Followers of the Two Moors Festival will know how much work we do with pupils in schools across the south-west of the UK, putting on workshops with professional musicians and giving them the opportunity to take part in the festival every year, so it was with interest that we read of a new Ofsted report stating that a quality music education only reaches a minority of students.
Although it was found that the 120 music hubs set up as part of the government’s Music Plan to reorganise music support services had brought “vitality” and “energy” to teaching, very little was too often expected of pupils and only a handful of students were benefiting.
Michael Cladingbowl, director of schools policy at Ofsted, said: “Music is a demanding academic discipline, developed through exciting practical musical activity. However, the vast majority of the schools visited shied away from teaching pupils about fundamental aspects of music as they thought it too difficult. All children, not just the privileged few, should enjoy a good music education.”
How do you think this can be tackled? What would you like to see the festival doing, alongside our workshops?
If you’re looking for a good classical music-inspired Christmas present for friends and family, you might like to think about getting a copy of 4 Girls 4 Harps at Christmas – a brilliant CD just brought out by the quartet, who have really gone from strength to strength this year.
It includes traditional choral anthems cleverly mixed with jazz and folk and won rave reviews from BBC Music Direct, which described it thus:
“This will blow away the cobwebs – sparklingly energetic arrangements for four harps of favourite carols. The 4 Girls … do the arranging themselves, with versatility and imagination. Ensemble is watertight and there’s a real rhythmic elan to the playing which keeps you listening.”
It’s due to be released on December 2nd and you can pre-order your copy from Amazon now.
We were very pleased to have recently been the subject of conversation for Daily Telegraph music critic Michael White, who had some very lovely things to say about The Two Moors Festival.
He writes about how the festival began back in 2001 as the result of the foot and mouth crisis that devastated the south-west, as well as discussing the sheer number of concerts that are put on in just 10 days in October.
We were particularly tickled by this comment, made after this year’s main two-week event, which ended a few weeks ago:
“I’ve just been down there and clocked up six concerts in two-and-a-half days: some of memorable quality, given by major artists, and in places of exquisite beauty. It’s like going to the Wigmore Hall, with better views. And cows.”
You can read the rest of the article here. Please do tell us if you’ve come across the Festival in other news pieces – and we hope to see you at some concerts next year!
If you’re interested in the working dynamics of an orchestra and want to find out all you can about it, then you definitely need to have a look at LSO Play, a new website that allows you to focus on different sections of the London Symphony Orchestra while they play Ravel’s Bolero, showing you four different viewpoints at any one time.
There’s a sidebar on the left that helps you navigate your way through the site, with fact sheets on all the instruments in the orchestra, biographies on the conductor and the players and various masterclasses with some leading musicians, including Sam Walton, Dudley Bright, Matthew Gardner, Chi-Yu Mo and Rachael Leach.
A few downloads are also available – a Key Stage 2 resource for teachers and the full live performance of Bolero, directed by Gramophone award winner Christopher Swann.
According to the website, this is the first in an ongoing series of performances, so keep an eye on what’s coming up next.
Do you remember a few years ago when the Two Moors Festival put on Beethoven & Biscuits, where all nine of the composer’s symphonies were played at concerts throughout the main two-week event in October, with a monologue at the beginning of each one written from the point of Beethoven himself? We thought that was a bit of a marathon Beethoven celebration and were particularly impressed by those who made it to each performance – and we’re equally impressed by pianist Martin Roscoe who has set himself the challenge of playing all five of the composer’s piano concertos in one evening next month.
If you’re in Manchester on October 5th, it might be particularly interesting to make your way to the Royal Northern College of Music to hear Martin take on the five-hour endurance test, put on to raise money for the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund, with the Royal Northern’s own Daniel Parkinson conducting.
In the last few years I seem to have developed a bit of a reputation for Beethoven, having now recorded all the Piano Sonatas and played many of them in all-Beethoven recitals,” Martin told Mancunian Matters. “I have played all the Beethoven concertos many times and always feel very at home in these wonderful pieces. Four years ago, I played both Brahms’ Piano Concertos in one evening. My friend told me he had played all five Beethoven piano concertos in one concert in Germany. So I thought why not in the UK?”
It all gets going at 17:00 on the 15th, with tickets starting at £12 if bought in advance.
Have you ever set yourself any classical music challenges?
Last year at the Two Moors Festival main two-week event in October, we put on a hugely popular series of performances in the waiting room of Tiverton Parkway train station – which proved to have incredible acoustics! Because of its success, we’ve decided to run the event again, this time in the lead-up to the October programme, and it’s on right now!
All artists involved are supremely talented young musicians, either music scholars, former instrumentalists with the National Youth Orchestra or studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Wells Cathedral School or the Royal Academy of Music.
It all started on September 6th, with Polly Bartlett entertaining concert-goers and commuters alike on her recorder and oboe, followed by Anna Im on violin on the 13th.
The next concert is on September 20th, with marimba player Molly Lopresti performing Stout’s Mexican Dance and Abe’s Dream of the Cherry Blossoms. The weekly programme will continue until October 11th, ending with flautist Victoria Creighton – just five days before the Two Moors Festival really gets going on the 16th.
Entry to these concerts at the train station are free and no ticket is required. We hope to see you there!
- The box office is open! (2mfblog.wordpress.com)
- An interview with: Jayson Gillham (2mfblog.wordpress.com)
- Concert at Culbone (2mfblog.wordpress.com)
- Bassoonatics! (2mfblog.wordpress.com)
For the first time in the 119-year history of the Proms, a woman – violinist and conductor Marin Alsop – has led the orchestra in the Last Night of the Proms. This is indeed particularly heartening news for a profession that has been typically male-dominated in the past, but it does beg the question: why aren’t there more female conductors out there in the UK?
Names such as Alsop, Jane Glover, Simone Young and JoAnn Falletta do command respect in the classical music world, this is undeniable, but there can be no disputing the fact that none of the 15 leading orchestras in the world have female chief conductors at the helm.
Although the industry has been accused of sexism and discrimination in the past – with manager of the New York Philharmonia in the 1970s Helen Thompson once saying “women can’t conduct Brahms, and Mahler is men’s music” – great inroads have been made in the last five years, with an increasing number of women signing up to study the vocation, and North America and Scandinavia leading the trend.
“We still have to fight stereotypes,” Ewa Strusinska, who recently moved from England’s Hallé Orchestra to become music director of a Polish orchestra, told The Economist. “In the UK there aren’t many female conductors at all. People would look at us as individuals doing men’s work.”
Seeing a woman take the helm and lead the orchestra at one of the biggest classical music concerts on the yearly calendar will surely help further the cause of female conductors in the UK – and with increasing numbers of young women joining youth orchestras in the country, we think it’s surely only a matter of time before we have a leading female conductor appointed at one of our most prominent orchestras.
Are you an aspiring female conductor? What do you think needs to happen to enact change in this part of the classical music industry?