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Leslie East to take reins at ABCD in new year

25 August 2014

The Association of British Choral Directors (ABCD) held its 29th annual convention over the bank holiday weekend in the new buildings of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

The weekend included presentations on repertoire, conducting skills and community choirs. Masterclasses were held for intermediate and advanced level conductors, with hands-on advice also available for less experienced conductors.

The Association of British Choral Directors's 29th convention has seen a raft of awards, presentations and big news announcements. 

Presenters and composers attended from home and abroad, including Paul Brough, Paul Deegan, Peter Hanke (Denmark), Jeff Howard, Sofi Jeannin (France), Karl Jenkins, Paul Mealor, Adrian Partington, Katie Thomas, Janice Thompson, Will Todd, and Sanna Valvanne (Finland/USA).

The convention featured the presentation of a new award: the ABCD’s inaugural Chair’s Award for excellence in choral leadership was presented to Gillian Dibden, in particular recognition of her work with youth choirs in Berkshire.

The big news was of musical chairs at the top. It was the last convention as chair for Jonathan Startup. This January he will be handing the role over to Leslie East, the outgoing CEO of ABRSM.


GCSE results 2014: the breakdown

22 August 2014

This year was the second in a row that the GCSE A*-G pass rate has fallen, down to 98.5% from 98.8% in 2013. However, the proportion of students achieving an A*-C grade rose from 68.1% to 68.8% - with one in four exams awarded a C grade.

Music GCSE saw 8.9% of entrants achieving an A* grade (down from 9.1% last year), but an overall rise of entrants by around 1,000. 22.4% of Music GCSEs were awarded an A grade; 25.7% received a B; 19.3% achieved a C; 11.8% a D; 10.9% received grades E-G; and 1% of entrants did not pass.

Friday Afternoons seeks young songwriter

19 August 2014

The 2014 Britten Young Songwriter Competition is on the hunt for a new song which is based on traditional folk influences, from anywhere in the world.

Aldeburgh Music’s international singing project, Friday Afternoons, was launched three years ago in celebration of the centenary of composer Benjamin Britten. The website was initially set up to help engage Suffolk school children in singing, providing them with twelve songs that were written for children by Benjamin Britten. Friday Afternoons quickly spread to become an international project, with thousands of schools and choirs downloading the songs and resources to learn the music for the annual grand finale event.

This year Aldeburgh Music commissioned nine new, fun songs which are all inspired by traditional folk texts. Musicians aged 18 or under are now invited to take part in the Young Songwriter Competition to set music to a traditional folk text from anywhere in the world. Winners from the competition’s two categories (13 or younger, and 14-18) will have their song recorded and published on the Friday Afternoons website, and performed at Snape Maltings concert hall as part of the national Friday Afternoons culmination event.

Entries for the competition must be received by Wednesday 10 September. For more information, visit the Friday Afternoons website

Double Gold for Cantate

14 August 2014

Mixed voice youth choir Cantate has returned from the World Choir Games in Latvia as a double gold medal winner.

Cantate, now in its twentieth year, is particularly remarkable as it currently runs three choirs that are open to anyone to join, without audition. Its repertoire spans classical, pop and world music genres, and the choirs perform regularly across the UK as well as abroad. All members are given percussion and rhythm workshops as part of their musical education, and their bursary fund means that no student is turned away on financial grounds.

The World Choir Games is the world’s largest choir competition. It takes place every two years, each time on a different continent. This year the Games was held in Riga, Latvia, with 29 categories open to amateur choirs of any genre or line-up. Cantate has taken part in previous Games, winning a gold medal in Austria 2008.

Cantate has been led by Nicholas Shaw and Graham Instrall since 2010, who head an inspirational team of pianists, directors and singing teachers. The choir is proud to have the active support of three honorary patrons: Baroness Genista McIntosh, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe and composer Mark-Anthony Turnage.

Music For Youth festival round-up

14 August 2014

This year’s Music For Youth National Festival celebrated its tenth year in Birmingham this summer. Nearly 11,000 young people and over 1,000 teachers came together to perform to many more thousands of friends, family and music lovers.

During the week around 300 music ensembles took to the various festival stages, which this year were expanded to include a ‘fringe’ festival on satellite stages around the city. In addition to the wide range of musical styles being performed, the festival also included a number of workshops and master classes which were presented by arts organisations from across the UK.

Two new developments this year were daily ‘Ten past two…performances by the pros’, and an Interactive Zone where people could try out the huge collection of instruments on show.

Music groups interested in taking part in the new MFY season can enter regional events from Monday 13 October, via the Music For Youth website.

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