On Sunday June 28th, some of the finest musicians in South Gloucestershire joined forces for a special ‘Symphonic Jazz’ Day.
Starting at 1pm, these young musicians had just 4 hours to learn the repertoire they would be performing in a concert at 6pm, and they really did rise to the challenge – complete with soloists from the orchestra. As if this wasn’t enough, at 3pm they were joined by jazz trumpeter and tutor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Gethin Liddington. Gethin has played with many of the great bands and soloists of the modern jazz world, and gave many words of advice about improvisation to the orchestra, as well as briefly working with a select group of soloists on a daring quasi-improvisatory work… But more on that later!
The concert began with some brilliant student soloists. Principal oboe Sophie opened the concert with ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’, delivered with style and confidence. This was followed by a solo jazz and blues piece by Ellen – with some very jazzy slides and rhythms. The last of our soloists was Principal clarinetist Katie, performing ‘Gypsy Dance’ on the alto sax which built from a gentle start to a frenzied finish with impressive handling of fast passages which wowed the audience.
The first half of the concert was closed by a specially-formed jazz quartet, featuring the orchestra’s tutor Dury Loveridge on bass, joined by Gethin, Mark (Head of Music at the Royal High School in Bath) and Adam (Head of Jazz Studies at Bath Spa Uni). They performed 4 pieces, ‘All the things you are’, ‘I can’t get started’, ‘There will never be another you’ and ‘Footprints’. With a variety of styles and virtuosic shows in the solos, it was the perfect mood for a summer’s evening.
The SCYO performed the second half of the concert. There was a great mixture of styles for the orchestra to get into. The concert opened with Shostokovich’s arrangement of ‘Tahiti Trot’ (or ‘Tea for Two’). The story goes that Shostakovich arranged the music in under an hour as a challenge from a friend – showing why he is one of the greatest musical orchestrators to have lived. We were then transported to the world of Gershwin’s ‘Porgy and Bess’ in the composer’s original version. This included some strong soloists, and concluded with the ever-popular ‘Summertime’.
Remember that off-the-wall piece? Yarde’s ‘Wah-Fi’ was next. If features seven lines for the various sections of the orchestra to choose from, with section leader’s signalling which line they should play next – it’s not easy to signal ‘7’ with your fingers whilst playing a cello! With three soloists from the orchestra standing to play their own free-form solos it really showed what the players were made of – some definite jazz soloists in the making!
The concert closed with Count Basie’s staple ‘Jumpin’ at the Woodside’ with fantastic dynamic control from the orchestra in an arrangement that featured every instrument to the fore at some point.
Well done to everyone involved, and that you to our visiting jazz specialists.
Have a brilliant summer, and we look forward to seeing you all at the next SCYO course starting in October, where the jazz theme will continue with Bernstein’s ‘Mambo’!
On Friday March 6th, at St John’s church in Chipping Sodbury SCYO presented two fantastic concert performances of Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals.
The first concert, a ‘bring your bear’ concert was aimed at younger children. By 5:30 the church was full of bears and children alike with over 130 tickets reserved. As the orchestra tuned, children, bears, elephants (At least one of each of the animals from Saint-Saens work was spotted somewhere in the church) settled in for the concert.
Both concerts opened with Victor Herbert’s March of the Toys from the musical ‘Babes in Toyland’. Whilst not as well known as recent hits like ‘Into the Woods’, the musical mixes fairytales and nursery rhymes as characters and stories collide, and has received a Disney film version too. The March begins with a triumphant fanfare, which returns to herald each new section of music. The cellos set a marching tempo with their pizzicato (albeit in a worrying minor key) and then the violins and later the woodwind take us off on a triumphant march. The articulation was perfect, and there were some excellent ‘cheesey’ slides in the strings (the conductor had asked for ‘that 1920’s string sound where it sounds like they’re only playing with one finger’). It had pace, and the tempo changes were handled brilliantly by the orchestra.
It was then on to the main attraction – Saint-Saens’ magnificent Carnival of the Animals. The composer wrote the work for friends whilst on retreat in Austria, and forbid his Parisian publishers permission to print the work until after his death, fearing he would not be taking seriously. Since then it has become one of his most performed works. It had a special note for some of the orchestra – Saint-Saens was once organist of the Eglise de Madeliene in Paris, where the Music Centre performed on tour in 2014.
There was magnificent playing throughout. The work opened with the roar of the lions, with great bowing from the strings. Our clarinettist James and leader Esmae took on some piano duties in Kangaroos and the tongue-in-cheek Pianists movements respectively. Katie and James did a marvelous job as offstage cuckoos, and special mentions go to cellist Jack and bass clarinettist Alice for their solos in The Elephant and The Swan.
The orchestra truly prove themselves to be amongst the finest musicians in South Gloucestershire, with great changes in pace and dynamics. Particular highlights for the audience were the Fossils (including excellent xylophone playing from percussionist James) and the tranquil Aquarium.
But the concert didn’t end there… 2014-15 has seen TAYM take on the role of a Ten Pieces Champion. The BBC Ten Pieces is an initiative across UK primary schools to get more young children involved in classical music. By the end of the year TAYM will have performed most of the Ten Pieces as well as taking part in workshops.
Tonight’s piece was John Adams’ A Short Ride in a Fast Machine. Inspired by the composer’s experiences being taken for a drive by his brother in a Lamborghini, it is a roller-coaster of a work for both the orchestra and the audience. As conductor Dury said, ‘it really is a case of starting the engine and then the conductor is just along for the ride’. It was played with great enthusiasm, and had become a hit with the orchestra. There was a great deal of detail with clear articulation and good dynamic range.
To put on not one but two concerts just hours apart really is a testament to the hard-work and enthusiasm of the players involved. The orchestra presented itself well, and gained yet more of a following from some inspired young musicians. It really was an event for all to be involved in to be proud of and marks the continuation of a great year for the group which has involved both the Music for Youth National Festival and last term’s Peter and the Wolf concerts.
As one audience member summed it up, “Brilliant! Great soloists and a fab programme. Very well done”
You can hear some highlights of the concert on the player below.
On November the 14th, TAMT will be presenting two fantastic performances of Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’. This is a magical and captivating musical tale for children and adults alike, featuring all of your favourite characters: Peter, Grandfather, the hunters, a duck, a cat, a bird… and of course the wolf! The music will be performed by the South Cotswold Youth Orchestra, and narration will by actor John Telfer – known to millions as the Rev. Alan Franks on Radio 4’s The Archers.
As part of the concert, we’re giving children aged 12 and under (on Nov 14th) the chance to win two fantastic prizes – a copy of the animated version of Peter and Wolf signed by Mr Telfer, and copy of the fantastic artwork created for the event by internationally recognised illustrator Rosie Brooks.
There are two ways you can enter:
1) Draw us a Picture!
Draw us a picture of your favourite scene from the story. Or even one of the instruments from the orchestra. The more colourful and fun the better!
2) Write two sentences about Peter and the Wolf!
Tell us what your favourite part of the story is. Tell us who your favourite character is and why. How it makes you feel. Anything about it really. Again, the more interesting and unusual the better.
The rules are simple – You must be aged 12 or under on November the 14th 2014, and all of the work must be your own.
How to enter:
Writing competition: Email your child’s sentences, and their name/age to email@example.com
Picture competition: Either scan, or take a picture of their artwork – you can then email this to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any difficulties, please email us and we can let you know alternative ways of entering!
All entries must be received by Monday November the 10th!
The full video of the Britten Centenary celebration at Music for Youth’s National Festival is now online. The SCYO performance is at 11m 48s onwards, but it’s well worth watching the whole thing to see what the project is all about!
Sunday July 12th saw the South Cotswold Youth Orchestra take part in a special performance on the last day of the Music for Youth National Festival in Birmingham. The National Festival is a week-long celebration of music making featuring pop, urban, classical, wind bands, music centres, symphony orchestras and more. The festival sees performance in Symphony Hall, Birmingham Town Hall and the Adrian Boult Hall, and as part of its celebration of 10 years in Birmingham, there were various fringe performances taking place in the library and marquees around the city centre.
The SCYO were invited to perform at a special performance celebrating the centenary of composer Benjamin Britten. During 2013/14, SCYO have taken part in the Britten and Beyond Project, which has seen 20 selected groups from across the globe establishing links with one another and exploring his music (you can find out about SCYO’s partners at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome here). The culmination of this project, involving Music for Youth, the British Council and the Britten Foundation, took place in the Adrian Boult Concert Hall, within the Birmingham Conservatoire.
When we arrived, we were introduced to Pete Letanka, who would be leading a workshop involving all of the players for the afternoon. Pete is a jazz pianist & composer, and a very experienced workshop leader having led education projects with the Royal Opera House and London Philharmonic Orchestra. We would be learning two songs, one a specially commissioned work to celebrate the project and another based on ‘Cuckoo’ from Brittens Friday Afternoons. A chamber group of musicians from SCYO went to learn their music.
Meanwhile, in the Recital Hall Pete led a high-energy and fast-paced workshop which involved us working with pupils from Grantham Prep School to learn the songs, complete with actions, focussing on aspects of pitch and rhythm.
After a brief rehearsal in the Adrian Boult Hall, at 4pm the celebration began. The event was being filmed from various angles to be broadcast on the internet, and the screen above the ABH stage certainly kept the audience on their toes!
Clips and messages from the groups around the world were broadcast on the screen, including Bulgaria and Armenia. A teacher from the Maynard School in Exeter was interviewed about her school’s involvement, and then it was time for the SCYO to present the first ‘live’ performance. The videos really gave the players a chance to see what a big, international project they had been involved with.
The Orchestra performed three movements from Britten’s ‘Soirees Musicales’ – The rousing March, the dancing Tirolese, and the foot-stomping Tarantella. All of the players really rose to the ocassion, performing with professionalism and expertise. There were brilliant solos from flute, clarinet and oboe, and the strings really worked together to make a cohesive sound. The audience certainly showed their appreciation at the end!
After the performance, more clips were featured involving groups further afield, before we came to the grand finale. Pete taught the audience their part (yes, the audience provided some extra backing rhythms!). Before we performed ‘Cuckoo’ and Pete’s own composition. Everyone involved was impressed at the way the SCYO players threw themselves into this piece – both those playing instruments and those singing. It showed real enthusiasm and true professionalism – learning and performing a new piece within an hour takes courage and concentration.
The entire performance, including the clips and messages, will be online to watch again shortly and we will post a link when it’s up. With the whole thing filmed from various angles it should be brilliant to watch again and we can’t wait. And no, no one was immune to the occasional close up on the big screen!
A big ‘thank you’ must go to Judith for organising everything, and Music for Youth for their excellent organisation. We hope to continue our links with some of the groups involved too. It really was a fantastic experience for everyone, tutors and pupils alike, and it’s been a privilege to be involved in such a project.
As part of the Britten and Beyond Project, the South Cotswold Youth Orchestra have been establishing partnership links with Cecilia Luvenilis Orchestra in Rome. Although the orchestra is relatively new, it is part of the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia, which was established in its present guise more than 130 years ago. As far back as the 16th century, musicians hoping to play in the Papal Kingdom had to pass a special exam there before they could do so. It includes amongst it former pupils the Honourary Academy Award holding composer Ennio Morricone, most famous for his score to ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’.
The Cecilia Luvenilis Orchestra has around 30 pre-degree level musicians gaining performance experience and coaching from the Conservatoire’s professors and staff. Below is the initial letter we received from them:
Dear Dury and the South Cotswold Youth Orchestra,
I would like to introduce you to the newly formed Cecilia Iuvenilis Orchestra. Alfredo Santoloci, the director of the Santa Cecilia Conservatory, has founded the orchestra aiming to bring together pre-degree students to gain experience in high-level ensemble playing.
The orchestra began rehearsing early this year and performed its first concert a few weeks ago on the 8th June.
There are 30 young musicians aged between 10 and 20 years including some degree-level students. All instrumental sections are present in the orchestra and we are looking forward to more students joining next academic year.
For the opening concert, we performed orchestrations of piano works by Clementi, Mozart, Schumann, adapted by Marco Massimiliani, a degree-level composition student, along with adaptations by both Maestro Santoloci and Marco Massimiliani of music by Vivaldi.
The orchestra is currently on the summer break and will perform its next concert in October.
We look forward to hearing more about your concerts and will be sending photos shortly!
The group have been joined with the SCYO via the British Council, and we hope to establish stronger links with the group during the next Academic Year. We were thrilled earlier this week to receive an email including a video link from their first concert in their new guise.
Dear Dury and the South Cotswolds Youth Orchestra,
We’d like to share with you a clip of our first performance as the Cecilia Iuvenilis Orchestra. The concert took place on 8th June in the Sala Accademica of the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia, was conducted by Maestro Alfredo Santoloci and teachers, parents and friends made up the audience of about 150. We are looking forward to starting rehearsals in September after the summer break and are particularly excited to be performing in October for the Pope!
Marco Massimiliani and the Cecilia Iuvenilis Orchestra
You can watch the video below, and we look forward to hearing more from them, and sharing news of our ‘Symphony in a Day 2014′ and Music for Youth Trip with them!
Wow! What a day. I can’t believe we packed so much into just one afternoon…!
It was great to have so many players, new and old, join us in the Armstrong Hall at 1pm. We quickly took to the stage, and by 3pm we had conquered the 1st and 4th movements of the Dvorak (sort of!). There was some fine playing from the strings, particularly the violins, as well as careful work from the oboe & cor anglais.
At 3 o’clock we welcomed Alexander Technique Teacher Lisa Clarke. Lisa gave a 1hr presentation and interactive lessons to the orchestra, explaining how Alexander’s principals can be used to improve performance, overcome performance anxiety / stage-fright, and how it can help reduce strain. The presentation began with a simple (and then not so simple!) ball game, which illustrated perfectly the way we naturally hold our breath when things get tricky or complicated – something which easily interferes with a musician’s performance. Lisa then talked to us about habits which we may not realise we have – for example, can you fold your arms the opposite way to ‘normal’? How do you move your body when you pick up your instrument? The remainder of the class focussed on the position of the head joint – it’s surprising, but not uncommon that most people do not realise wear the joint is, but once you become aware of it (and the weight of your head), you can move more easily.
There was a chance for the whole orchestra to benefit from Lisa’s expertise. By focussing on breathing, the cello section (already making a mighty sound) were able to play louder, and more freely, aware of the space around them.
There was then a chance for some quick 1-1 interactions. Flautist Antonia was shown how focussing on her head position and balance allowed her sound to project more, and she could focus more on the notes. Conductor Chris also had a lesson on how much strain can be caused by naturally making himself smaller when conducting.
After some more rehearsing, which included a practice of the Britten ready for the Music for Youth performance – which really came to life with four trumpets! – there was a chance for the players to eat tea with some entertainment in the form of Bone Appetit rehearsing on the stage!
At 7pm it was showtime. The first half of the concert was a performance by the stunning ‘Bone Appetit’. This trombone quartet comprises trombonists and bass trombonists who are in their third year at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. They performed for Gwent Music Service’s ‘Tiddly Troms’ earlier in the day, and have recently performed on BBC Radio3. They were polished, classy and a hit with the audience. Amongst the pieces they played were some Welsh hymn tunes with a twist, The Pink Panther, William Tell and… well, not wanting to spoil it for future audiences, let’s just say ‘You Raise Me Up’ has a special surprise!
After interval drinks, it was time for SCYO to take to the stage. They began with a performance of Britten’s ‘Soirees Musicales’. SCYO are privileged to the only orchestra of this level representing the South Gloucestershire area at the Music for Youth National Festival this year. The work was confident and assured (helped by our new-found additions in the trombone section!) with great clarinet, flute, oboe and violin solos in particular.
The Orchestra then showed-off their hard work earlier in the day with Dvorak’s mighty Sixth Symphony – the orchestral work which made Dvorak famous! The acoustics of the hall were excellent, and it was great to hear each section highlighted in their own way. The performance was certainly fun and lively!
What a brilliant day – it was great to be able to bring the orchestra together in this way, and we’re all looking forward to Peter and the Wolf in November with our guest narrator.
Oh yes… There’s Music for Youth next on July 12th though!
Friday March 14th was concert night for the South Cotswold Youth Orchestra. With a packed audience at St Helen’s in Alveston, the orchestra were buzzing with excitement. The concert opened with Mozart’s ‘Prague’ Symphony which, whilst Mozart’s 38th Symphony, is widely accepted to be the first true symphony in the form we know it today. Written when Mozart was high on the success of his opera, it was written for a special trip to Prague. The first moevement, the longest in any symphony of the 18th century, begins with a powerful Adagio which the orchestra handled very well, before erupting into a fiery Allegro. The last movement is another tour de force, with the strings and wind playing independently, with the music moving through a variety of keys. It is a testament to the ability of these players that they kept their concentration, and their cool, throughout the whole performance.
We were then delighted to welcome our orchestra leader Esmae to the piano, where she performed the second movement of the Brahms Piano Concerto No.2 in Bb. Esmaes performance was not just technical accurate, is showed a great depth of musicality as the music passes between the orchestra and soloist time and time again. Esmae received a fitting enthusiastic reception from the orchestra, and was seen talking to audience members about the piano and her playing at the end of the concert.
SCYO then closed the concert with a performance of Britten’s ‘Soirees Musicales’. This was a part of the centenary celebrations of the English composer taking place around the globe. The orchestra was selected to take part in the Britten and Beyond project (http://www.brittenandbeyond.org) which sees youth groups from around the world coming together to learn and play the music of Britten, and share their experiences of his music. You can visit the orchestra page on the website, and the two pictures below were taken in the concert just before they played the work. The performance itself was technically adept. There were brilliant solos from our clarinet, oboe, trumpet and flute principals, as well as a great sound and brilliance from our strings and percussion. A real treat to hear a youth orchestra play so well. Well done!
Saturday January 18th was the TAMC Open morning. It was great to see so many young players coming along to see the great things happening at Thornbury Area Music Centre on Saturday morning. The Junior Wind is now a sea of young flautists and clarinetists!
It was great to have local MP Steve Webb join us again – complete with his oboe. He later tweeted, ‘Great to see Thornbury Area Music Trust thriving when I visited at the weekend – not sure whether the rusty oboist who joined for the morning added much though!”
If you missed the open day, it’s not to late to join TAMC. Just come along with your instrument to Marlwood School at 9.30am on a Saturday. There’s some great repertoire this term, including Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin” and the best of GreenDay!
The new TAMT posters, postcards and other marketing materials have been distributed in the last few weeks. They should be appearing in schools, shops, libraries and other public places near you. You can view them using the links below. If you can think of a place where we haven’t yet placed them, then please let us know.
Thornbury Gazette has just published online a really good article about TAMT’s 1st year and the launch of the Junior Music Centre from September – sponsored by John Lewis music matters, Co-operative Community Fund and Old Down country park
The full article can be viewed here>>>