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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.

Bram van Sambeek

August issue out now

3 August 2015

In this issue’s wind focus, we examine how wind instruments can be a great tool for whole class instrumental teaching; road testing the market in beginner clarinets; how top players are increasingly teaching on tour using distance learning technology; and flute specialist Jonathan Myall Music celebrates 30 years in the business. Plus, as the English Baccalaureate returns after the Conservatives’ election win, Alex Stevens takes a look at the ramifications for music and arts subjects; introducing the new strings and harp syllabuses for ABRSM and Trinity; the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain’s Sarah Alexander discusses her new Inspire Orchestra founded to encourage young players and teenage audiences; profiling league table-enhancing options for music at KS4 from GCSEs and BTEC to Rockschool and NCFE; and where to turn for advice on teaching music technology.
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Nominations open for Music Teacher Awards for Excellence

29 July 2015

Nominations are now open for the 2016 Music Teacher Awards for Excellence.
There are 13 categories in total, two of which are new for 2016. Nominations are being accepted for all categories except the Music Teacher Magazine Editor’s Award and the Music Education Council Major Award.
The 13 award categories include: Best Musical Initiative, sponsored by the Royal Marines Band Service; Best Music Education Product; Excellence in Primary/Early Years Music; the Musicians’ Union Inspiration Award; and Best School Music Department, sponsored by the MMA.

The new categories this year are the Music Education Council Major Award and the award for Best Musical Theatre/Drama Education Resource.

Nominations are being invited from teachers, students, parents and music professionals.

Organisations, individuals and companies wishing to nominate a product, service or individual should complete the form online at www.musicteacherawards.co.uk.

The judges will use the information provided in the nominations, combined with their own research, to make their decisions. The deadline for nominations is 23 October 2015.

Launched in 2013, the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence celebrate outstanding achievements in the UK’s music education sector.

At last year’s awards, Richard Morris, the consultant and chairman of the Yehudi Menuhin School, who was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

This year’s awards will be presented on 25 February 2016 at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in Kensington, London.

Guy Fletcher receives honorary degree from London College of Music

27 July 2015

Songwriter Guy Fletcher has received an honorary degree from the London College of Music, part of the University of West London.

The graduation ceremony took place at Wembley Stadium on 23 July.

Working with lyricist Doug Flett, Fletcher has had a long list of international successes including three songs recorded by Elvis Presley and 11 tracks with Cliff Richard.

His ballad Fallen Angel is currently in the Broadway hit show Jersey Boys.

For more than a decade, he was the chairman of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. He was awarded an OBE for services to British music in the Queen’s birthday honours in 2005.

Fletcher said, ‘I am lucky to have enjoyed a career working with incredibly talented people, and am delighted to receive this honour from the University of West London. I look forward to continuing to represent the rights of composers and creators of music.’
The University of West London’s eight schools confer honorary degrees to recognise business success, contributions to civic and cultural life and long-term support for the university’s work.

RPS grants to benefit young musicians

24 July 2015, Katy Wright

Trumpeter Imogen Hancock
Trumpeter Imogen Hancock

Composer Michael Taplin
Composer Michael Taplin

The Royal Philharmonic Society has announced a number of new grants and commissions for young performers and composers. A total of £65k will be awarded to musicians at the start of professional careers for 2015/16.

Six composers have been awarded the RPS composition prize, each receiving a cash prize and a major commission. Desmond Clarke, Michael Taplin and Patrick John Jones will write for the Philharmonia’s Music of Today series and will join the Philharmonia’s Young Composers Academy, while Hunter Coblenz will write a new work for the 2016 Cheltenham Festival. Ninfea Crutwell-Reade has been commissioned for a chamber piece for the 2016 Presteigne Festival, and Dani Howard has also received a RPS commission.

Two Royal Academy of Music graduates will travel to Germany for advanced study thanks to Julius Isserlis Scholarships. Violinist Kristine Balanas will receive £10k to enable her to study at the Hochschule fur Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin, while trumpeter Imogen Hancock has been granted £5k towards further study.

16 students have been awarded grants totaling £20,150 to purchase quality instruments. Conservatoire principals were asked to nominate the students most in need of help, with the awards going towards a range of instruments including two French horns, a bass clarinet, a piccolo and an accordion.

RPS executive director Rosemary Johnson said: ‘The need to support young musicians is becoming more acute; year-on-year, we have seen an increase in the number of young musicians who apply for RPS grants, and our available funds are sadly unable to keep pace. For example, whilst we are delighted to have been able to make awards totaling more than £20,000 towards instrument purchase, there was a further £74,000 of requests – all deserving serious consideration – that we were sadly not able to meet. This suggests that across the country, there are significant numbers of music students whose musical development is being slowed, and in some cases, irreparably harmed, by an inability to purchase the simple tools of the trade, with serious implications for music now and in the future.’

The RPS Young Musicians Programme supports around 30 young musicians at the start of their careers, offering them financial aid as well as providing them with opportunities for mentoring, specialist study and coaching. Alumni include Stephen Hough and Alina Ibragimova.

The Royal Philharmonic Society

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