Obituary: Michael Kennedy, 19 February 1926 ‒ 31 December 2014
21 January 2015
The death of Michael Kennedy at the age of 88 removes perhaps the key remaining source of reminiscence of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Their close friendship meant the former’s biography of the composer carried a special authority, although (as Kennedy reminded me just before Christmas), ‘VW’ was frustratingly tight-lipped about his own music.
Kennedy’s passion for British music is also reflected in studies of Britten, Elgar and Walton. Other biographies include those of fellow (if adopted) Mancunian John Barbirolli (another close friend and like-minded cricket-lover) and Adrian Boult. To these must also be added significant works on Mahler and Richard Strauss, and editions of the Oxford Dictionary of Music which eventually also involved his devoted second wife Joyce. The couple’s shared love of opera prompted travels far and wide in recent times.
Above all, Kennedy was a journalist, rising to become northern editor of the Daily Telegraph, a post he held for 26 years having started his career at the paper as a 15-year-old copyboy. Always, however, there was the pull of music reviewing, both for the daily and Sunday editions. He was chief music critic of the latter until 2005. In an interview for CM we discussed whether or not he suffered from writer’s block. Occasionally, he admitted, ‘but once I find my first sentence, I’m off’.
Kennedy was an accomplished broadcaster on tv and radio, shown not least in contributions to Radio 3′s Building a Library, although he was never a sharply critical critic: he admitted it wasn’t his style.
The renaissance of the Hallé Orchestra under Mark Elder gave Kennedy huge satisfaction. Fitting, then, that this time last year he was putting his weight behind the orchestra’s involvement in a major project featuring his beloved Richard Strauss.
Trinity Laban - ‘Side by Side’ orchestral programme
20 January 2015
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance have announced an expansion of their popular ‘Side by Side’ orchestral programme.
This concert series, launched as a pilot programme in 2013, involves Trinity Laban students in performing works from the orchestral repertoire alongside experienced professionals, giving the students invaluable experience and mentorship. Appearing with Trinity Laban students will be current or former principal players from the Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, ENO Orchestra, London Mozart Players, London Sinfonietta, Britten Sinfonia and BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
Each ‘Side by Side’ project culminates in a free public performance in front of a large audience at Blackheath Halls. According to Havilland Wilshire, Assistant Director of Music and Head of Performance, the projects ‘really encapsulate the conservatoire experience. Students can learn from experienced professionals, make contacts within the profession, and gain performance skills in front of an appreciative audience’.
Three concerts have been announced for the spring of 2015, focusing on works by Beethoven, Tchaikowsky and Stravinsky:
Tue 3 Feb, 18.00h: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5
Fri 27 Feb, 18.00h: Tchaikowsky’s Symphony No. 6, the ‘Pathétique’
Venue: Great Hall, Blackheath Halls.
British Actress Rachel Shenton searches for next generation of Deaf Dance & Music Stars
19 January 2015
Former Hollyoaks star, Rachel Shenton, is helping the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) encourage young deaf dancers and musicians to showcase their performance skills and enter Raising the Bar, a new music and dance competition which launches this month.
Raising the Bar was developed by NDCS to make dance and music more accessible for the 45,000 deaf children and young people in the UK. It aims to increase the levels of deaf awareness through the arts, whilst also raising the expectations and standards of what deaf children and young people believe they can achieve.
Entrants to the competition (eight to 16-year-olds) will have until 22 February 2015, to create and submit a video of themselves performing a dance or music routine. Ten lucky winners will be selected by NDCS staff and leading deaf professionals from the arts industry, and invited to attend a two-day masterclass on 24 -25 May 2015.
Masterclass training sessions will be led by ‘Def Motion’, the UK's only touring deaf dance crew, the acclaimed deaf flutist Ruth Montgomery, and Danny Lane from ‘Music and the Deaf’, a charity working to ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy music.
The weekend will culminate in a live showcase of the newly found Raising the Bar stars, at The Rep Theatre in Birmingham, demonstrating exactly what deaf children and young people can achieve.
Hayley Jarvis, Head of Inclusive Activities for NDCS said: “Deaf children can do anything other children can do, given the right support. Participation in the arts gives deaf children and young people the chance to learn new skills, and feel more confident and empowered – and participation is what Raising the Bar is all about!
“We will also be developing a ‘toolkit’ for teachers to raise the awareness and expectations of deaf dance and music professionals. We hope this will inspire professionals across the arts to deliver accessible activities for deaf children and young people.”
Dawsons Music Announce New Education Team
16 January 2015
Dawsons Music, the multi channel music retailer, has announced Dawn Ashworth Hayward as the new Sales and Marketing Manager of their expanded Education Division.
Working closely with Director of Education, William Thompson, a former music teacher and adviser, and former choral scholar of the Kings College Choir, Dawn will input increased focus into schools, colleges and Universities. The Warrington Head Office team has recently quadrupled in size, highlighting the importance of Education as a growth area to Dawsons.
“Dawn’s wealth of experience and industry knowledge has already made her a key addition to the Dawsons family,” noted Mark Taylor, Managing Director, Dawsons Music. “The growth of the Education Division signifies our intentions within this sector, and I’m confident that Dawn will play a key role in providing and implementing high quality solutions for our existing and new Education customers in the UK and Internationally.”
rior to joining Dawsons, Dawn worked for Findel Education, managing 2 of the largest brands in the portfolio, bringing with her a wealth of experience in the Education sector. Dawn has previously worked within the fashion and clothing industries, specialising in creative and strategic branding and marketing in both UK and International markets.
Five RHS pupils recruited by National Youth Choirs of Great Britain
15 January 2015
The Royal Hospital School, Suffolk, has five current pupils in the prestigious National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. Sally Watson (Year 11) recently gained a place in the National Youth Training Choir of Great Britain joining George Rennison (Year 13), Taylor Godfrey (Year 10), Dan Waterman (Year 10) and Tom Brown (Year 9).
William Saunders, Director of Music at the Royal Hospital School, said "This is a staggering achievement – the choir equivalent of an Olympic team. The Royal Hospital School has a long tradition of choral excellence and this success is testament to the hard work and devotion to singing shown by these young people.”
Established in 1983, The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (NYCGB) is renowned for its standards in the education and training of young singers and the main choir – the National Youth Choir - is firmly recognised as one of the world’s finest vocal ensembles. Originally set up as a single choir of 100 of the best singers in the nation, NYCGB now provides the widest musical experiences for over 750 young people aged 8-26.
The educational structure comprises four Junior Choirs which provide opportunities for girls to audition from the age of 11 and boys from the age of 8, two Training Choirs for singers aged 13-18 and the National Youth Choir itself for singers aged 16-22.Through its core programme of activities, NYCGB provides the experience of a lifetime for its members, working alongside distinguished conductors and choirs. The 12 residential courses that form the backbone of the annual activity include intensive rehearsals, individual voice coaching and lessons in musicianship, all of which take place in an environment that develops both teamwork and leadership. The courses aim to develop performance skills at the highest level, challenging young singers to embrace a vast repertoire and develop a flexible and creative approach to musical performance. NYCGB also operates a programme of tuition for student conductors and vocal workshops led by guest specialists, all selected for their expertise in the field of choral training.
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