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Former Royal Academy of Music director jailed for £230,000 fraud

30 May 2012

Royal Academy of Music: former finance director jailed
Royal Academy of Music: former finance director jailed

Janet Whitehouse, the former director of finance at the Royal Academy of Music who earlier this month pleaded guilty to charges of having defrauded the RAM of more than £230,000, was today sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court.

Whitehouse resigned from the RAM in March 2011 after members of Academy staff became suspicious of invoices submitted by Stephen Newell, then head of information at the institution. Newell is yet to face trial over related charges, but the invoices he submitted were to be paid to Whitely Associates – a company of which Janet Whitehouse was a director – for work which a Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said ‘was entirely invented’.

Whitehouse also fabricated paperwork in the name of the Academy’s former principal, Curtis Price, purporting to authorise increases to her pension fund totalling £100,000, and secured rent-free accommodation from the RAM on behalf of her son, which was valued ‘in excess of £30,000’.

She repaid a total of £319,465.05 following her resignation.

Andrew Penhale, deputy head of the CPS Central Fraud Group, said the CPS was ‘pleased to have brought the case to a swift conclusion’.

At court proceedings on 2 May, Stephen Newell gave no indication of a plea and his next court appearance is due to take place on 13 June.

Arts Council announces four new In Harmony projects

28 May 2012

Arts Council England is to launch four new In Harmony projects, which will be monitored to ensure they provide evidence of their social impact and sustainability.

In Harmony, an England-wide programme based on Venezuela's El Sistema, aims to inspire and transform the lives of children in deprived communities using the power and disciplines of community-based orchestral music-making.

The new projects will run from 2012 to 2015. The decision to commission them follows the National Plan for Music's recommendation to continue and expand the existing In Harmony projects. The new projects will build on the experiences and achievements of the three In Harmony projects in Lambeth, Liverpool and Norwich, and will follow a common set of core principles, which include: providing total immersion in orchestral music-making several times a week from an early age, open to all children in the school or community where the projects are working; providing teaching of exceptionally high quality; ensuring musical progression is embedded from the start; and encouraging children to help each other learn.

The Department for Education and Arts Council England will jointly fund the programme, with the Arts Council taking a central coordinating and development role. Alan Davey, chief executive of the Arts Council England, said: 'The past year has seen the Arts Council make some really significant interventions to give young people the chance to explore and experience the arts.'

Applications for the In Harmony grants are open now and will close on 25 June 2012.


ISM announces new hub leadership training

25 May 2012

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has announced a new training day, designed to help with the running of the government's new music education hubs. Entitled Planning for Success with Music Education Hubs, it will take place on 26 June, and will bring together a range of experts. These will include Richard Hallam MBE, president elect of the ISM, who has worked as a teacher, advisor and inspector, head of music service and government advisor; Carolyn Baxendale, head of Bolton Music Service; John Cammack, freelance adviser, trainer and writer in management and financial management; and Pat Abraham, arts manager and policy consultant.

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the ISM, said: 'September 2012 will see the launch of the 122 new music education hubs and this ISM training day aims to support hub leaders as they put together their business plans and make key decisions which will impact on their hubs and music education over the years to come.'
The course is designed for people working at a senior level within hubs and aims to help them to develop and implement effective business plans. It costs £100 plus VAT and includes one year of bronze corporate level membership of the ISM.

Venue: The Abbey Centre, The Garrett Anderson Room, 34 Great Smith Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3BU.


MU calls for a reversal of £61,000 cut to West Dunbartonshire Music Service

25 May 2012

The Musicians’ Union (MU) has called on West Dunbartonshire Council to reverse the decision to cut £61,000 from its music service budget this financial year.

The reduction in funding was announced in December 2011 and will mean a 15% cut in instrumental music staff. The MU has expressed a concern that this will increasingly lead to a situation where only those who can afford private tuition are able to learn an instrument.

Sheena Macdonald, MU Organiser for Scotland said: 'The music service is already trying to cover a large area and number of schools with minimal staff. We have been informed by instructors that they already cannot meet the demand of pupils who would like to learn to sing or play an instrument.'

Graeme Clark of the band Wet Wet Wet added: 'I grew up in West Dunbartonshire and I believe that music should be inclusive, not exclusive - so I can't agree that music education should be cut back to the point where only the privileged and wealthy can afford it.

'Music has the power to break down barriers, and everyone can play a part – no matter where they come from. I cannot stress enough how important it was for me to find a way of expressing myself in my school days. Music enabled me to do that.'

Over 500 local people have signed a petition supporting the MU’s position, which can be found at:

Young composers triumph at NCEM Composers Awards

25 May 2012

Winners of the NCEM Composers Award 2012: Alex Woolf (left) and Benjamin Rowarth (right)
Winners of the NCEM Composers Award 2012: Alex Woolf (left) and Benjamin Rowarth (right)NCEM/Eddie Rolmanis

The two young winners of this year’s National Centre for Early Music Composers Awards have been praised for the imagination shown in their entries. Delma Tomlin, director of the National Centre for Early Music, said the judges had been 'absolutely thrilled, with not only the standard of entries, but the range and diversity of ideas around the given theme.'

The awards, presented in partnership with BBC Radio 3 and The Tallis Scholars, were won by Alex Woolf (16) in the under-18 category and by Benjamin Rowarth (20) in the 19-to-25 category.

Entrants were invited to compose an a cappella piece for soprano, alto, tenor and bass which 'utilises the majestic ambiance of Durham Cathedral and the remarkable singing skills of The Tallis Scholars'. As a starting point, they were asked to listen to the Benedictus from Taverner’s Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas, and in particular the In Nomine, which was to be used as a creative springboard for their work.

Woolf’s Lux Aeterna and Rowarth’s Where is Thy God? were premiered by The Tallis Scholars in Durham Cathedral as part of its Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. The performance will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show on 1 July. Woolf lives in Cambridge and is a composer with the National Youth Orchestra, and Rowarth, 20, is a student at Durham.

Peter Phillips, director of The Tallis Scholars, said, 'With The Tallis Scholars, I have created an instrument which has a very distinctive sound. I can’t think of anything more useful than to put this highly trained instrument at the disposal of these inspiring young composers and am hugely appreciative that they have written so well for us. I find it thrilling to perform works by a 16-year-old and a 20-year-old and really hope this award will encourage them to develop their styles and write for many different kinds of ensembles.'

All seven finalists heard their entries performed in workshops, with the Ebor Singers and Christopher Fox, composer and professor of music, Brunel University, London, before a public concert, which included judges Chris Wines, from BBC Radio 3, Peter Phillips and Delma Tomlin.

The finalists’ compositions were recorded by music technology students from the Department of Electronics at the University of York and will be soon available to hear on the NCEM website.


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