Jean-Claude Picard is made associate conductor at RSNO
10 August 2015
Jean-Claude Picard, the young Canadian conductor in charge of the education programmes run by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), has been promoted.
Picard, who was previously assistant conductor with the RSNO on a two-year contract, has been made associate conductor and had his contract extended for a third year.
The orchestra said the change of title reflected his developing relationship with the ensemble and his central involvement in high-profile events over the past two years.
As well leading the RSNO’s learning and engagement activities and Children’s Classic Concerts, Picard has conducted performances at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games cultural celebrations and the Ryder Cup Opening Ceremony.
The extension of his contract will mean he can take part in the RSNO’s 125th anniversary celebrations, which begin in October.
Picard said: ‘Being promoted to the position of associate conductor of the RSNO means a great deal to me.
‘There is the undeniable aspect of being recognised by my fellow colleagues for all of the hard work I have put in over the last two years, but there is something crucial about the aspect of knowing that I will be able to share another year of extraordinary musical and human moments with everyone at the RSNO, especially with my mentors Peter Oundjian and Thomas Søndergård.’
Peter Oundjian, music director of the RSNO, said: ‘I’m delighted that Jean-Claude has accepted the post of associate conductor.
‘What he has so far achieved with the RSNO has been remarkable and far beyond what we had expected of an assistant conductor.
‘It therefore seems only right and proper that we recognise his contribution in this way. I very much look forward to working with him in celebrating the orchestra’s 125th anniversary.’
Lloyd Webber kicks off work on Birmingham Conservatoire's new home
7 August 2015
New study links musical training with accelerated brain development
6 August 2015, Katy Wright
A new study has revealed that musical training helps children to develop fine motor skills and aids their emotional and behavioural maturation.
Researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine analysed the brain scans of 232 healthy children aged between six and 18, looking at brain development in those who played musical instruments. As these children continued their musical training, it accelerated their cortical development in areas involved in coordination, anxiety management and emotional control.
James Hudziak, professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont and director of the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families said: I wanted to look at positive things, what we believe benefits child development. What I was surprised by was the emotional regulatory regions.'
'Everyone in our culture knows if I lift 5-pound, 10-pound, 15-pound weights, my biceps will get bigger. The same is true for the brain. We shouldn't be surprised we can train the brain.'
Since the study's participants were all mentally healthy, Hudziak predicts that the positive effect of music training could be significant for those who are not.
Yamaha piano selection sessions extended
4 August 2015, Katy Wright
Yamaha has extended its piano selection sessions at the Southbank Centre, London due to popular demand. Following the success of the 2014 edition, this year's event has been extended to three days, and will take place 16-18 October.
Individuals or representatives of institutions will be able to book 45-minute slots to view and evaluate Yamaha's professional series pianos in privacy, with a concert technician and a team of piano specialists at hand to provide advice.
The event will feature over 45 Yamaha pianos, including a wide range of CX and CF series instruments and, for the first time, a full range of the TransAcoustic models. There will be several public events, including demonstrations of the TransAcoustic instruments featuring Bert Smoernburg.
Yamaha's Leanne Barrell said: 'The selection sessions provide people who are serious about their pianos and music with an exclusive opportunity to play a wide range of Yamaha professional pianos in one place. The intimate and tranquil environment allows them to discuss their requirements with some of the UK's foremost technicians and specialists. They provide the most comprehensive range of Yamaha pianos in the UK and are a rare opportunity for pianists to try multiple variations of the same models.'
To book a private appointment, email email@example.com or call 01908 369224. The slots are between Friday 09:00-20:30, Saturday 09:00 – 19:55 and Sunday 09:00 – 17:25.
Save the bassoon, plead virtuoso players
4 August 2015, Katy Wright
Virtuoso bassoonists Bram van Sambeek and Laurence Perkins are highlighting the scarcity of their instrument as part of a new campaign.
Launched by Van Sambeek as part of the Holland Festival, 'Save the Bassoon' aims to increase awareness of the instrument through high-profile concerts and new works.
In an interview with the Guardian, Van Sambeek said: ‘The name of the campaign is deliberately quite dramatic because we want people to think about whether the bassoonist could be as endangered as the panda. There is a danger to the future of the orchestra as a result.
‘At the moment, only about 1% of people on the street can even recognise this instrument, I am always prepared for the fact that people won’t know what it is.
Van Sambeek will soon embark on a seven-week celebration of the instrument at Berlin’s Konzerthaus, and is currently looking to the future: ‘We have big plans for bassoon events of the kind that cannot necessarily be performed in a normal concert hall. I expect to have news soon of how we will link up with musicians and orchestras in other countries. The most important thing is to have more international events under the label of Save the Bassoon.’
Manchester Camerata principal bassoonist Laurence Perkins is organising the world's first International Bassoon Day, which will take place 11 October 2015. The event will comprise a mass performance on the steps of the Royal Albert Hall, a solo recital by Perkins himself, and a presentation called 'Bear-Faced Bassoonery' for young people. The event will launch a two-month project featuring more than50 free events at around 35 universities, music colleges, music hubs and schools around the UK to encourage young people to take up the instrument.
Perkins said: 'The bassoon is one of the most versatile and characterful instruments in the orchestra, yet young people are not being given the chance to find that out. This is beginning to have an impact on UK orchestras as music colleges no longer have the applicants to study bassoon in sufficient numbers.'
Ten years ago, the bassoon featured in the Endangered Species campaign, which also highlighted the plight of the oboe, horn, trombone, tuba and double bass. With fewer young people taking up the instrument, many musicians fear there will be shortages in bassoonists in the years to come.
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