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Latest News

Virtuosos' Grade 1 Challenge

2 June 2014

Seven players from the Northern Sinfonia are undertaking a sponsored ‘Grade 1-athon’ to raise money for Sage Gateshead’s tenth birthday appeal.

The musicians were presented with their new instruments at the start of May. They have until December to get to grips with their instrument, when they will each take part in a public examination at Sage Gateshead.

Orchestra leader and principal violin, Bradley Creswick, is wrestling with a bassoon. Other Royal Northern Sinfonia members tackling the Grade-1-athon include violinists Jenny Chang, Jane Nossek, Kyra Humphreys and Iona Brown who will attempt to master the french horn, flute, oboe and clarinet respectively, flautist Eilidh Gillespie who will learn viola and oboist Steve Hudson who is taking up the cello.

Members of the public are invited to stand alongside the Northern Sinfonia members by collecting sponsorship to learn a new instrument of their own, and sharing the challenge of working to achieve Grade 1 in a few months’ time!

Another tenth birthday appeal event will be ‘24Hours of Folk’ which takes place at 10am on 7 June and runs through to 10am on 8 June. This world-record breaking attempt will see popular folk artists uniting under the banner of Folkworks to deliver an amazing round the clock feast of traditional music, song, dance and stories. Keen musicians are invited to gather sponsorship and take part. If you don’t play but would like to support the record attempt you can attend over the day of the attempt, donate or just spread the word.

Queenswood pupils scoop songwriting prize

27 May 2014

The Amnesty International songwriter competition, part of the annual Amnesty Youth Awards, saw a group of students from Queenswood School win top prize in the Upper Primary / Lower Secondary category.

Leah Grant, Annabel Brin and Eleanor Burrows received their award at a special ceremony in central London last month. Eleanor commented: said: ‘It’s unbelievable to have won and we never expected to get this far in the competition. We were convinced we weren’t going to win because all the finalists were so great. Our piece was about the sensitive issue of homophobia which has been a huge issue this year, from the Uganda anti-gay laws to same-sex marriage in the UK.’

BBC Targets Primary Schools

23 May 2014

A new BBC initiative is to be launched over the next academic year in primary schools across the country. BBC Learning and the BBC performing groups aim to introduce a generation of children to a range of classical music through ten different works.

Following the project’s launch on 6 October there will be a week of free nationwide cinema screenings for schools of a film introducing the ten pieces, which have been specially selected for their ‘potential to inspire creativity’. The BBC is providing resources so that for several weeks after launch, children can create their own responses to the music though composition, dance and art.

The BBC will be working with music services and hubs across the UK. These organisations will run workshops and activities with schools to help children to develop their creative responses. The project will culminate with a celebration of the children’s work in July 2015.

Schools can sign up to take part in this project via the Ten Pieces website. The ten pieces of classical music will be announced this summer. 

Jobs at risk in Isle of Wight and Cornwall

23 May 2014

Local government cost-cutting measures are leading to threatened redundancies in music services in both the Isle of Wight and Cornwall.

Recent comments by Isle of Wight councillor Steve Priest to the effect that he would be ‘looking for musicians in the area to teach our children as volunteers’, at a time when nearly 100 teaching jobs were under threat, led to widespread outrage, culminating in a rally and open air concert on 26 April. The MU, which has been an active voice in opposition to cuts in the area, has since reported that there is better news, claiming that ‘Councillors who had previously considered forcing music teachers into self-employment recognised the pitfalls this approach would have created.’ However, there is still no concrete proposal from the council on how it will proceed on reduced funding.

In Cornwall, the 70 teachers employed by the Music Tuition Service are to lose their jobs. The Music Tuition Service – one of three strands of the wider music service, alongside the music hub and the music therapy service – has overspent by £450,000 over the past two years. A ‘brokerage’ model has been put forward by Cornwall council, in which music teachers would no longer be directly employed, but would operate from a pool administered by the council. Various unions have questioned the council’s conduct in the matter, and we will be reporting fully on the status of these disputes in our July issue.



What's next for Music Mark?

23 May 2014

Following its first full year of operation, the board of trustees of the UK Association for Music Education (Music Mark) has completed an organisational review.

Amongst its new targets are plans to increase the number of music service members; to develop more pro-active advocacy with government and opposition members, and their departments; and to prioritise its support for music service members (including their roles within hubs) and with members who work with schools.

The board of trustees also remodelled the role of Jem Shuttleworth, currently acting CEO, as the new general manager of Music Mark, effective from the beginning of last month.

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