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Choir of the Year 2014 open for entries

17 January 2014

The sixteenth biennial Choir of the Year competition is open to all amateur choirs across the UK, of any age and of any musical style. Auditions will be held across the country from March to June.   

Any amateur choir consisting of 8-100 singers can take part and registration is now open at Following the Auditions, the top sixteen choirs will go through to the Category Finals at London’s Royal Festival Hall on 19 October and from there, six Grand Finalists will compete for the title Choir of the Year 2014 at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on 7 December, broadcast on BBC Radio and TV. 

Ken Burton, judge for Choir of the Year 2014, and recent judge for BBC’s The Choir: Sing while you Work’ said: ‘The UK has a world-class choral tradition which continues to grow and evolve and it’s fantastic that there has been an explosion of new choirs in recent years. Choir of the Year brings together established choirs and new groups seeking a challenge, and provides a platform to celebrate the wealth and diversity of singing talent in communities across the UK.  

‘The Auditions are a great day of singing for choirs and audiences alike. As judges we aim to give positive and constructive feedback which builds confidence and would encourage any choir to give it a go!’

Yamaha showcases education system in London

17 January 2014

The Yamaha European Junior Original Concert, now in its 7th year in Europe and 43rd year globally, will be held at London’s Shaw Theatre on 8 February.

The event is a showcase for the Yamaha music school system, which has as its founding concept the aim of enabling pupils 'to freely express one's own feelings through music'. The scheme has had considerable worldwide success. Since the opening of the first Yamaha Music School in 1954 in Japan, more than 600,000 students have received lessons from over 20,000 teachers at more than 6,000 different locations around the world.

The London concert will feature 19 young performers between the ages of 6 and 14 from throughout Europe - including 8 from the UK - all of whom will perform their own original compositions.

BBC Proms Composers Competition open for entries

17 January 2014

The sixteenth annual BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers’ Competition is open for entries.   

The competition, which is open to students aged 12 to 18, offers winners the opportunity to reach wide audiences, having their music performed by professional musicians and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Winners also receive a BBC commission.   

Entries are judged by a panel of top composers including Judith Weir, Stuart MacRae and Fraser Trainer, who will be looking for music that is original, unique and inspiring. All entrants are invited to attend Inspire Days, a series of workshops during the BBC Proms 2014 season including workshops, talks, the Young Composers’ Concert at the Royal College of Music and an evening BBC Proms concert. The deadline for entries is 22 May.   

The scheme’s Inspire Composer Labs take place in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast, between February and May 2014. Composer Labs are free and offer young composers the opportunity to work alongside leading composers and professional orchestral musicians. Places can be booked via the Proms website.   

Teachers will also have the opportunity to participate in the scheme by taking part in an Inspire Teachers’ Lab in London on 28 February, run in partnership with the BBC Concert Orchestra and designed to help teachers broaden and explore their compositional teaching skills. For more information and to register interest, email

Institute of Education research links exposure to classical music with enhanced listening skills

13 January 2014

Opportunities to listen extensively to classical music in the early years of primary school are likely to lead to children appreciating a wider range of music in later years, according to a study by Sue Hallam of the Institute of Education (IOE).    

Professor Hallam carried out the research to evaluate the effectiveness of Apollo Music Projects, a music education programme which brings live classical music to children who might not otherwise experience it. The evaluation of the programme showed that children had a positive reaction and had not developed any prejudices against classical music.    

During the course of the project children listened to a range of music including Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Ravel, Shostakovich and Mendelssohn. Hallam’s research found that the process of listening to live classical repertoire enabled children to enhance their listening skills and develop other skills needed for careful listening, including concentration and self-discipline.     

Hallam said: ‘This music programme is unique in focusing on developing children's listening skills through guided exposure to classical music. There is no dumbing down in this programme. It recognises the ability of children to respond to sophisticated ideas and provides them with an opportunity to explore their feelings and use their imagination. Teachers also found an improvement in a range of the children's skills but particularly listening.’    

The programme was originally developed by Apollo Music Projects in partnership with Hackney Music Service. This is the tenth year that it has been delivered in primary schools in Hackney and Tower Hamlets and it is now expanding into neighbouring boroughs.     

Mary Igoe, head teacher of one of the schools involved, said: ‘Working with Apollo Music Projects brings a new dimension to our pupils' appreciation of music. For many of the children it is the first time they have experienced musicians playing classical music before their eyes. There is delight as the sound fills their own classroom and excitement when they attend a public concert. The skills of careful listening and differentiating musical sounds transfer to other areas of the curriculum and improve their ability to concentrate and attend to details.’ 

Big Big Sing launches in Glasgow

13 January 2014

Glasgow is working to put singing centre stage as part of the Commonwealth Games celebrations. Big Big Sing is an initiative of the Glasgow UNESCO City of Music, set to promote singing in the run up to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Events planned so far include Big Big Sing Days, the launch of the Big Big Commonwealth Songbook, and a Schools’ Songwriting Competition.


Events kick off with Big Big Sing Days in Scottish cities, starting with Dundee Caird Hall on 1 February. Further Big Big Sing Days will also take place in Glasgow on 9 February, Edinburgh on 16 February and Aberdeen on 8 March. These events welcome singers of all ages and abilities for a large variety of concerts and workshops. It is hoped that similar events will take place across the whole of the UK between February and June, though nothing was confirmed at time of going to press.   

The musical backbone of the programme is the Big Big Commonwealth Songbook, a series of online resources featuring music from around the Commonwealth. Two songs are on the website already - Corrina Hewat’s newly commissioned One Song and a traditional Samoan song, L’au Lupe. A further nine songs from will be added to the Songbook over the coming months. Songs come with sound files, lyrics and scores, all of which can be downloaded for free.    Big Big Sing is working to promote the songs to choirs throughout the Commonwealth, and they will be heard at singing events including the Big Big BIG Sing in Glasgow on 27 July. This event will bring together thousands of singers and special guests at a location in Glasgow for a mass singing performance.     

Schools have also been invited to participate in the Schools’ Songwriting Competition. Pupils may enter either individually or as a class, and the prize includes having a video of the song made and the chance to perform the song as part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme.  One winning entry will be picked from each of the two categories (Primary School and Secondary School).     

Director of Big Big Sing, Svend Brown said: ‘We firmly believe two things: one is that anyone can sing and the other is that the world is divided into those people who sing and those who do not… yet! Britain is truly blessed in having many amazing organisations and individuals that are passionate and committed about singing – and we want to take the opportunity of the Commonwealth Games year to work with them to champion and boost their work. Everything we do over the coming months we do with the hope that after 2014 many more people will sing regularly than did before, and we want to make it as attractive and easy a thing to do as possible.’        


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