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Northern Ireland Organ Competition relaxes programming rules for Intermediate and Junior entrants

3 June 2013

Entries are invited for the 2013 Northern ireland International Organ Competition, taking place in the cathedral city of Armagh 19-21 August. The event is unique in being restricted to players aged 21 and under and provides a valuable opportunity for young organists to have a first experience of playing to a top-level jury in an unfamiliar but supportive environment. 

The Senior category, appropriate for assistant organists and organ scholars at cathedrals, collegiate chapels and major parish churches, carries a first prize of £1,000 plus a professional CD recording, with recitals at venues such as Westminster Abbey, Trinity College Cambridge, St Michael's, Cornhill in the City of London and cathedrals in Dublin, Londonderry and London for the first, second and third prizewinners. Competition programmes of diploma level must last 20 minutes and include at least three pieces, one of which must be a major work by J S Bach or part thereof.
Programming restrictions have been changed this year for the Intermediate (Grades 6-8) and Junior (Grades 4-5) categories, in order to allow more flexibility for candidates to play pieces they have already prepared for exams or performances earlier in the year. Candidates in the Intermediate and Junior categories must play balanced programmes of two or three pieces, lasting 12 and eight minutes respectively. 
All candidates will be adjudicated by a panel consisting of David Hill, chief conductor of the BBC Singers (chair); Mattias Wager, organist of Stockholm Cathedral; and Gerard Gillen, professor emeritus in music of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. 
Three travel bursaries of up to £100 each are available for candidates from outside the UK and Ireland. More information from http://www.niioc.com

Portable criminal records check certificates to be available from 17 June

3 June 2013

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), formerly the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), has announced that its new update service will be introduced on 17 June. The service will allow teachers and all those working with children and vulnerable people, including volunteers, to obtain a re-usable, portable DBS certificate which they can take from role to role. As a result of this improvement, they will no longer have to apply for a new criminal record check each time they apply for a job.

Registration with the service will cost £13 per year and individuals will only have to apply for one certificate. The update service will make getting a DBS certificate much more affordable and much less time-consuming.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), which helped to bring about this change through its portable criminal records check campaign, says this is welcome news for music professionals who undertake teach and/or supervisory work with children at multiple schools or organisations or in multiple job roles.

More information is available on the DBS website.


RNCM appoints new head of school of strings

22 May 2013

The Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) has appointed Chris Hoyle as head of school of strings, with effect from 1 June.
An alumnus of the RNCM, Mr Hoyle is a cellist who has worked extensively as a chamber musician, orchestral player, soloist and teacher. During 23 years with the BBC Philharmonic he made more than 100 CD recordings and played in over 100 Proms concerts; he has performed as guest principal with many UK orchestras, given solo concerts nationwide and as a chamber musician is active with the McFarlane string quartet, Psappha and several small ensembles within the BBC.
Mr Hoyle joined the Junior RNCM as a cello tutor in 2002 before taking the position of deputy head of school of strings in 2010. His new appointment has been made in the wake of Malcolm Layfield being forced to resign as a result of the investigations into abuse at specialist music schools in Manchester. Martin Roscoe, whose principled stand against the appointment of Layfield some years ago cost him his own job as head of keyboard, welcomed the news of Chris Hoyle's promotion to a role which he had effectively been fulfilling for the past year, describing him as 'a thoroughly nice guy with no baggage and no guru-type image ... exactly what the college needs at this time'.
Mr Hoyle said of his appointment: 'It's a great honour to be leading the school of strings at the RNCM and to be working with such a team of fine string players. I've spent 25 years working as a performer in the heart of the music profession: I know its demands and the challenges which music students face. My approach is to maintain the very highest artistic ideals, yet to speak of their attainment n plain English, to demystify the arts and to educate the students with total focus. I'm as passionate about music-making as ever and my hope is that the RNCM's string students will themselves enjoy a fulfilling career within this profession.' www.rncm.ac.uk

Sing for Pleasure announces members of its Young Conductors programme 2013

22 May 2013

The choral charity Sing for Pleasure (SfP) has announced the recipients of awards for its Young Conductors programme, funded by a number of grants from Charitable Trusts and Foundations, the Young Conductors are Neil Balfour, Nick Graham, Joshua Cirtina and Helen Briggs.
The four scholars were selected by the SfP management committee after an open call to applicants. Each prospective scholar undertook a written application and telephone interview. The scholars receive access to an annual programme with attendance on SfP conducting courses, a choir placement and mentoring support from course tutors.
Yorkshire based Neil Balfour is a recent graduate from Leeds College of Music who currently leads a number of choirs in the Yorkshire area. Nick Graham, from Guildford, is a student at the University of Oxford who has previously set up a youth choir in his local area and is passionate about the development of choral singing for young people. 
Future RNCM student Joshua Cirtina from Lancashire currently sings in a number of choirs and quartets and also conducts a wind orchestra, whilst Somerset based Helen Briggs holds a music degree from the Birmingham Conservatoire and is involved in a number of youth choirs including the Wells Cathedral School Choir.
Manvinder Rattan, Head of Conductor Training commented: "The standard of applicants has been extremely high and we are delighted to be able to provide a springboard for these young musicians. I'm thrilled that we can play a real part in finding and fostering such promising choral talent".
Neil Balfour said: 'It feels like a great privilege to be offered both a scholarship and the support and encouragement of Sing for Pleasure. Their vast knowledge and expertise and the access to events and mentoring means that I will be able to experience opportunities I would otherwise be very unlikely to. I am immensely grateful to be given the chance to develop my expertise in choral conducting and directing.'
Sing for Pleasure was launched in Bristol in 1964 as a musical society that celebrated all stages of choral and conductor development. Nearly 50 years later, the charity has a national reach, says its members are more passionate than ever about music and has built an excellent professional reputation. The charity has been delivering high quality accredited training courses for over 45 years. www.singforpleasure.org.uk

BBC adds new jazz award to Young Musician competition

22 May 2013

A new jazz award has been added for 2014 to the BBC's biennial Young Musician competition, which was launched on 20 May. The jazz award will comprise two audition stages followed by a final on 8 March 2014 at
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD). Entry forms for the award will be available from 1 August 2013 with a closing date of 18 October 2013. 'BBC Young Musician has provided a platform for outstanding young musicians for the past 35 years,' said  Jan Younghusband, commissioning editor, BBC Music and Events. 'It's become a valuable partner in the development of young talent and has helped to launch the careers of some of the UK's finest performers. The jazz award will further extend the reach of the competition and we look forward to showcasing another group of exceptional young people when BBC Young Musician reaches its broadcast stage early next year. '
Entries are now invited for the five mainstream categories of keyboard, strings, brass, wind and percussion. Two regional audition stages starting in September this year will be followed by five category finals at the RWCMD next March, leading to a competition semi-final also at the RWCMD where three category winners will be chosen to play concertos with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kirill Karabits, at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on 18 May 2014. Entrants must be Grade 8 standard or above, 18 years of age or under on 1 January 2014 and resident in the United Kingdom (including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands).
Violinist Nicola Benedetti has accepted an ambassadorial for the competition, which she won in 2004 and which she says holds 'extraordinary memories' for her and is 'one of the greatest examples of the UK's commitment to developing young musicians'. The 2014 final will not only mark the tenth anniversary of her win in the Usher Hall in her native Scotland, but will take place in the hall's centenary year.
The winner receives a prize of £3,000 and a specially commissioned trophy in addition to the title, and the three finalists also receive the support of a two-year aftercare scheme paid for by the BBC and run by the Young Classical Artist Trust. 'BBC Young Musician has changed my life, me as a musician and me as a person,' says cellist Laura van der Heijden, who won the 2012 competition. 'It has given me the most unbelievable start to my career! You get to meet new people, experience new situations and focus wholly on music, which is fantastic. Immediately after the final I started to have new expectations of myself; I am no longer content with playing that may be good for my age.'
More information about BBC Young Musician 2014 including how to enter: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00bb3wt


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