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Essex pianist wins BBC Young Musician

19 May 2014, Melanie Spanswick

17-year-old Martin James Bartlett, from Essex, has been named BBC Young Musician 2014. The final took place on Sunday 18 May at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh. 

It was broadcast on BBC Four, presented by Clemency Burton-Hill with Alison Balsom, Miloš Karadaglić, and special guest Nicola Benedetti.
Bartlett and his fellow finalists – percussionist Elliott Gaston-Ross (15) and recorder-player Sophie Westbrooke (15) – performed with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Kirill Karabits and were judged by a panel including composer James MacMillan, conductor Alice Farnham, pianist Alice Sara Ott, percussionist Colin Currie and recorder-player Michala Petri. 
Being in the room, the final of the competition felt more akin to a concert. Elliott Gaston-Ross started proceedings with an explosion of tonal colour and drama. He chose to play African Sunrise/Manhattan Rave by David Heath. A heady mixture of styles, timbres and textures, this work employs a huge range of instruments, demonstrating Elliott's natural rhythmic flair and flamboyance. The next young performer was recorder player Sophie Westbrooke (also 15) who shone with a breath taking account of Gordon Jacob's Suite for Recorder and Strings, arranged for Chamber Orchestra by David Knotts. Her performance was full of colour, a rich tone and nimble fingerwork. 
The last performer of the final was Bartlett. He presented Rachmaninov's virtuoso Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, which he played effortlessly with a musicianship and maturity well beyond his 17 years. The atmosphere in the hall was electric as the winner was announced; all three performers were clearly worthy of the prize. 
Bartlett studies at the Royal College of Music Junior Department with Emily Jeffrey. He will be continuing his studies at the RCM senior department in September on a coveted Foundation Scholarship. 

Sellout for first ever London Music Awards

19 May 2014

Mayor of London Boris Johnson will be hosting the inaugural London Music Awards at the Roundhouse on Wed 11 June.

The event, which is close to being a sell-out, is being staged in celebration of London’s aspiring young musicians and their achievements. Soul II Soul are set to perform on the night, alongside emerging artists such as Brit school musician Natalie Shay, singer-songwriter Kimberley Anne and Croydon based hip-hop trio Hawk House, who will be presenting their new video. Classic FM DJ Margherita Taylor will be overseeing events.

The London Music Awards will also be an opportunity to fundraise for the Mayor’s Music Fund, a charity that supports the musical development of talented children across London’s 32 boroughs. In two years the fund has already provided grants worth £1.3m which have reached over 14,000 young musicians.

Tables at the event are being hosted by major players in the music industry, including Sony, Universal, Warner, Live Nation, UK Music and AEG. An auction on the night, led by Channel 4’s Jon Snow, will raise further funds.

Mayor’s Music Fund Chief Executive Ginny Greenwood says: ‘The fund is already helping thousands of talented youngsters develop their musical abilities and this is our way of celebrating a major asset for London – its musical heritage and its musical future. Six months ago the London Music Awards was just a dream.  Now it’s a reality. This couldn’t have happened without our sponsor Raymond Weil, our other supporters and the music industry embracing the idea and running with it. A big thank you to everyone involved in the evening.’

A total of nine awards are being handed out at what will become an annual event. There will be six music awards: 

1.      Outstanding Mayor’s Music Scholars 
2.      Outstanding Musical Collaboration 
3.      Undiscovered Talent
4.      Rising Star 
5.      Young Composer/songwriter 
6.      London Legend presented by Time Out 

There will also be three non-performance awards:

1.      London’s favourite music venue (Time Out reader vote)
2.      Music Philanthropist 
3.      Special award for an individual who has made a significant contribution to music in the capital 

 

Guildhall Gold for Michael Petrov

16 May 2014

The Guildhall School of Music & Drama has awarded this year’s Gold Medal to Bulgarian cellist Michael Petrov. The award is the school’s most prestigious prize for outstanding soloists. 

Michael commented: ‘I am ecstatic to have won the Gold Medal. It certainly wasn’t easy; the others gave me a run for my money! I’d like to thank the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra, Dominic Wheeler and especially my teacher Louise Hopkins.’ 

Three Gold Medal finalists competed for the prize.  Violinist Rosie Hsien, from Taiwan, and clarinettist Max Mausen, from Luzembourg, joined Michael Petrov in the Barbican for a night of concerto performances. The panel of judges included renowned violinists and previous Gold Medal winner Tasmin Little; Ivan Hewitt, chief music critic at the Daily Telegraph; Dominic Wheeler, conductor of the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra and Jonathan Vaughan, director of music at Guildhall School. 

‘Our three soloists all played with the certainty of seasoned veterans but the exuberance of youth, producing three exquisite performances,’ commented chair of the jury Jonathan Vaughan. ‘Many congratulations to Michael, Max and Rose!’

'Friday Afternoons' returns!

15 May 2014

Yesterday saw the launch of this year’s ‘Friday Afternoons’ project, following the enormous success of last year’s initiative to mark the centenary of Benjamin Britten.

Aldeburgh Music has announced that Friday 28 November 2014 will see the culmination of this year’s scheme. Last year over 67,000 young people joined together in song across 12 time zones and four different continents. This year nine composers have been commissioned to produce a new Friday Afternoons songbook, and resources are now available on the Friday Afternoons website.

To find out more about the project and to sign up, click here.

Sign up for 'Ten Pieces' initiative

14 May 2014

An exciting new initiative is to be launched over the next academic year in primary schools across the country. BBC Learning and the BBC Performing Groups are leading the project, which aims to introduce a generation of children to a range of classical music through ten pieces.

Following the project’s launch on 6 October there will be a week of free nationwide cinema screenings for schools of a new cinematic film introducing the ten pieces of classical music. The pieces have been specially selected for their potential to inspire creativity. Following the launch, children will spend several weeks creating their own responses to the music through composition, dance, art or animation.

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. Ten Pieces 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.


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