BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers’ Competition
23 January 2015
The BBC has announced the opening of the BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers’ Competition. Now in its seventeenth year, this annual competition is a cornerstone of the BBC Proms’ ongoing Inspire Scheme, which offers a platform to young composers to develop their skills, share their ideas with like-minded composers and get their music heard. In 2014 Inspire worked with over 550 young musicians, commissioned nine new works and performed and broadcast the music of 17 young composers.
The competition is open to students aged 12 to 18 years. Entries will be judged by a panel of music professionals, including composers Fraser Trainer, Judith Weir, and Anna Meredith. The winning pieces will be performed by professional musicians for the Proms Plus Inspire concert and will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3; the winners will then be commissioned by the BBC for a further work.
The deadline for entries is 21 May
Lesley-Ann Smith joins Kent Music as Head of Teaching and Learning
29 January 2015
Music teacher and double bass player Lesley-Ann Smith has joined Kent Music as its new Head of Teaching and Learning, leading a network of more than 150 instrumental and vocal tutors working with up to 12,000 people a year across Kent and Medway.
Originally from Prestwick in Ayrshire, Lesley-Ann graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree and Post Graduate Diploma in Music Performance from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2007. She has played as a freelance double bassist with professional orchestras across Scotland, including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Scottish Opera. Her early career was spent working as an instrumental instructor with multiple Instrumental Music Services and as a community musician for Artlink Central.
As Education & Projects Officer at Enterprise Music Scotland, Lesley-Ann designed and managed their first music education conference, Music Education Matters, in 2014. There she designed and administered over 90 music education workshops annually across Scotland as well as chamber music projects and training events. She was most recently Team Leader Music Development at West Dunbartonshire Council where she managed the Instrumental Music Service.
Peter Bolton, Chief Executive of Kent Music, said: “Lesley-Ann is a talented musician with wide experience of organising music tuition at all levels and I am delighted to welcome her to Kent as our new Head of Teaching and Learning.”
Government publishes new GCSE, AS and A Level subject content
28 January 2015, Thomas Lydon
The Department for Education has published details of the subject content for the GCSEs, AS Levels and A Levels in music to be taught from autumn 2016. It is anticipated that exam boards will soon publish their own specifications, based on these guidelines.
The headline here is that the much-criticised compulsory 1700 to 1900 area of study at all levels has been widened to the more conventional stylistic boundaries of 1650 and 1910, largely due to the efforts of the ISM's Protect Music Education campaign. The other specification at all levels has also been re-framed, now stating that one other area of study ‘must not be drawn from the Western Classical Tradition’. Otherwise, there are no huge surprises here, with the final content guidelines being based largely on the consultation documents published last July.
Some of the more proscriptive language around the demands on the composition element at all levels has been dropped (no longer must students be able to show that they have achieved their work through one or more of a set list of ‘means’, including experimenting, developing, or critical refinement).
At GCSE, the ‘musical elements’ have been updated to include sequences (listed at A Level in the consultation) chord progressions and simple modulations.
At AS and A Level, we're pleased to report that the ISM’s sub-campaign to save the gerund has been successful, and the terms ‘performance and composition’ from the consultation documents have been re-phrased as ‘performing and composing’, presumably in response to the ISM’s stated preference for stressing the ‘musical processes’ rather than the ‘end products of study’. Elsewhere, in the ‘musical elements’ section, all reference to identifying sonorities of different instrumental groupings has been removed, and there is some genuinely interesting new wording in the 'musical context' section. Lastly of note, in the ‘appraise’ section, the requirement to be able to make critical judgement about your own work has been removed.
The GCSE content can be found here.
The AS and A Level content can be found here.
New Chairmen for EU Youth Orchestra
22 January 2015
The European Union Youth Orchestra is in a period of considerable change and development, in fulfilling the objectives of ‘Towards 2020’, its international cooperation project co-funded by the European Union’s Creative Europe programme. It is in this context that the well known arts advocates ,Sir John Tusa and Ian Stoutzker, CBE, have joined the Trustees as Co-Chairmen with immediate effect.
Obituary: Michael Kennedy, 19 February 1926 ‒ 31 December 2014
21 January 2015
The death of Michael Kennedy at the age of 88 removes perhaps the key remaining source of reminiscence of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Their close friendship meant the former’s biography of the composer carried a special authority, although (as Kennedy reminded me just before Christmas), ‘VW’ was frustratingly tight-lipped about his own music.
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