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NCEM and OAE launch Baroque Strings resource

16 June 2015, Katy Wright

Cellist Ruth Alford explores the music of Bach
Cellist Ruth Alford explores the music of Bach

The National Centre of Early Music (NCEM) and players from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) have developed a free online teaching resource dedicated to baroque string playing.

Designed for students of grade 6 level and above and their teachers, Baroque Strings explores interpretation and technique in early 18th-century music for violin, viola and cello.

Written by Cathryn Dew (NCEM) and Cecelia Bruggemeyer (OAE), and featuring Helen Kruger (violin), Nicholas Logie (viola), Ruth Alford (cello) and Joe McHardy (harpsichord), Baroque Strings includes video clips of players performing music by Bach and Telemann, and talking about some of the challenges of its interpretation.

Movements from Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Violin, his Cello Suites and Telemann’s G major Concerto for Viola are used to explore techniques for creating a baroque sound on both historical and modern instruments. The resource covers issues including: choosing a tempo; understanding harmonic rhythm; Baroque gesture, phrasing and articulation; bowing; left-hand fingering; vibrato; and ornamentation.

Cherry Forbes, education director of the OAE, said: ‘Whether or not you have access to period instruments and bows, we hope the resource will provide an insight into some of the techniques used by today’s players of baroque music, and help inform your own decisions about performing this exciting and challenging repertoire.’

Baroque Strings began in 2013 as a project funded by Youth Music in which string players from York Arts Academy’s Symphony Orchestra played alongside members of the OAE and participated in a masterclass with Rachel Podger (who also led a workshop on baroque interpretation for string teachers).

Baroque Strings

Applications open for Allianz Junior Music Camp 2015

16 June 2015, Katy Wright

Applications are now open for the third Allianz Junior Music Camp.

10 pianists between eight and 14 years of age will be selected to participate in the camp, which will take place 18-24 November in Vienna. Selection will be based on ambition and desire to share the love for music with others as well as their technical and artistic skill.

Each student will participate in two rehearsal sessions per day with a professional piano teacher, concerts at local public schools, and a masterclass with Lang Lang. Sightseeing tours and activities are also arranged.

Transport, accommodation and catering for participants and one parent/guardian are provided by the Camp.

Scottish teenagers take part in RSNO work experience scheme

15 June 2015

© Tom Finnie

Forty-eight teenagers from across Scotland are taking part in a two-day work experience initiative at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) this week.

The young people, who are aged 16-18 and come from 20 local authorities, will plan, promote and present an orchestral concert.

They will join staff and musicians at the orchestra’s base in Glasgow on Monday 15 and Tuesday 16 June and will be assigned to various departments, from marketing and development to artistic planning, conducting and playing in the orchestra.

Some of the young people will learn practical workshop delivery skills, which they will then use to lead music workshops with primary aged pupils.

The programme will culminate in a performance with the RSNO at the end of the second day.

This is the second time the orchestra has run the scheme, after a successful pilot last year.

Many of the participants are also members of the RSNO’s Young Ambassador programme, which has been designed to develop interest in live orchestral music through school-aged advocates.

Jenn Minchin, director of learning and engagement at the RSNO, said: ‘We’re delighted to once again open our doors to an influx of youth in this way, giving them the chance to run one of Scotland’s busiest performing arts organisations.

‘It will provide valuable experience to those seeking to pursue employment in the arts, and is intended to be challenging, stimulating and fun.

‘You never know – we may very well have a future RSNO conductor or chief executive among our group.’

Music education recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

15 June 2015, Katy Wright

A former music teacher and the head of Liverpool’s Resonate music hub have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for 2015.

Louise Hough, assistant head of service at Resonate (formerly Liverpool Music Support Service) was awarded an MBE for services to music education. Hough, who runs the Resonate Music Studios at Gateacre School on Wednesday evenings and at Notre Dame Catholic College on Thursdays, said she was ‘overwhelmed’. She also directs Formby Brass Band.

David Pickthall, a former music teacher at Brentwood School, Essex, was also granted an MBE for services to education and charity. Pickthall, whose music appears in the Wallace and Gromit film A Grand Day Out, tweeted that he was: ‘deeply humbled’.

The other musicians to be honoured include composers James MacMillan and Karl Jenkins, who both received knighthoods for services to composing and crossing musical genres, Sir Neville Marriner, who was made a Companion of Honour, and choral conductor Simon Halsey, who received a CBE.

Music education praised at London Music Awards 2015

12 June 2015, Katy Wright

Mayor Boris Johnson with young winners
Mayor Boris Johnson with young winners

Eight London schools, four young performers and the Philharmonia’s Firebird outreach project were among those to receive recognition at the second London Music Awards (LMAs).

Four young musicians from the Mayor’s Music Fund scholarship programme were recognised for their achievements. Flautist Krum Didov (Hounslow), French horn player Louis Lodder (Hackney), Violinist Ibrahim Vatansever (Southwark) and cellist Aissha Jalloh (Tower Hamlets) were named this year’s outstanding music scholars (award sponsored by ABRSM. The Mayor’s Music Fund, which established the LMAs, spends £4,000 on each four-year scholarship, with between 70 and 100 awarded every year.

The LMAs also praised eight London schools for musical excellence (award sponsored by Universal Music and supported by the Mayor of London). Akiva School (Barnet), Camden School for Girls (Camden), Kingsmead Primary School (Hackney), Nelson Primary School (Newham), Preston Manor School (Brent), Townley Grammar School (Bexley), Trinity Special School (Barking & Dagenham) and Twyford C of E High School (Ealing) were applauded for providing exceptional musical experiences for their pupils.

The Philharmonia’s Firebird project, a collaboration with Hounslow Music Service, Richmond Music Trust and the Royal Ballet School, was awarded the outstanding musical partnership prize. The scheme brought together young musicians and dancers together with professionals in order to explore different approaches to Stravinsky’s Firebird.

Mayor Boris Johnson said: ‘An unbeatable mix of ingredients has helped make London the music capital of the world. Our city has produced amazingly talented musicians, who have gone on to conquer the globe. We have fantastic live music venues both large and small, where they hone their craft. As the London Music Awards show, schools across London are providing a fine musical education.’

The Mayor’s Music Fund was established in 2011 to address the imbalance in music provision and access across London, and has since awarded over £1.5m in grants. There are currently 305 scholars from 230 schools across all 32 London boroughs, with 8000 young musicians taking part in large scale music projects and partnerships. The charity has also enabled an additional 12,000 children have attended live performances. 

The Mayor's Music Fund

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