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BBC Young Composer premieres piece based on Manchester Colour Wheel

23 January 2012

A unique experiment to test the mood of Manchester using colour and music has culminated in the world premiere of a new work by BBC Young Composer of the Year Jack Sheen.

Performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the five-minute work is the result of a partnership between the NHS and the University of Manchester. More than 20,000 people in the city took part in the experiment, using the Manchester Colour Wheel, which was devised by University of Manchester researchers and is widely used in a clinical setting to measure happiness and wellbeing.

'The composition started from a series of notes which correlated to the most popular colours of the Great Manchester Health Experiment's colour wheel,' Jack, 19, explained. 'Together, they created a collection of six notes which form the basis of the piece. From here, I wanted to explore the various "colours" produced by the different timbres that the orchestra can make, combining them to create a variety of textures which are juxtaposed throughout the work.

'The title, Out of Blue, Gold and Grey, refers to three of the six colours which were most dominant in the research. It was a great opportunity and privilege to work with the players of the BBC Philharmonic and Clark Rundell.'

Professor Peter Whorwell, who devised the Manchester Colour Wheel, will present the preliminary findings of research he has undertaken with pupils from Sale Grammar School and which will be published in a scientific journal shortly.

Professor Ian Jacobs, director of Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC) and dean of the university’s Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, said the experiment aimed 'to encourage public participation in health and wellbeing activities, promote understanding of the importance of health research, and encourage support for population-based clinical trials.'

Dr Linda Magee, OBE, chief operating officer of MAHSC, added: 'This was a fun idea with a serious message. We hope people will better understand the importance of scientific and medical research and that what this partnership is trying to do is to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone within our community and beyond.'

ABRSM appoints Lincoln Abbotts as teaching and learning development director

16 January 2012

Lincoln Abbotts is to move to the ABRSM in a new role of teaching and learning development director. The post replaces the existing role of professional development director, currently held by Richard Crozier, who retires in April after 17 years. The new role encompasses responsibility for ABRSM’s current professional development courses and also has a wider remit, with responsibility for developing a programme of support for teachers.

Abbotts, who has worked as a flute teacher, composer, conductor and workshop leader, is currently chief executive of Music for Youth, the music education charity which provides performance and audience opportunities for young people. He has also worked for the BBC and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

'During the past four years in my role at Music for Youth I have been proud to showcase some of the inspirational work being created by teachers and young musicians across the UK. Today’s music education landscape offers a wealth of opportunity where it is vital for teachers to feel supported and be inspired to further their own professional development.

'I am delighted to be joining ABRSM to help provide this support and inspiration, building on a strong foundation and evolving a new role that will work with and bring together teachers from around the globe. I’ve grown up with ABRSM and know how life changing and motivational instrumental and vocal teachers can be.'

Guy Perricone, ABRSM’s chief executive, said that the creation of the new role recognises the fact that 'teachers are at the heart of ABRSM's activities'. Paying tribute to Richard Crozier, he said his colleague had been 'pivotal in establishing the organisation as one of the principal providers of professional development for instrumental teachers'.

BBC launches search for 2012 Young Composer

10 January 2012

The BBC has launched the search for its 2012 Young Composer. Entrants must be aged from 12 to 18, and winners will receive a BBC Proms performance, a BBC Radio 3 broadcast and a 2013 BBC commission.

Now in its 14th year, the competition is part of the BBC Proms’ Inspire scheme, which aims 'to give the broadest range of young talent in the UK between 12 and 18 years of age the opportunity to explore their musical boundaries, new ways of composing and get a taste of what it means to be a composer in the 21st century'. Judges include composers Fraser Trainer, Stuart MacRae, Anna Meredith, Nico Muhly and Peter Weigold.

For the first time, teachers will also be given the chance to participate by taking part in a special Teacher Lab on 26 March in Buckinghamshire. The session will be led by Fraser Trainer and Stuart MacRae and is designed to help teachers broaden and explore their compositional teaching skills.

For students, Composer Labs take place in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff and for the first time, Northern Ireland. The Labs, which are free, will run on various dates from February to April and will offer young composers the opportunity to work alongside established composers and professional musicians from the BBC’s six professional performing groups.

All entrants will be invited to an Inspire Day on Saturday 4 August 2012. This will provide an opportunity for young composers to meet professional musicians, leading composers and key music industry figures, to participate in creative workshops and attend the Young Composers’ Proms Plus Concert of winning pieces at the Royal College of Music.

Entries must include two identical CD recordings of an original composition along with two copies of either a notated, graphic or tabbed score or a description. Entries should last no longer than five minutes and there are no restrictions on instrumentation, which may include acoustic and/or electronic instruments and computer-generated sounds.

The deadline for entries is 28 May 2012. Entry forms are available from bbc.co.uk/proms, by calling 020 7765 0643 or by emailing promslearning@bbc.co.uk. Last year’s winners will have their BBC commissions performed by the Aurora Orchestra on Tuesday 13 March at LSO St Luke’s, in a concert to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

ABRSM to sponsor NYO Inspire Days

9 January 2012

ABRSM is to sponsor the National Youth Orchestra (NYO)’s Inspire Days, a series of workshops which give young musicians the opportunity to work with NYO members and experience the thrill of performing in an orchestra.

'The NYO brings together 165 teenagers every year who share our passion for music,’ said Guy Perricone, chief executive of ABRSM. 'We want to encourage them to pass on everything they’ve learned to other musicians, ensuring that their incredible passion for music radiates much further. The NYO inspires musicians and audiences up and down the country with events and performances that are not only musically excellent, but innovative and relevant to young people. We are delighted to be able to support the orchestra’s flagship outreach project.'

Inspire Days traditionally take place at the start of the NYO's spring and summer courses but will also run at other times during 2012. Under the terms of the sponsorship agreement, candidates taking ABRSM exams will also be offered discounted tickets for £5 to the NYO’s regional concerts, including those at The Sage Gateshead (12 April) and at Birmingham's Symphony Hall (1 August). NYO members will also feature in a series of short films and articles made available on ABRSM’s website over the course of the year.

'Making music at the highest possible level gives our members, and everyone they engage with, a profound sense of who they are and what they can be,' Sarah Alexander, NYO's chief executive and artistic director, explained. 'We are delighted to establish this partnership with ABRSM who care equally about giving young people the opportunity to take great steps forward and fulfil their potential.'

New competition for adult amateur pianists launched

6 January 2012

A new piano competition for adult amateurs has been launched, with prizes to include recordings and performances.

Yamaha, Chetham’s International Summer School and Festival for Pianists and Pianist magazine are behind the venture. ‘We wanted to produce a professional, well-organised and resourced showcase opportunity for the thousands of talented and passionate amateur pianists who love the piano and labour at home for hours on end, who yearn for an opportunity to play in a professional public setting with professional musicians,' said Leanne Barrell from Yamaha.

Prizes include a performance with the Manchester Camerata, a recording to be featured on Pianist magazine’s front cover CD plus an in-depth article inside, a free place on the 2013 Chetham’s International Summer School and a recital in Yamaha’s recital hall in central London.

Murray McLachlan, head of keyboard at Chetham’s School of Music, said, 'While practising and having lessons are relatively easy to arrange, it is much harder to find opportunities to perform and aim for goals away from grade exams and diplomas.

'This is where this new competition comes into its own. The prizes include valuable tuition from international performers and teachers, as well as golden opportunities for performance in front of large audiences at the Royal Northern College of Music concert hall and during the Chetham’s Summer School itself.’

The Competition is open to pianists over 30 years of age and features both classical and modern categories. Applicants need to submit an unedited CD of at least two contrasting works. Entries close on 1 May 2012, from which a number of short-listed semifinalists will be invited to perform before a jury in August 2012 at Chetham’s International Summer School in Manchester. Every entry will receive written comments from jury members on their performance.

A maximum of eight pianists will perform in the finals, which will be held at the Royal Northern College of Music on 22 August, in front of an audience and a jury which includes Noriko Ogawa, Michael Roll, Jason Rebello, Nikki Iles and Murray McLachlan.


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