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Sound and Music plans new deal for composers in higher education

30 April 2013

A development programme for exceptionally talented composers in higher education has been launched by Sound and Music (SAM), the national organisation for new music, as part of a raft of initiatives announced on 30 April by chief executive Susanna Eastburn.

The move follows last year's criticism of SAM under its previous leadership for failing to support young and unestablished composers since it was set up in 2008 to incorporate the Society for the Promotion of New Music, British Music Information Centre, Sonic Arts Network, and Contemporary Music Network. Ms Eastburn took up her post in September 2012 and instigated a consultation process which has resulted in a new programme framework.
Making the announcement, Ms Eastburn said 'SAM has reformed itself, and now, with this framework, we can work with others to transform the future of new music. It features the best of what the organisation has developed in the past, together with new programmes that address gaps and open up new areas of opportunity.'
The higher education programme will run in partnership with NMC Recordings. Every institution in the country will be able to nominate one of their student composers for a chance to join in the programme. Those selected will compose a piece for the 2014 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and some of those will be recorded for release on NMC. 
Existing programmes that will be developed in 2013 include 'Minute of Listening', the software application for schools that encourages listening and reflection by primary schoolchildren; 'Listen Imagine Compose', the nationwide action research programme looking at how composition can be better taught in schools, and how it can be beneficial to pupils in terms of their creative and social development; and the SAM summer school for composers aged 14-18.

Young tenor scoops Catherine Judge Award

29 April 2013

Tenor Michael bell, a pupil of Belfast Royal Academy, has won the 2013 Catherine Judge memorial Award of a £5,000 bursary towards his third-level studies.

The award is open to school pupils on both sides of the irish border, and was created as a way of supporting a new generation of musical talent, in memory of Catherine Judge, an employee of the Bank of Ireland who died in August 2005. It is part of the bank's secondary schools programme and is presented annually to an exceptional solo classical musician who is going on to study music at university or conservatoire.
This year's competition was held at Queen's University, Belfast, on 20 April and attracted ten entrants representing a range of musical disciplines. The judging panel was chaired by pianist Una Hunt, assisted by Tamas Kocsis, leader of the Ulster Orchestra, and Dr Joe McKee, former head of the City of Belfast School of Music.
Michael Bell will be taking up a choral scholarship at St John's College, Cambridge, in September. His winning recital programme consisted of works by J S Bach, Britten and Mozart.

Celtic fringes claim the Songs of Praise choral crowns

29 April 2013

The High School of Glasgow and St Patrick's Primary from Pennyburn, County Derry, in Northern Ireland, have won the senior and junior sections respectively of the BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year Competition 2013. Three schools in each category took part in the competition final, which was held at the BT Convention Centre, Liverpool, and was broadcast in BBC One on 22 April.

Each choir sang a hymn in the semi-final round and an inspirational song in the final. St Patrick's, conducted by Ursula Cullen and accompanied by Trevor Burnside, gave a moving performance of 'On eagle's wings' by Mark Joncas in their semifinal and then left jury member Suzi Digby with 'nothing to criticise' in a performance of the spiritual 'Joshua fit the battle of Jericho' which she described as 'loaded with drama'. The other two schools in the junior final were from Putney High School south London, and Hymers College, Hull. Glasgow High School, conducted by Frikki Walker and accompanied by Neil Macfarlane, sang 'O God you search me' by Bernadette Farrell in their semifinal round and 'Praise his holy name' by Keith Hampton in the final. They competed against Grosvenor Grammar School from Belfast and Tonbridge Grammar School from Kent. David Grant and Myleene Klass were on the judging panel alongside Suzi Digby for both categories. 

International music educators honoured by RPS

24 April 2013

British viola player Rosemary Nalden, founder of Buskaid, is one of five music-makers working on four continents who are to receive honorary membership of the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) at the society's awards ceremony, the 'Oscars' of live classical music, on 14 May at the Dorchester Hotel. 

The International RPS Memberships are part of the society's bicentenary celebrations and are given in association with the British Council and in partnership with the Guardian. They acknowledge inspiring individuals who have put music at the heart of sone of the most challenged communities in the world, supported young musicians and made a profound difference to diversity in music-making. 
Through the Buskaid Trust which she set up in 1992 in response to a BBC TV programme highlighting the difficulties it faced, Rosemary Nalden persuaded distinguished musicians to busk at British railway stations to raise funds for the string project in Soweto, South Africa, which she now directs. In 2007 the Buskaid Ensemble was the first South African orchestra to perform at the BBC Proms and three Buskaid students have taken up scholarships at the Royal Academy of Music.
The other recipients of the rarely-awarded honorary RPS memberships are Armand Diangienda, a former airline pilot who founded a symphony orchestra in Kinshasa, DR of the Congo, one of the poorest cities on earth; Ahmad Sarmast, founder of Afghanistan's first national music school, in Kabul; pianist Ricardo Castro, a former winner of the Leeds International Piano Competition, who established a flourishing youth music programme in Bahia, Brazil; and Aaron P. Dworkin, founder of the Sphinx organisation, which gives opportunities and assistance to aspiring Black and Latino musicians in the USA. Sphinx's mission is for classical music to embrace the diversity of the society inherent in the society that it strives to serve, and Mr Dworkin was President Obama's first appointee to the US National Council on the Arts.

Andrew Lloyd Webber backs secondary schools music

24 April 2013

Andrew Lloyd Webber has launched the Music in Secondary Schools Trust, which will roll out a new music education programme in secondary schools across England. The 'Andrew Lloyd Webber Music Programme' will be supported by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and the Charles Wolfson Trust, to the tune of £2m over its first four years. It will give every child at participating schools the opportunity to study a musical instrument as part of a compulsory curriculum.

The programme is based on the music scheme developed by Truda White, former headteacher of Highbury Grove School, Islington, North London. It aims to improve discipline and the students' commitment to learning; develop team working skills; and enrich the lives of students by providing regular music tuition and performing opportunities as part of ensemble and orchestra groups. Before implementing the scheme Highbury Grove was judged to be effective and improving but had an Ofsted rating of 4 (in 2002); one year after beginning the programme (in 2007) it was judged to be good and three years later it received an Ofsted rating of 1 (outstanding). Ms White believes the programme demonstrated that music can transform the entire academic experience of students.
Schools will be selected for the new scheme through an application process, with top priority being given to schools in areas of deprivation or communities where access to high-quality arts projects is limited. Other criteria include an Ofsted 3 judgement of 'satisfactory - requires improvement' and having high aspirations for all.
The Lister School in the London Borough of Newham will be the trust's first partner school for September 2013. Both the Lister School and Highbury Grove will run the programme during the 2013-14 academic year, with a further two schools for 2014-15. Lord Lloyd-Webber notes that this is not about creating performing artists, but about changing the lives of secondary school students. Asked by the Guardian at the Highbury Grove launch about the reaction of government to his plans, he said that at the moment he finds it difficult to get a returned phone call from ministers. 'They all pay lip service but I wonder if any of them have been to a place like this.'
The composer's wife, Madeleine Lloyd Webber, said: 'This is one of the most exciting projects the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation has been a part of.'

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