2012 Choir of the Year gets under way
9 August 2012
More than 150 choirs of all ages and musical styles have performed at regional auditions across the UK to reach the category finals of Choir of the Year, a national amateur group singing competition. The 16 category finalists are now competing to win a place in the grand final at London's Royal Festival Hall on 28 October. The final will be broadcast on BBC Four.
Since 1984 more than 130,000 singers of all ages have taken part in the competition, a biennial festival of singing, performing in a wide array of styles – pop, gospel, barbershop, classical and world music. Choirs have the opportunity to perform in front of an audience and judges provide instant feedback and written guidance notes following the heat.
The 2012 competition categories are Open Choirs, with no upper or lower age limits; Children’s Choirs, with most singers 12 and under; Youth Choirs, with most singers 18 and under; and Adult Choirs. The competition’s semi-finals will be held at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester on 6 October.
Judge Paul Mealor, who composed music for the Royal Wedding and the Military Wives, said: 'I'm so thrilled to be helping judge this fantastic event - something I've followed and loved for years. This competition really shows off the very best in choral singing and lets the world see and hear how great our choirs really are.'
Choir of the Year is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Liz Forgan to become chair of NYO
9 August 2012
Liz Forgan, the former chair of Arts Council England, has been appointed chair of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYO) and will take up the job in January. She takes over from Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, who has been in the role for eight years.
An NYO spokesman said: 'Her vast experience in the arts, and widely admired strategic vision, will support the NYO to develop their national status within the National Music Education Plan, supporting and nurturing young musicians to progress.'
Forgan commented that the National Music Education Plan and the creation of the new music hubs 'provide NYO with a wonderful opportunity to connect with and inspire young musicians from all over Great Britain'.
Purcell School appoints new headmaster
6 August 2012
David Thomas, the former head of Reigate Grammar School, has been appointed headmaster at the Purcell School, a specialist music school in Hertfordshire.
The school’s governors say they are confident he has 'the necessary experience, vision and total commitment that will be required to move the school forward'. Thomas read music at Oxford and is on the Academic Policy Committee of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference. He is a former Chair of HMC South East Division, a former A-level examiner, and an ISI Inspector.
This year is also the school's 50th anniversary. Royal Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales commented: 'Since I became the school’s Patron in 1985, I have followed its development with close interest and it is a great pleasure for me to see the school reach its 50th year.
The school currently educates 180 talented young musicians, all of whom board. Its alumni includes conductor Paul Daniel, cellist Robert Cohen, oboist Nicholas Daniel, violinist Jack Liebeck, harpist Catrin Finch and horn player Tim Thorpe.
Farnham Youth Choir triumphs at World Choir Games
27 July 2012
Farnham Youth Choir (FYC) has returned to the UK after winning Gold and Silver medals at the World Choir Games, held this year in Cincinnati, USA.
An upper-voice community choir of 43 singers (40 girls and 3 boys), FYC was the sole UK representative at the games, having been invited to represent the UK by the Association of British Choral Directors. FYC’s co-founder and musical director David Victor-Smith said: 'We simply could not have performed better, which is all one can ever ask for. Every member of the choir upped their game for the performance and suddenly all the hard work, the sacrifices, the pre-competition nerves and anxiety vanished into a collective euphoria!'
Choir member Elizabeth, 17, said: 'Just knowing that months of hard work and concentration had worked out to create something beautiful... it was amazingly satisfying. A standing ovation after our last number, Las Amarillas - with everyone crying and hugging afterwards - nothing could have brought us down from that high!'
After its success in Cincinatti, FYC travelled to Connecticut to give a fundraising concert. The choir concluded its tour with a 40-minute recital of sacred music at St Paul’s Chapel, Ground Zero, New York.
Four new In Harmony projects revealed
16 July 2012
The Department for Education (DfE) and Arts Council England (ACE) have released details of four new In Harmony projects, the result of a government call, in last year’s National Plan for Music, for the In Harmony programme to be extended.
The new projects will be based in Gateshead, Leeds, Nottingham and Telford. They will be run by The Sage Gateshead, Opera North, Nottingham City Council and Telford & Wrekin Music Service. Each will be funded from September 2012 until March 2015, in line with renewed funding for the existing In Harmony projects in Lambeth and Liverpool. The third of the original In Harmony projects, In Harmony Norwich, has not had its funding renewed.
The DfE will invest a total of £500,000 per project between 2012 and 2015. This will be matched by ACE, which will also take a central coordinating and development role. The projects will receive £250,000 for 2012-13, £150,000 for 2013-14 and £100,000 for 2014-15.
In Harmony aims to use orchestral music-making to bring positive change to the lives of children and their communities in disadvantaged areas, based on methods developed over 35 years by Venezuela’s El Sistema programme. ‘I am confident that the organisations that we have selected will embrace the spirit of El Sistema and will work tirelessly to bring positive change to the children and their communities,’ said Julian Lloyd Webber, founder of the In Harmony programme and chairman of In Harmony Sistema England.
A statement from ACE said: ‘All six In Harmony projects will be encouraged to be entrepreneurial and to inspire other investment to help secure a sustainable longer-term future. They will operate within a national evaluation framework to ensure they provide evidence demonstrating how the In Harmony approach can transform the lives of children and their families in areas of deprivation.’
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