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Apply now for Yamaha Brass and Woodwind Scholarships

7 July 2014

Music students under the age of 25 who are from the UK and Republic of Ireland are invited to apply now for Yamaha’s annual European Scholarship awards programme.

Now in its 25th year, the scheme now operates in 31 European countries and has provided over 850 scholarships to deserving candidates. The rewarded discipline is rotated annually, with full-time brass and woodwind students applying this year. Three scholarships, each of €2000, will be awarded in the UK, with a further €2000 scholarship in Ireland.

The deadline for applications is 30 November 2014, with preliminary rounds taking place in early December. Those interested in applying must submit a recording of two contrasting pieces of music totalling less than 30 minutes’ duration.

Previous Yamaha scholars include saxophonist Amy Dickson, pianists Eduard Kunz and Sasha Grynyuk, and euphonium player David Childs.

To download an application form, click here.

BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers Competition: winners announced 

4 July 2014

Six talented young composers have been announced as winners of the BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers’ Competition 2014. The winners, who are aged between 12-18, will have their music performed by the Aurora Orchestra at the BBC Proms this summer (20 August), with a broadcast on BBC Radio 3 (25 August) and a BBC commission. 

The entries were judged by a panel comprising composers Stuart MacRae, Anna Meredith, Martin Suckling, Judith Weir CBE, and Radio 3 Editor Jeremy Evans. Chaired by Fraser Trainer, the judges were on the lookout for pieces that were original, unique and inspiring.    

The winners of the junior category (12-16 years) are Harry Castle’s La Trahison des Images, Rob Durnin’s A Study in Anarchy and Matthew Jackson’s Mirror Mirror. The senior category (17-18 years) was won by Nathaniel Coxon’s Two Cells, Anna Disley-Simpson’s Underneath and Harry Johnstone’s Dis-Pulsed. There were also five highly commended entrants at each level.    

Now in its sixteenth year, this was the third year that the competition offered an opportunity for teachers to take part in the scheme. While aspiring young composers were participating in their Composer Labs across the country, a special Teacher’s Lab was set up in Newham, East London, where players from the BBC Concert Orchestra led workshops on how to broaden compositional teaching skills.   

Young composers keen to get involved in workshops this summer will be able to take part in the Inspire Day workshops during this summer’s BBC Proms. Fraser Trainer will lead a contemporary composition workshop on Sunday 10 August, with Mike Roberts running a session about electro-acoustic composition on 14 August. Jules Buckley will teach a session about arranging on 20 August, and Judith Weir will take a workshop on writing for solo instruments on Saturday 30 August.  

Out now: new Trinity piano syllabus

3 July 2014

Music exam board Trinity College London (TCL) has released its new piano syllabus for 2015-2017, which is available to download from the TCL website. Supporting piano publications, including new graded repertoire books, are also available online and from music retailers.

The new piano syllabus contains a fully refreshed repertoire list, as well new technical works. Well-known classical pieces have been joined by original compositions by composers from all over the world, who were invited by Trinity to submit pieces for consideration.

New syllabuses for woodwind, jazz woodwind, guitar strings, singing and brass will be released by Trinity later this month. From September a new Electronic Keyboard & Organ syllabus will also be available.

Chris Walters, TCL’s head of qualifications for Music, commented: ‘Our graded music exams are strongly performance based and examine real musical skills specific to each instrument or voice. The wide choice of authentic repertoire found in each of our new syllabuses allows candidates to find pieces that reflect their own musical identity, and they are able to further express their individuality through options including improvising and performing original compositions. We’ve structured our exams so that they assess the whole musician – evaluating creativity, emotional response, critical listening and performing – and we provide precise and specific feedback through a diagnostic mark scheme, to encourage continued learning and development.’

A one year overlap arrangement is in place, so candidates may perform repertoire and technical work from current syllabuses until the end of 2015.

ACE Announces Investment Plans for 2015-2018

2 July 2014

The Arts Council England (ACE) has announced its funding and investment plans for the next three years.

The ACE’s new national portfolio covers a total of 670 arts organisations, down from 696. While 58 organisations will lose funding altogether, 46 new entrants to the portfolio will receive financial support over the next few years.

One of these new entrants is the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO), which will benefit from £125,000 of funding a year for the next three years. Executive chairman of NYJO Nigel Tully welcomed the ‘fantastic news’, commenting: ‘This is crucial recognition of NYJO’s development over the recent years and its increasing artistic and educational profile. NYJO will now work enthusiastically on increasing our activity and implementing our plans – to be an evangelist for jazz and to have a greater role in the musical and cultural life of the nation.’

For the most part, organisations supported by the ACE in previous years will receive standstill funding. Performing groups in this category include the LSO, Hallé, CBSO, London Sinfionietta, BCMG, BSO, LPO, Philharmonia, OAE, Sinfonia Viva, and Manchester Camerata, as well as organisations such as Music in the Round, the National Opera Studio, British Youth Opera, classical producer SoundUK, the Tête à Tête opera festival, Streetwise Opera, and Wiltshire Music Centre.

Organisations that will see a drop in their funding include the National Centre for Early Music, the Southbank Centre and Orchestras Live. Particularly hard-hit organisations are the Barbican Centre, which will be hit by a decrease of 20%, and the English National Opera, which will suffer cuts of roughly one third.

Those benefitting from an increase in funding include the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Spitalfields Music, and the Aurora Orchestra.

ACE chief executive Alan Daley wrote yesterday: ‘Choices become particularly hard when your starting point is an existing portfolio that was carefully selected in the first place, and which contains so much outstanding quality.The Arts Council’s Grant-in-Aid budget has been cut by 36 per cent in real terms since 2010. We’ve had some mitigation from the Lottery ‒ and thank goodness for that ‒ with an increased share granted by the Government. But this has been countered by the blow of local government cuts outside London. These have and will challenge the whole funding model for culture, which depends on a real local-national partnership for its effectiveness. We have tried to ensure some degree of stability ‒ and we’ll need to work with our funding partners see what more we can do.’

James Rhodes leads instrument donation appeal

1 July 2014

Primary schools in the UK have until 11 July to sign up for free musical instruments as part of James Rhodes’ ‘Great Instrument Amnesty’.

The concert pianist’s ambitious plan is to encourage the public to donate unused instruments that might be ‘languishing in cupboards and attics’ to the cause. These instruments will then be distributed to schools via the dedicated registration website. James wants to involve state primary schools in every county and schools will be selected based on need, as well as their commitment to making their music education sustainable.

The motivation behind this campaign is James’s belief that too many children are missing out on the opportunity to learn and instrument and progress on it, due to instruments and lessons being an unaffordable luxury. ‘Music has become something of a lottery for children - excellent in some schools and simply inadequate in others,’ says James. He wants to ensure that children are able to learn an instrument at the age when it matters most.

Oxfam will be collaborating with James Rhodes for this project, which is linked to a three-part series due to air on Channel 4 later this month. These programmes will follow James as he pilots his amnesty at a primary school in Basildon, Essex, before preparing to roll it out nationwide.

Those interested in pledging an instrument can drop it off at any Oxfam shop.

Schools benefitting from the amnesty will be invited to take to the stage at Oxjam, the charity’s music festival, which helps raise money to fight poverty around the world. Participating schools will also receive an education pack from Oxfam, featuring guides and lesson plans.

To watch James’ video appeal and to register your school, visit the project's website.

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