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Vivienne Price 1931 - 2014

13 November 2014

Vivienne Price, who has died aged 83, founded the National Children’s Orchestras, a group that has provided valuable musical opportunities to generations of children. Among its alumni are the conductors Robin Ticciati and Daniel Harding, the cellist Guy Johnston and the violinist Nicola Benedetti.

In an interview with Ivan Hewett from The Daily Telegraph in 2010, Vivienne explained her reasons for doing so:

“I’d always wondered, why do we have a national youth orchestra but nothing for the younger ones...I imagined someone would do something about it one day, but no one did, so I thought, well, I’d better have a go.”

A loan of £60 from a relative was used to produce thousands of NCO leaflets, which were distributed around the country, and the first one-week course was held in Eastbourne, ending with a concert in the Winter Gardens. “We played the Radetzky March,” she recalled, “and I still remember the first rehearsal. It was absolutely awful.”

In the early days the NCO was run from Vivienne’s sitting room and tutors were brought in from orchestras and music colleges. The first concert was a sell-out, and Vivienne was inundated with applications from children wanting to join.

After suffering ill health in the late 1990s, Vivienne passed the baton to Roger Clarkson, who is now the NCO’s Principal Director of Music. She subsequently recovered and was able to maintain close links with the NCO, including conducting the Training Orchestra this summer.

Sir Harrison Birtwistle to work with students from Birmingham Conservatoire.

12 November 2014

 Sir Harrison Birtwistle, widely acknowledged as one of Britain’s greatest living composers, is to work with young composers and musicians from Birmingham Conservatoire. Sir Harrison will hold a public masterclass with composition students on Friday 28 November and will give talks about his work;  selections from his work will be performed alongside work of the Conservatoire’s postgraduate composers. T

he event coincides with Sir Harrison’s 80th birthday and also offers audiences the chance to hear his much talked about Panic that caused a furore at Last Night of The Proms in 1995. Joe Cutler, head of composition at Birmingham Conservatoire, said: ‘We’re hugely excited about welcoming Sir Harrison Birtwistle to Birmingham Conservatoire and delighted that he will be working with so many performers and composers during his visit. ‘Harrison Birtwistle is a composer of immense international stature ... he has pursued a path of unwavering artistic commitment in developing a truly original, daring and unique compositional voice.  It’s wonderful that our students, the next generation of performers and composers, will benefit from his vast insight and wisdom’.

Sir Harrison’s visit to Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University, forms part of a weekend festival, ‘Birtwistle in Birmingham’. The festival builds on the Conservatoire’s retrospectives of Pierre Boulez, Louis Andriessen, Heiner Goebbels and Robert Ashley in recent years.

For the full programme, visit www.bcu.ac.uk/birtwistle.

Daisy Rock supports Youth Music

10 November 2014

Daisy Rock are supporting Youth Music by helping girls to play guitar and they will be donating 2% from each guitar or accessory sold.

Daisy Rock aims to give girls the confidence and the musical tools to play whatever music they want. Daisy Rock guitars are smaller,  they have a slim neck profile and are lightweight, which makes playing easier for people with smaller hands. With the contour designed to fit the body, they are extremely comfortable.

Youth Music engage young people engage in music-making of all genres, helping them to work through personal and social issues while developing their musical skills. Daisy Rock will be supporting our investment in hundreds of projects across the country each year, providing music-making opportunities for over 90,000 young people. Several Youth Music projects are designed specifically to support young women, including Warrington Youth Service’s Girl Band. Watch this video which follows project participants through the songwriting process:


Nicky Morgan: ‘I want to build a new deal for teacher workload – and I need your help’

7 November 2014

Nicky Morgan, secretary of state for education, writes: ‘Every day, thousands of teachers rise to the challenge of giving our children and young people the essential skills, knowledge and values they need to prepare them for life in modern Britain. This country has world-class teachers and I have huge respect for the way the teaching profession has worked with us over the last few years to implement much-needed reforms. You are the ones who are putting this government’s plan for education into action.  But too many of you are still struggling under the burden of an unnecessary and unsustainable workload.

We want to work with you, and the whole of the teaching profession, to see what we can do to reduce this burden – to offer you a new deal. As a result of our programme of talks with teacher unions, we are already addressing the misconceptions that have previously added to teachers’ workload. Last week’s publication by Ofsted comes out of this work, helpfully dispelling myths about the requirements of inspection.

We’re calling on you, and all your colleagues, to have your say on how to reduce unsustainable workload. It’s called the Workload Challenge. Before the end of November, we want you to tell us what the problems are and what could be done to solve them. Once you have shared your views and experiences, we will take action. And the more specific you can be, the more we can achieve real results for you.

Here’s how to take part: • Send us your solutions and strategies for tackling workload – we want to hear about the good practice already in schools. • Tell us about the unnecessary tasks that take you away from teaching, and where these come from. • Let us know what you think should be done to tackle unnecessary workload – by government, by schools, or by others. We now need your help to tackle this problem so that teachers can focus on what matters most – planning and teaching great lessons for children.

To take part in the Workload Challenge, fill in this survey or email us. More information is available at http://www.tes.co.uk/dfe.

 Fiona Cunningham appointed as Sistema England’s managing director.

4 November 2014

Sistema England is delighted to announce the appointment of Fiona Cunningham as the charity’s managing director. Fiona will lead on the charity’s strategic remit and activity, as it enters a new phase of development.

Julian Lloyd Webber, founder and chairman of Sistema England, said: ‘Fiona is joining us to help us achieve our ambitions for the future, in the service of children, their communities and the Sistema-inspired programmes that support them across England’.

Fiona was most recently In Harmony manager at Opera North for the programme’s first year of delivery, and before that Voicelab manager at Southbank Centre. She holds a directorship for arts.works, an arts-based leadership training company she founded and directed with music educator Suzi Digby, and she has secondary Qualified Teacher Status in English and Drama, as a member of the initial cohort of Teach First in the programme’s first year.

‘I am proud to join Sistema England,’ said Fiona, ‘ and to continue to play a part in the national Sistema movement, which is empowering thousands of children through joyful and excellent music-making to inspire others with their skills, passions and hard work.  My thanks to Julian Lloyd Webber and the trustees for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’.

Sistema England is a charity that promotes the work of ambitious social action programmes in England, inspired by the international El Sistema movement to transform the lives of children and their communities. These programmes currently include The Nucleo Project, Sistema in Norwich and the six In Harmony programmes funded jointly by the Department for Education and Arts Council England – Lambeth, Liverpool, NewcastleGateshead, Nottingham, Opera North (Leeds) and Telford & Stoke-on-Trent. All six programmes use music to bring positive change to the lives of children and their communities across England.

Sistema England looks forward to working closely with Arts Council England, the Department for Education and other key strategic bodies, to ensure this important work has a wide-reaching and long-lasting impact for children and young people in England.

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