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Royal Welsh College’s Project to Commemorate WW1

4 November 2014

Royal Welsh College’s Project to Commemorate WW1

St David’s Hall

Sunday 9 November 3pm

I sing of war, and the pity of war

As part of its Commemorative Season, and its most ambitious project to date, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama is performing one of the most iconic pieces of the 20th century, Britten’s War Requiem. This definitive masterpiece, exploring man’s inhumanity to man,  will be staged at St David’s Hall on Remembrance Sunday. Conducted by Carlo Rizzi, with a stellar cast including Alwyn Mellor, Adrian Thompson and Simon Keenlyside, the performance also features the College’s entire music cohort.

This performance fulfils a long-standing ambition of conductor Carlo Rizzi: ‘This War Requiem speaks of the relationship between man and God in front of death, but also of the relationship between man and man in war. I first heard it when I was 14 and decided that one day I wanted to conduct it. After performing the Verdi Requiem together in 2012, I wanted the chance to inspire these dedicated young musicians again with my experience and, for myself, to be inspired once more by their talent, enthusiasm and energy.’

The Children’s Chorus come from the choirs of Wells Cathedral School, Radyr’s Ysgol Bryn Deri and The Royal Welsh College’s Junior Conservatoire.


Tickets: £12 (please purchase tickets via St. David's Hall Box Office - 029 2087 8444)

Helen Fraser 1949 - 2014

3 November 2014

 Helen Coll writes:

"In 2001 I was involved in the appointment of Helen Fraser to the post of NAME (National Association of Music Educators) Administrator, one of the most sensible things I ever did. Now, thirteen years later, I am mourning her sudden and tragic death following a cycling accident in France. She will be sadly missed by all those in the world of music education who were lucky enough to work with her.

Helen was born in Aberdeen and after graduating from Aberdeen University held a number of posts in music and arts administration, including ten years as Music Officer with the Scottish Arts Council. 

Helen joined NAME initially as Administrator. When it became a registered charity in 2008 she became Business Manager and this continued until NAME merged with FMS in 2013 to become Music Mark.

In 2001 NAME was a relatively small organisation. Twelve years later, when Helen left, it had grown out of all recognition: in membership, breadth, range, complexity and influence. Chairs of organisations come and go; Helen somehow managed to cope with thirteen different ones, each with their own history, experience, expertise, personality and style. This was done with professionalism, patience, integrity, loyalty, tact, sound judgement and humour – the latter probably much needed from time to time!

NAME’s annual conferences were a fixture in many diaries and became synonymous with Helen’s welcoming smile at the registration desk, her unobtrusive and efficient management of the whole event, not forgetting her tireless energy on the ceilidh floor. In 2003 the late John Paynter had been invited to give a Keynote address and when asked about technical requirements he requested a blackboard – not easily come by in a state-of-the-art conference centre! Undaunted, Helen persuaded her local museum to lend her an old-fashioned blackboard plus easel which John used to great effect in a memorable speech. This epitomised so many of Helen’s qualities: ingenuity, thoroughness, eye for detail, but most of all, her care and empathy for the needs of individuals. I can’t think of many people who would have gone to such lengths.  

Helen was a talented and versatile musician. She played the piano and cello in orchestras and chamber music ensembles, and organised and participated in various informal singing groups throughout her life. Helen was a member of Bakewell Quaker Meeting and a trustee of the Leaveners, a Quaker performing arts organisation.

When we advertised for an administrator in 2001 we were hoping for someone who was efficient, effective and well-organised, with some understanding of the world of music education. We got all those things – and far, far more. When Kathryn Deane of Sound Sense learned of Helen’s death, she said in an email, “Helen was a great knitter of people, supportive, reconciliatory, and clever and rigorous with it”. I don’t think I can improve on that"


There is to be a celebration of Helen’s life on February 14th 2015 in Matlock, Derbyshire. If anyone would like details of this, please email me at

King’s Elylaunches Sixth Form Choral award

31 October 2014

King’s School, Ely have just announced the launch of the Sixth Form Choral award.

The first boy to enjoy this honour is Thomas Bruce, a member of the school since 2006. Thomas Bruce will have access to intensive, specialist musical and academic training, as well as the opportunity to perform with professional singers, organists, and conductors. In addition, Thomas, like his peers in Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir, will gain the experience and expertise needed to progress to a university choral scholarship, or indeed to train as a professional musician.


Thomas’ appointment marks a new era, as the school seeks to give sixth form male students with outstanding musical talent the same opportunities as their female peers. The Principal, Sue Freestone, seen below with Thomas, comments. “I am so pleased that we are able to offer such an exciting opportunity to young men with a passion for choral singing.  It has not felt right that the chance to train for choral scholarships in universities has been the exclusive domain of girls and now the boys are on an equal footing as they prepare for the next stage in their lives.”

Youth Music champions greater equity in supporting young people across England‏

30 October 2014

The National Foundation for Youth Music has just published its Impact Report for the year 2013-14. During this year, the charity awarded 182 grants to 165 music organisations, representing an investment of £9.3m in young people’s music-making.  The Impact Report notes the charity’s success in reaching out to more children in challenging circumstances; it also records a significant increase in the employment of paid music leaders across its funded projects and a more equitable spread of its investment across the regions of England.

The report highlights Youth Music’s achievement in providing opportunities for children and young people whose challenging circumstances might otherwise act as barriers to accessing music-making. Eighty percent of participants in 2013-14 were facing significant challenges in their lives compared to 57% in 2012-13, with Youth Music investing over £6m in music projects specifically focusing on young people from such backgrounds. This follows a refresh of the charity’s mission, vision and values in 2012, placing music-making for children in challenging circumstances at the core of its work.   In 2013-14, rural isolation and special educational needs were the challenges most commonly faced by project participants, along with financial difficulties, English as a second language, substance abuse (either by children themselves, or by their parents or carers), and physical or mental health issues.   In 2013-14, 42% of  Youth Music’s investment went to the 20% most deprived boroughs in the UK, helping to ensure the provision of music-making opportunities for children most in need.

The application of the charity’s regional weighting system to each funding round has secured greater equity across the regions of England, with 83% of the funding being awarded to projects outside the Greater London area in 2013-14.    Matt Griffiths, Youth Music’s Executive Director said: “I’m delighted these figures demonstrate that we're using our investment and resources with even greater pin point accuracy. Our regional balancing system is clearly ensuring geographical fairness across the regions of England, enabling us to reach more children and young people whose challenging circumstances create significant barriers to regular music-making.”

For further information about Youth Music’s Impact Report 2013-14 visit

 Rockschool offer new iPad app for guitarists, bassists and drummers

29 October 2014

Rockschool  have just launched a new iPad app with London based techies, Knowledge Rocks. With the KR player for iPad, musicians will be able to learn, practise and sit their grade exam directly from their iPad. 


The free KR Player for iPad is a practice tool for beginner musicians wanting to get to grips with Rockschool exam pieces; it includes everything they need to work on for their grade exam in one place. The app offers a range of functionality including; tempo and key change, the ability to loop entire sections or specific bars, intuitive scrolling and fully adjustable backing tracks. 


Visit for more info.

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