The trust and admiration all the students have for their teachers was equally moving to witness, as was seeing each child stride on to the Barbican stage with confidence. Not just play-acting confidence, but the kind that comes with knowing you've put in the hours and are capable of doing a good job.
‘I would like to give a special mention to the extraordinary Truda White, founder of MiSST, ex-headteacher of Highbury Grove School and all round force of nature. Her no-nonsense but full of love approach is infectious and I learn a thing a minute being around her. She is someone who thoroughly understands how to maintain high standards without sacrificing the numbers of children taking part. It is an ongoing honour knowing and working with her.
'I was tasked with closing the evening with a few words and spoke about music and its place in education.
I said that music shouldn't be seen as just another subject added to the already overwhelming school day, but instead as the one subject that permeates all the others. It deals with matters of soul and spirit, and impacts the very core of who we are individually and collectively.
'Learning to listen, feel and care - these are qualities we should be walking away from school with.'
Founded by the Andrew Lloyd Webber foundation, MiSST launched at Highbury Grove School on 23 April 2013. The trust provides individual instruments and music lessons free of cost to entire year groups across six secondary schools in London. Students learn a classical music instrument for a minimum of three years, performing regularly in ensembles.
The Music in Secondary Schools Trust
BBC Concert Orchestra kicks off Ten Pieces concert series
13 May 2015
A previous BBC Concert Orchestra education project. © Pete Huggins
The BBC Concert Orchestra will give two free schools concerts at the Southbank Centre in London today as part of the BBC’s Ten Pieces initiative.
More than 4,000 primary schoolchildren from across London will attend the concerts, which are the first in a series being given by the BBC’s performing groups across the UK.
Ten Pieces is a year-long project led by BBC Learning and the BBC’s performing groups, with the aim of introducing primary school children to classical music.
More than 120,000 children attended screenings of the BBC’s Ten Pieces film in October 2014 and nearly half of all primary schools have signed up to the project.
Teachers have also been given resources to explore the music in their own lessons, inspiring pupils to create their own responses through compositions, dance, digital art or animation.
A special Prom at the Royal Albert Hall in July will showcase these creative responses.
Andrew Connolly, general manager of the BBC Concert Orchestra, said: ‘The scale and size of the project, with nearly half of all the UK’s primary schools signed up, is a great example of something that only the BBC could do.
‘We’re really looking forward to welcoming more than 4,000 children to these two concerts, to experience the powerful sound of a live orchestra.’
Performances will follow in Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Salford, Whitehaven, Kings Lynn, Thurrock, Derby and Wales before the big BBC Proms performance in July.
Soprano Lisa Milne to teach at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
12 May 2015, Katy Wright
Lisa Milne gives a masterclass
Lisa Milne will join the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) as a member of the teaching staff at the start of the next academic year. She will return to her alma mater as the latest addition to a department which includes soprano Jane Eaglen and tenor Iain Paton.
Milne was one of the first artists to join the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme. As well as appearing in concert halls and on opera house stages across the world, she regularly performs in recital with Malcolm Martineau.
Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, RCS principal, said: 'Lisa is one of the world’s leading opera singers with an enormously distinguished international career. She is an inspirational performer and teacher and her passion for her art will motivate the next generation of opera singers from the RCS.'
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Friday Afternoons to launch new resources for 2015
11 May 2015, Katy Wright
Friday Afternoons performance at Snape Maltings, 22-11-13Tony Pick
The Friday Afternoons initiative will launch new resources for 2015 on 18 May, including a new song cycle commissioned from American composer Nico Muhly.
The project will culminate on 20 November with a live-streamed performance day at Snape Maltings. Participating groups can apply for grants of up to £2,000.
More than 70,000 children have participated in the award-winning Aldeburgh Music initiative, which was launched in November 2011 as part of the celebrations of Benjamin Britten's centenary. Schoolchildren from across the world were encouraged to learn Friday Afternoons, a set of twelve songs composed by the young Britten, and then upload their performance on 22 November 2013 (the composer's 100th birthday). Arts Council England recently awarded a grant of £200k to allow Aldeburgh Music to develop Friday Afternoons over the next 10 years.
Hedley Swain, South East area director of Arts Council England, said: 'Friday Afternoons was a wonderful success as part of the Britten Centenary and we are really pleased to be able to support its continuation with an Exceptional Award. The development of Friday Afternoons will put in place the support, training and high quality materials required to ensure more children and young people in England have the chance to become involved in and enjoy singing.'
Aldeburgh Music's other outreach projects include Aldeburgh Sings, a three-year programme aimed at ethnic minority groups and those at risk of social inclusion, and another three-year project working within criminal justice settings. The projects have received funding of £174,811 from Youth Music and £135,000 from the Monument Trust respectively.
Make music compulsory like maths and English, says Nicola Benedetti
11 May 2015
© BBC/Simon Fowler
Children should be forced to learn about classical music in the same way they have lessons in maths, science, history or English, according to violinist Nicola Benedetti.
In an interview with Scotland on Sunday, the 27-year-old said: ‘Children should be exposed to anything that has the sophistication and breadth of unbelievable content that classical music does, just as I think they should be exposed to the greatest books ever written.
‘You’re not just developing concentration and focus in order to try to understand the music. You are also getting something that has life lessons, has beauty, has uplift and joy and sorrow and tragedy – all the things that you will have to deal with in your life at some point.’
Benedetti also criticised parents who allow their children to play video games rather than introducing them to the arts.
‘It actually really upsets me when people say: “Kids hate listening to a symphony, why would we do that to them?”
‘Needing the child’s approval for what they do in school is just such an alien concept when you’re talking about maths, science, history or English.
‘But suddenly, when you bring music into the mix, it’s: “Oh no, we can’t show them anything that they don’t instantly love because that would be like forcing children into something that they don’t want to do.” It just bemuses me.’
Benedetti, who won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 2004, is involved in education initiatives including Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise project.
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