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Lottery grant for National Jazz Archive's outreach programme

8 June 2010

The National Jazz Archive has been awarded a development grant of £26,700 by the Heritage Lottery Fund, allowing it to put in place an outreach programme which will increase overall access to the archive through education, cataloguing and conservation initiatives. It is one stage of a long-term plan to make the bulk of the archive's material available online, and is scheduled to have completed after six months. A major grant will then be applied for 'to transform the Archive into a 21st Century resource'.

The Archive's collection currently holds over 25,000 jazz-related items, comprising books, magazines, pictures, radio scripts and the personal papers of several leading musicians and commentators.

Access makeover for St John's Smith Square

8 June 2010

St John's Smith square is to begin the final stage of its Access Project in July, with reopening scheduled for mid-September. The site will be made fully accessible to wheelchair users, with a lift giving full access to the restaurant and concert hall, while the box office and restaurant will have a new and more prominent entrance directly facing Millbank. Finally, performers will have direct access to the stage from backstage areas.

The work is the culmination of a £1 million fundraising effort which was conducted through trusts, companies and individuals as the hall receives no government subsidy. Regular concert programming will recommence on 21 September with the latest concert in Artur Pizarro's Chopin series.

Radio 3 clears the airwaves to show off the BBC ensembles

28 May 2010

BBC Radio 3 clears its schedules on Sunday 13 June for The BBC’S Big Concert, more than ten hours of live music-making from the BBC’s performing groups across the UK. More than 400 BBC musicians play live from six cities, performing a huge range of music spanning more than 400 years of history.

The ambitious relay of live music-making begins in Salford with the BBC Philharmonic at 11.30am.The baton passes to the BBC Symphony Orchestra in its Maida Vale home in London before going to Glasgow, where it is picked up by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. The BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales continue the relay in Cardiff, before it goes to the BBC Concert Orchestra in Plymouth, then back to London for a BBC Singers performance in St Paul’s Knightsbridge. The day of live music culminates in Belfast, when the Ulster Orchestra joins the celebrations.

BBC Radio 3 presenters introduce the concerts from the stage of each event. The team includes Christopher Cook, Sara Mohr-Pietsch, Jamie MacDougall, Ian Skelley, Sarah Walker and Petroc Trelawny – who presents from Salford in the morning and Belfast in the evening.

From Bach to Bartók the profusion of music included in the day spans more than 400 years and shows off the huge range of world-class music making that the BBC’s performing groups bring to the nation through more than 400 public broadcast concerts around the UK each year.

Particular highlights of the day include the BBC Concert Orchestra’s performance of Paul Patterson’s musical retelling of Roald Dahl’s Three Little Pigs, with Brian Blessed narrating as part of their ‘Best of British’ celebration from Plymouth and the BBC Singers’s performing classic choral works from the 1940s, written for them by Tippett and Britten. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – as part of its third annual big weekend of orchestral music in Glasgow with a whole weekend of free events in Glasgow City Halls – feature symphonic blockbusters from Sibelius, Bartók and Korngold, while the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and BBC Symphony Orchestra focus on music specially chosen by their Principal Conductors - Thierry Fischer and Jiří Bělohlávek who have been tireless champions of French and Czech repertoire respectively.

The BBC performing groups are renowned for the performance of new works  – including the 40-plus works commissioned each year by BBC Radio 3. This is reflected in the BBC’s Big concert with a UK premiere of Sally Beamish’s A Cage of Doves in Scotland, as well as music premiered by other groups recently by Simon Holt, Gabriel Jackson, Judith Bingham, Bob Chilcott and others, while the BBC Symphony Orchestra gives a rare performance of Foerster’s unjustly neglected Fourth Symphony.

All the BBC performing groups are energetically engaged in opening up their work to the widest audiences through extensive learning and outreach work. Throughout the day there are on-air documentaries exploring some of the ground-breaking projects undertaken by the performing groups with tens of thousands of children and adults around the UK.

Included are reports about the BBC Concert Orchestra’s MusicMix tour in which the Orchestra gave eight concerts across the east of England to 7000 school children, and an exploration of how the BBC Symphony Orchestra has brought the music of ultra-contemporary composers George Crumb and Wolfgang Rihm to life for children (and their parents) as part of Total Immersion days devoted to those composers. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra reports on its work with Sistema Scotland which is using music to build a strong society, while the BBC National Orchestra of Wales looks ahead to a project aimed at children with special needs all over Wales. There’s a bird’s eye-view of the wide-ranging projects undertaken by the BBC Singers with children, young professional conductors, composers, and the amateur choral community at large and there’s a chance to meet members of the Salford Family Orchestra, created by the BBC Philharmonic as it continues to build strong bonds with the local community ahead of its move to its new home at Salford Quays next year.

The BBC’s Big Concert is framed by further celebrations of BBC musicians either side with a focus on the BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists in Sunday Morning (10.00am) and a Jazz  Line Up focusing on the BBC Big Band (11.00pm).

Full information about the the BBC performing groups at

Purcell School pianist is BBC Young Musician 2010

17 May 2010

Pianist Lara Omeroglu, 16, from Watford, has won the BBC Young Musician 2010 competition, the concerto final of which was held at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, on 16 May. In a change from the previous competition structure, just three category winners were chosen from a new semifinal stage to perform in the grand final with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Vassily Petrenko. Flautist Emma Halnan, 17, a fellow pupil of Omeroglu's at the Purcell School, and 14-year-old violinist Callum Smart, a pupil of Chetham's School in Manchester, were the runners up. The Walter Todds Bursary for a competitor who does not make it through to the final went to 13-year-old pianist Yuanfan Yang, another Chetham's pupil.
Lara Omeroglu is the first pianist to win the BBC competition since Freddy Kempf in 1992. She has a full scholarship to the Purcell School under the Government’s Music and Dance scheme and is also the 2009-2010 recipient of the Purcell School Friends’ Scholarship. She was chosen by the Purcell School to perform at the Royal Northern College of Music’s Scarlatti Festival, where she was one of only three selected for performance and interview on BBC Radio 3. Her list of achievements includes the overall winner of the West London Pianoforte Festival and finalist at the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition in Weimar. Omeroglu loves playing the piano as soloist and chamber musician, and is also an accomplished viola player, leading the viola section of the Purcell Sinfonia. Her chosen concerto was Saint-Saëns' Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22. In addition to the title of BBC Young Musician 2010, she receives a £2000 cash prize and a trophy designed by Swansea jewellery designer Mari Thomas.

Places still available at Variations summer school for amateur chamber musicians

12 May 2010

A limited number of places are still available for the sixth Variations summer school for amateur musicians which runs from 7-14 August 2010 at the Macphail Centre in Ullapool, on the north west coast of Scotland.
The week-long event offers the opportunity  to play music and learn from professional musicians in a relaxed and inspirational setting. The Edinburgh Quartet, with Joanna Shaw, flute, will again be resident tutors, offering coaching during the day and giving two public concerts at the Macphail during the week, presented in association with North Highlands Connections.   The week’s programme will also feature masterclasses, workshops and orchestral sessions.  New this year is the opportunity, piloted last year, to play with the professionals as a member of the quartet.
Variations is open to all levels, ages and instruments. Past participants, whose ages have ranged from 18 to 88, have welcomed the opportunity to develop their musical and technical skills, gain confidence, make new friends and play new pieces over the week…. and still have time to enjoy the Highland landscape and facilities. Bursaries for students and others on low income are also available.  For more information and to book your place see

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