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Latest News

Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival 

15 December 2014

Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival returns for two weeks over half term with a wide-ranging programme to stimulate creativity. Over half of the 2015 programme will be free of charge, offering all families and schools access to literature, music, theatre, poetry, dance, interactive installations and workshops. 

Highlights include: 

·         A presentation by Russell Brand and Chris Riddell, about their children’s book The Pied Piper of Hamelin  ·         The London premiere of Brundibár, a renowned children's opera by Hans Krása, performed by Mahogany Opera Group  
·         A free family concert, with the Young Orchestra for London, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle  
·         A rare concert featuring the 12 Cellists of the Berliner Philharmoniker  
·         Southbank Sinfonia with Music and the Deaf offering a truly immersive and tactile experience for both hearing and deaf children 
·         Back by popular demand, The Big Sleepover on the iconic Royal Festival Hall stage  
·         Interactive performance pieces  
·         A new early years soft play village and a programme for babies and under-threes 
·          Readings and events with award-winning children’s authors and illustrators  
·         A new Southbank Centre commission by Hip Hop spoken word artist Maxwell Golden  
·         Immersive opera, theatre and site-wide installations to celebrate Alice In Wonderland’s 150th anniversary 

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, said:We believe that by giving young people the chance to shape the culture they grow up with, and share their ideas with their friends, schools and families, their creativity will be given a platform that can influence all of us’.  

Guardian Children’s Books will be giving children the chance to interview authors, upload podcasts and guest edit the site, extending the reach of the festival beyond London and Southbank Centre.  

For ticket or price information contact: Southbank Centre Ticket Office –

Southbank Centre, Monday 9 – Sunday 22 February 2015 

RNCM sets up bursary in memory of Jane Anthony

12 December 2014

Jane Anthony, Founder Director of Leeds Lieder+ died on Thursday 8 November 2014 after a short illness.  Jane was born and brought up in Headingley, Leeds. She left to study singing at the Royal Academy of Music, London and the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester (RNCM) before returning home to Leeds to sing and teach. 

For many years she was a busy and successful professional soprano, appearing in opera, oratorio and recitals, and  frequently as a member of the chorus of Opera North. Jane was also a senior lecturer at Leeds College of Music, where she was a gifted and much-loved singing teacher, coach and opera director. Jane founded Leeds Lieder+ in 2004, and saw the biennial festival enjoy its fifth successful year in 2013. 

David Hoult, chairman of Leeds Lieder+ said: ‘Jane will be sorely missed for her energy and drive which brought the idea of a Lieder Festival in Leeds to fruition, and has seen it blossom into a major event in the musical life of the city and beyond ... Our thoughts are with her family and friends to whom we offer sincere condolences’. Jane was also artistic director and founder of Young Opera Venture (YOV). She firmly believed that everyone has the right to experience great art and that the effect can be inspirational and life changing. YOV supports young singers and makes opera accessible to audiences across the north of England. 

Dame Felicity Lott, honorary patron of Young Opera Venture and closely associated with Leeds Lieder Festival, remembers Jane as ‘an inspirational lady, full of ideas about how to communicate her love of music and her enthusiasm for song and opera’. The founding principles of Jane’s work with both Leeds Lieder+ and YOV remain at the heart of everything both companies strive to achieve. Their continued success will be Jane’s legacy. 

A bursary has been set up in Jane’s name to assist a young singer in his/her course at the RNCM.  


11 December 2014

The new posts will complement the RSCM’s existing services and training for singers, choir directors and church organists. The educational charity is also re-organising the management of its volunteers in England.

In partnership with Praxis, the liturgical resources group, the new Head of Ministerial Training will devise and lead new training programmes for ministers. “Those who train ordinands and lay worship leaders have, in recent years, found it increasingly difficult to shoe- horn the study of liturgy and music into their packed timetables,” says Rosemary Field, the RSCM’s Head of Education. “It leaves a potential gap in the knowledge, understanding and skills of many curates, lay readers and lay assistants. This is a gap which the RSCM is attempting to close.” Already the RSCM has started to address the need with a new course called “Strengthen for Service” which has been well-received by those who have participated in it.

The needs of churches with congregational and instrumental traditions are also being addressed with a part-time Head of Congregational and Instrumental Music. The successful candidate will devise and deliver training programmes and courses, including provision for churches will little or no musical resources. This includes the RSCM’s current new course for such churches – “Lift up your voice”. These two appointments are the first of a series of specialist appointments which will also include the disciplines of organ and choral training.

Two part-time Regional Co-ordinators are also being sought in England, following on from a four-year period of mixed-portfolio work by a team of Regional Music Advisers. These posts, which are similar to the provision in Wales, Scotland and Ireland, will provide management and support for the hundreds of volunteers throughout England who devise and run a wide range of events, workshops and training for RSCM awards.

“Back in 1927, our founder Sir Sydney Nicholson identified two principal needs for flourishing church music; not only strong music leaders but also clergy and ministers who understood the value of music in worship, and how to enable it in others,” said Rosemary Field. “We already provide a range of support for musicians; we’re now seeking to redress the balance as far as congregations and ministers are concerned.” More information about the vacancies including job descriptions and how to apply may be found on the RSCM’s website at 

Government 'lets children down' in music 

10 December 2014

Leading figures in the music industry say the Government has broken its promise to give every child in Britain the opportunity to learn a musical instrument.  

Julian Lloyd Webber, Sting, Alison Balsom and the heads of the Royal College of Music and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are among the signatories to a letter to the  Telegraph demanding that all children have the chance of learning to play an instrument. They want Ofsted rules to be changed so that a school cannot be rated 'good' or 'outstanding' unless it offers good or outstanding music provision.   

The Government unveiled its National Plan for Music in 2011, claiming it would ‘enable every child to have the chance to learn to play a musical instrument for at least a term, ideally a year’.  

However, the funding model has become a postcode lottery, and access to instruments is ‘simply out of reach’ for a great number of children, according to James Rhodes, concert pianist and lead signatory to the letter published in the Telegraph on 23rd November.  

Mr. Rhodes visited schools for a recent Channel 4 series, Don't Stop The Music, and found children using dustbin lids and yoghurt pots in place of real instruments. He said headteachers feel under pressure to meet targets for English and maths, and music lessons often become the lowest priority  

‘I don't think anyone would say music doesn't deserve to be studied. But if you are a headteacher in a school where you know you will live or die by ticking Ofsted boxes on literacy and numeracy, that is all you're going to focus on’.  

‘We have not moved on from the idea that music is a privilege and a luxury if you have the time and the budget. But learning to play an instrument gives you self-esteem, discipline, confidence. In what other field ... when there's an app for everything, and everything is instant, do you have  the chance for slow, incremental, messy improvement?’.  

Julian Lloyd Webber initially lent his name to the National Plan for Music but said it had failed to deliver.  ‘The biggest frustration of all to me is the idea that it's an 'either/or' situation. It's not a case of, 'If my child learns to play the cello they are not going to learn their maths as well'. In fact, it's the reverse. Having access to music is a help, not a hindrance. It takes discipline to learn an instrument - it is a complex thing to do.’  T

he Department of Education declined to supply any information on how many schools have met its 2011 target. 

Music hub and Arts Council host minister’s visit

9 December 2014

Arts Council and the North East London music education hub recently hosted a visit from Nick Gibb, Minister of State at the Department for Education (DfE). The visit took place at Redbridge Primary School where he, and colleagues from the  (DfE) observed a Year 4 Whole Class Ensemble Teaching (WCET) beginner recorder class and a Year 6 WCET flute continuation class. 

After touring the school and talking to teaching staff and pupils, the minister was accompanied to the John Savage Centre in Hainault where he met staff and instrument repair technicians from the Instrument Centre, and observed a kindergarten class with toddlers, parents and carers. Mr Gibb was receptive and enthusiastic throughout, and seemed particularly impressed with the quality of music education on offer, and the schools’ commitment to the arts. He was also impressed with approaches to raising attainment in reading and maths, with the expertise within the hub itself, and with the hub’s valuable supportive role across two outer London boroughs. 

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