W11 Opera announces new production by John Barber and Hazel Gould
12 August 2015
W11 Opera, the London-based opera company that specialises in productions for young people, has announced a new production by composer John Barber and librettist Hazel Gould.
Eliza and the Swans will be premiered at the POSK Theatre in Hammersmith, London on 12 and 13 December.
The production, which will be performed by a cast of 80 young people, is set to be based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans.
The story follows the fortunes of Eliza and her 11 brothers, who are transformed into swans by a witch queen. Eliza must break the curse by knitting nettle jackets, while remaining mute.
Since it was founded 44 years ago, W11 Opera has given more than 2,000 children the opportunity to appear in 35 new commissions. Patrons include Eve Best and Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
The company has previously commissioned composers including George Fenton, Julian Philips, Phil Porter, Stuart Hancock, Julian Grant and Cecilia MacDowell.
Leeds College of Music celebrates 50th anniversary
11 August 2015
Leeds College of Music is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with a programme of live events.
On 11 October, the college will present a concert from its Alumni Big Band, group of alumni and staff musicians including Nikki Iles, Alan Barnes and Lauren Kinsella.
Later in the season, Marc Almond, who was conferred as a fellow of the conservatoire last year, will return to perform arrangements of his works alongside students.
A prizewinners’ recital in November will see students from across the conservatoire perform selected works with special guests.
Leeds College of Music was founded in 1965 as the Leeds Music Centre and was originally based at the Leeds Institute, which now houses a museum.
Having started life with only 700 students, the college later went on to launch the UK’s first jazz degree in 1993 and the first UK conservatoire pop degree in 2005.
In 2011, Leeds College of Music became the first English conservatoire to hold All-Steinway School status.
The conservatoire is a regional hub for the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, an original member of Conservatoires UK, a partner of the Association of European Conservatoires and a Roland Academy in association with Roland UK.
Fellows include Dame Fanny Waterman, Ronnie Scott, Django Bates, Courtney Pine, while Lesley Garrett, Jeremy Lascelles and Snake Davis count themselves as vice-patrons.
The college also runs a Saturday Music School and various short courses, ranging from classical piano to Logic programming. Almost 50 per cent of degree-level students are supported with bursaries.
Jean-Claude Picard is made associate conductor at RSNO
10 August 2015
Jean-Claude Picard, the young Canadian conductor in charge of the education programmes run by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), has been promoted.
Picard, who was previously assistant conductor with the RSNO on a two-year contract, has been made associate conductor and had his contract extended for a third year.
The orchestra said the change of title reflected his developing relationship with the ensemble and his central involvement in high-profile events over the past two years.
As well leading the RSNO’s learning and engagement activities and Children’s Classic Concerts, Picard has conducted performances at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games cultural celebrations and the Ryder Cup Opening Ceremony.
The extension of his contract will mean he can take part in the RSNO’s 125th anniversary celebrations, which begin in October.
Picard said: ‘Being promoted to the position of associate conductor of the RSNO means a great deal to me.
‘There is the undeniable aspect of being recognised by my fellow colleagues for all of the hard work I have put in over the last two years, but there is something crucial about the aspect of knowing that I will be able to share another year of extraordinary musical and human moments with everyone at the RSNO, especially with my mentors Peter Oundjian and Thomas Søndergård.’
Peter Oundjian, music director of the RSNO, said: ‘I’m delighted that Jean-Claude has accepted the post of associate conductor.
‘What he has so far achieved with the RSNO has been remarkable and far beyond what we had expected of an assistant conductor.
‘It therefore seems only right and proper that we recognise his contribution in this way. I very much look forward to working with him in celebrating the orchestra’s 125th anniversary.’
Lloyd Webber kicks off work on Birmingham Conservatoire's new home
7 August 2015
New study links musical training with accelerated brain development
6 August 2015, Katy Wright
A new study has revealed that musical training helps children to develop fine motor skills and aids their emotional and behavioural maturation.
Researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine analysed the brain scans of 232 healthy children aged between six and 18, looking at brain development in those who played musical instruments. As these children continued their musical training, it accelerated their cortical development in areas involved in coordination, anxiety management and emotional control.
James Hudziak, professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont and director of the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families said: I wanted to look at positive things, what we believe benefits child development. What I was surprised by was the emotional regulatory regions.'
'Everyone in our culture knows if I lift 5-pound, 10-pound, 15-pound weights, my biceps will get bigger. The same is true for the brain. We shouldn't be surprised we can train the brain.'
Since the study's participants were all mentally healthy, Hudziak predicts that the positive effect of music training could be significant for those who are not.
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