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Dartington Summer School and Festival on hold

Dartington Music School and Festival has announced that plans for next year’s summer school and festival are on hold.

The festival’s artistic director Sara Mohr-Pietsch has also stepped down from her role, as has the rest of the summer school team.

A statement on Dartington’s website reads:

‘In 2023, Dartington Trust celebrated the 75th anniversary of Summer School with an incredible programme of 86 courses, 85 public events and 96 bursary places for emerging talent. We honoured our long history and unique place in the eco-system of classical music: combining professional talent development with an attractive offer for amateur musicians, as well as a world-renowned concert series in the heart of South Devon.

‘Normally at this point in the year, Summer School would be taking Priority Bookings for 2024 and offering a preview of next year’s programme, but future plans and bookings for the Music Summer School & Festival are under review.

‘Artistic Director Sara Mohr-Pietsch has decided to step down from her role after a successful four-year tenure, as have the rest of the Summer School team. Dartington Trust is grateful to them for their hard work over the years and wishes them every future success.’

Dartington advises that anyone wanting an update on plans for 2024 and 2025 should email

First established at Bryanston School, Dorset in 1948, thanks largely to former BBC controller of music William Glock, the school moved to its current home, Dartington Hall near Exeter, in 1953. It welcomes a broad range of musicians, from conservatoire students and young professionals to enthusiastic amateurs.
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Internationally renowned musicians teach and direct the courses and perform concerts in the evenings, with some courses working towards student performances at the end of the week. Musicians including Imogen Holst, Peter Maxwell Davies, Nadia Boulanger, Richard Rodney Bennett, Anne-Sophie von Otter and Alfred Brendel have all appeared at Dartington.

Errollyn Wallen on becoming a composer

In an exclusive extract from her new book the musician recalls the shift from concertgoer to concert-giver – and how it involved chocolate, and explains why opera composers lie, cheat, steal, murder and live to tell the tale

Errollyn Wallen

“As a student at Goldsmiths I was out practically every night attending concerts and was at nearly every important premiere – Ferneyhough, Maxwell Davies, Birtwistle, Boulez, Reich, LeFanu – mostly male composers, it is true. So very many concerts by London Sinfonietta. But how did I make the transition from concertgoer to concert-giver?

Nicola LeFanu did so much to promote her mother Elizabeth Maconchy’s music and I remember her saying how difficult it had been for her mother to be taken seriously as a composer. Nicola, along with several of us fellow female composers, musicians and administrators, founded the organisation Women in Music in 1987 to help address the woeful situation. Wherever I turned there was rejection. Nothing about me fitted the picture of a composer. I didn’t even fit the image to myself – I wasn’t white, male, dead, in a wig or on a wall. I applied to all the major composing courses, including Tanglewood, Banff and Dartington, and entered many competitions with no success. I also applied to the brilliant Gulbenkian Course for Choreographers and Composers, finally getting admitted on my third attempt. My ambitions for my music seemed out of step with the prevailing classical-music structures.

But there came a day when I realised in a flash that no one was ever going to play my music unless I did something about it myself. I had started to have a vision of contemporary classical music that was fun and joyous. I loved going to concerts of new music but they were so resolutely serious and seemed to be mostly for the benefit of the already initiated. Most of the composers were male. There were a lot of brown jumpers. My years performing more widely – from care homes to stadiums – reinforced my desire to connect with a larger world. I decided to put on a concert with my friends based around repertoire I had already composed. This was Ensemble X’s first gig, at the Purcell Room on London’s South Bank in 1990. The audience was greeted with a bite-size Mars bar each. I had always wanted to go to a concert that involved chocolate. I had written the press releases and posted them by hand to music journalists and newspapers. I came up with a motto for the band: ‘We don’t break down barriers in music … we don’t see any.’ While I was concerned about the use of the negative twice in that motto, it did genuinely speak to my own musical aesthetic.”

New documentary about Fanny Mendelssohn

A new feature documentary about Fanny Mendelssohn is to be screened in UK cinemas from 27 October 2023. Dartmouth Films’ Fanny: The Other Mendelssohn from BAFTA-winning director Sheila Hayman and producer Mercury Studios will be shown in more than 100 locations throughout the UK.

The film reveals ‘the extraordinary story of Fanny, a composer long ignored by the classical music world in favour of her famous brother Felix, who despite being forbidden a musical career persevered, composing 450 works in her short life’.

The film also features pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason who performs Fanny’s Easter Sonata – a work that was lost for 150 years and when found attributed to Felix, before finally being recognised as hers. During the documentary Kanneh-Mason explores ‘the parallels between her life and Fanny’s – including the challenge of being a pioneer with few role models in classical music’.

Sheila Hayman, Fanny Mendelssohn’s three times great-granddaughter, writes and directs the film, shot with an all-female crew in Berlin, New York, London, Oxford and Buckingham Palace and featuring many of Fanny’s never-before-heard or recorded pieces.

Choral composer John Rutter receives Ivors Academy Fellowship

Choral composer John Rutter has been awarded the Academy Fellowship, the highest honour bestowed by the Ivors Academy. The Fellowship will be celebrated at The Ivors Classical Awards which take place on 14 November 2023 at BFI Southbank in London.

Rutter’s hymns, anthems and much-celebrated Christmas carol arrangements are performed by professional and amateur choirs all over the world, and have featured in such landmark occasions as the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, the two most recent royal weddings and the Coronation of King Charles III earlier this year. Rutter previously received an Ivor Novello award in 2007 at the Academy’s songwriting ceremony, The Ivors, to recognise his outstanding contribution to classical music.

The Ivors Academy Fellowships recognise ‘excellence and impact in the art and craft of music creation’, and have been awarded to 24 musicians and composers since 2000. The current list of Fellows includes John Adams, Sir Malcolm Arnold, John Barry, Don Black, Pierre Boulez, Kate Bush, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Peter Gabriel, Sir Barry Gibb, Sir Elton John, Annie Lennox, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Tim Rice, Judith Weir and Sting.

Audiences want more modern concert experience, says RPO survey

More than three in four adults (76%) say they would be more likely to attend an orchestral concert if orchestras took steps to modernise the concert experience, according to new research.

The study, commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), considered a number of potential innovations to the classical concert experience, and asked respondents how much they would like to see these changes. Shorter concerts (endorsed by 27% of respondents), more matinee performances (24%), conductors speaking to the audience (20%) and being encouraged to keep phones on during a performance (11%) were among the other things that people people would like to see at orchestral concerts.

The findings follow a successful 2023 BBC Proms, in which ticket sales rose above pre-Covid levels, with 350,000 people attending a show across the eight-week season.

The RPO survey backs up these encouraging statistics, revealing that the number of people that say they would like to experience an orchestral concert has hit a five-year peak. Where a similar survey in 2018 revealed that 79% of respondents would like to experience an orchestral concert, that figure has now climbed to 84%.

Overall, 91% of longstanding orchestral music enthusiasts would most like to see modernising steps taken, and their top suggestions centred around making the orchestra more open and accessible. This group was most likely to want to see more daytime or matinee concerts (34%), ‘meet-and-greets’ with soloists or orchestra members (27%) and conductors talking to the audience before a performance (27%).

Proms commission for the BBC Concert Orchestra

Sarah Rodgers has been commissioned for the 2023 BBC Proms season to write a new work for the BBC Concert Orchestra. The world premiere performance of the new work, called Seascapes, will take place on Friday 8th September at the Hippodrome in Great Yarmouth. There will be a live broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and the concert will then be available on BBC sounds.
Concert Programme

New work for Cambridge Clarinet Choir

The Cambridge Clarinet Choir have commissioned a new work for 2023 to celebrate the life of one of their longest-serving members. A Little Dream of Iona will be premiered in Cambridge on 14th October. A one-movement piece, it is scored for Eflat clarinet, 4 Bflat clarinets and 2 Bflat bass clarinets.

Sing out loud! Ring out loud!

Sing out loud! Ring out loud! is a new choral work written for the Gressenhall Singers, setting words by Sir John Betjeman, for the beacon lighting celebrations of the Platinum Jubilee and premiered on 2nd June 2022.

Music for Body, Mind and Soul

Music for Body, Mind and Soul is a series of four films exploring the world of deeper listening. Written and directed by Sarah Rodgers, the films feature clarinettist, Geraldine Allen, and pianist, Brenda Blewett in 20th century clarinet repertoire including Spanish Sonata by Sarah Rodgers.

The four titles are –
Deeper listening
Telling the story
Connecting out
Gathering in

They can be found on YouTube under Music for Body, Mind and Soul

Spitalfields Music commission Sizzle!

A commission from Spitalfields Music for vioin, viola and piano and due to have been performed live in June 2020 was postponed to December 5th 2020 as part of the Spitalfields Music, Fast Food, Fast Music Festival.

Performers, Miller-Porfiris Duo (violin and viola) and Siwan Rhys (piano) collaborated cross-Atlantic to produce a recording which was streamed live during the Festival.

The music which opens this promotional video comes from Sarah’s trio, called, Sizzle!

Maggini Boxset for Naxos

maggini naxos boxset

Naxos is releasing a 20-CD Boxed Set of the Maggini’s recordings of British string quartets on 13 September 2019.

From Alwyn and Arnold to Vaughan Williams and Walton, via Bax, Bridge, Britten, Elgar, Ireland and Moeran, to name but a few. This is diverse and wonderful repertoire and remains central to the Quartet’s programming and ongoing commitment to bringing it to new audiences.

These acclaimed CDs have received international awards including Gramophone Chamber Music CD of the Year, Diapason d’Or of the Year, and two Grammy Nominations, and have been frequent Editor’s choices in Gramophone and also BBC Music Magazine.

Tavener Memorial Sculpture Unveiled

Tavener SculptureIt was an immense pleasure and no small privilege to attend the unveiling ceremony of the newly commissioned sculpture to commemorate the life and work of Sir John Tavener. On Friday 11th November, a packed Winchester Cathedral listened to extracts from the Veil of the Temple, sung by Patricia Rozario. Sir John’s Evensong settings were performed by the Cathedral Choir under Andy Lumsden and the congregation participated in chants and responses throughout the service.
A smaller gathering continued after the service to the act of dedication including prayers led by Metropolitan Kalistos at the Federov icons before the sculpture itself was unveiled. Created by Angela Conner, the sculpture is fashioned in glass and represents the fluidity of art and life. If you want to find it, walk past the chancel on the south side and look to the wall on your right.
Lady Tavener gave a moving dedication as the sculpture was unveiled. Several composers were present including Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music and John Rutter, an alumnus with Tavener of Highgate School and a lifelong friend.
The evening concluded with a sublime performance by Andrew Watts and Fretwork of Tavener’s Nipson, commissioned by the BBC in 1998.
The evening celebrations had been preceded by a Symposium on Sir John’s music at Winchester University, led by ISM member Professor June Boyce-Tillman.
As a line from the Veil of the Temple says, ‘You struck fire in my heart and I have been consumed!’ Such is the power of music.

BBC Composer of the Week: Bernard Stevens – July 4th – 8th:

The broadcast times are:
Monday July 4th – 12 noon & again at 6.30 pm (repeat)
Tuesday July 5th – 12 noon & again at 6.15 pm (repeat)
Wednesday July 6th – 12 noon only – no repeat
Thursday July 7th – 12 noon & again at 6.30 pm (repeat)
Friday July 8th – 12 noon only – no repeat

See also:

Each programme will also be available (after the live broadcast) online via i-player. Just go to the Radio 3 “Composer of the Week ” section of the BBC website:

This is also available from outside the UK, for example in Germany, where the Bernard Stevens Trust is now located. It is also possible to listen to BBC R3 live from outside the UK on the “Tune-In Radio” an app available for all major mobile phone & tablet platforms  – if you have any difficulties with listening live on the BBC website.

The works will be performed as follows, in the order listed below:

Monday July 4th: Liberation Symphony 2nd movt, Aria for Solo Piano, Kyrie & Gloria from the Mass for Double Choir, Violin Concerto

Tuesday July 5th: Piano Trio, Liberation Symphony (complete), Suite from the music for the film “The Mark of Cain”, Theme & Variations for String Quartet

Wednesday July 6th: Fantasia on the Irish Ho-Hoane for 2 Pianos, Cello Concerto, Andante from String Quartet no. 2, Dance Suite for Orchestra

Thursday July 7th: Agnus Dei from the Mass for Double Choir, 2nd Symphony, Horn Trio, “Ballad no 2” for Solo Piano

Friday July 8th: “The Birds Know This” from “The True Dark” Song Cycle, Opening section of the the opera “The Shadow of the Glen”, “Nocturne on a Note-Row by Ronald Stevenson” for Solo Piano, Piano Concerto

BBC Composer of the Week: Bernard Stevens - July 4th - 8th

The Bernard Stevens Trust is delighted to announce that in commemoration of his 100th anniversary, Bernard Stevens will be featured in the BBC Radio 3 Series “Composer of the Week” every day from July 4th to 8th. Watch this space for programme times.

New Grainger Release for Penelope Thwaites

Penelope Thwaitesphoto: Clive Barda

Forthcoming recording projects for Penelope Thwaites include the release of a 4-CD box set of Grainger’s complete music for two pianos four hands. This includes the re-issue of her much admired recordings with John Lavender Volumes 1-3 and a brand new Volume 4 in which Penelope is joined by the outstanding Australian pianist Timothy Young. The set is due for release in October/November 2016 on the Heritage label.

Read the review of Grainger Box Set in The Australian, Dec 2016

Bernard Stevens - The Bramble Briar

Performed by David Russell in honour of the 100th anniversary of the birth of composer Bernard Stevens (1916-1983).
Written in 1970, the piece is based upon the English folk song “The Bramble Briar”.
Sheet Music published by Editioni Musicali Berben, Ancona-Milano.

New Chandos Recording for Robert Woolley

Robert Woolley’s latest recording for Chandos is Volume 3 of Sweelinck’s Complete Keyboard Music. The performances are on Virginals made by Johannes Grouwels who is recorded as Master of the Guild of St Luke, Antwerp, in 1579, in the collection of the Brussels Museum of Musical Instruments. Follow the link to Robert’s website for more information

Impulse receives Innovate UK Award

Impulse was chosen earlier this year for an Innovate UK Award. Formerly the Technology Strategy Board, Innovate UK awards SMEs with grants to implement original and business-building ideas. Through the Award, we have been able to access expert advice on the value of design in effectively promoting our business online. This has transformed our understanding of the relationship between design and business growth and has provided us with new skills which will help to maximise our effectiveness as a web portal. The benefits to all Impulse clients are already recognised and will continue to evolve as the portal develops.
Find out more about Innovate UK

Kenneth Alwyn celebrates landmark birthday

On 5th August, distinguished conductor and BBC presenter, Kenneth Alwyn, celebrated his 90th birthday. Arriving at the venue by gyrocopter, Kenneth marked the occasion with a gathering of friends and well-wishers. Follow the link to read a full report.

Salzedo Catalogue Available at Royal College of Music Library

A large part of the catalogue of Leonard Salzedo can now be viewed at the Library of the Royal College of Music, London.

Leonard Salzedo (1921 – 2000) was born in London of Spanish/Jewish descent. He studied at the Royal College of Music, London, with Isolde Menges for violin and Dr Herbert Howells for composition.

While still a student he won the Cobbett Prize for his First String Quartet and was commissioned to write his first ballet The Fugitive.

After leaving college he played in the London Philharmonic Orchestra and then with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1964 he joined the London Soloists Ensemble for whom he wrote Concerto Fervido.

In 1967 he gave up playing the violin to become Musical Director of Ballet Rambert (now Rambert Dance Company). From 1972 until 1974 he was principal conductor with the Scottish Ballet, and from 1982 until 1986 he was Music Director of London City Ballet.

Alison Pearce Launches UK Master Class

Alison Pearce’s UK Master Class for Singers will run from 24th – 29th August 2015 in Stapleford, Cambridge.

The course is intended for a maximum of ten singers who wish to improve their technique and musicality by participating in a week of master classes with a distinguished international singer and teacher, together with eminent colleagues.

Singers are invited to bring the music they most enjoy singing to work on at the Granary and at the conclusion of the week a public performance of some of the memorised repertoire will be given by participants.

The course begins on Monday 24th August to Saturday 29th August inclusive. The master classes in vocal and stage techniques will run from 10 am each day with a mid-morning coffee break and lunch.  Thursday will be a free day to allow time for a guided visit of Cambridge, and there will be two other lectures (The Gilded Stage and Verdi & Victoria) from Daniel Snowman to support the musical content of the course.

Richard Deering Recital Tours

Richard Deering will be making a Recital Tour to South Africa in November of this year. Last year, Tours took him to Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Tokyo and India.

Sarah Francis Recordings Re-issued

Heritage Music, a new label featuring British artists, have recently reissued Sarah Francis and the London Harpsichord Ensemble performing the Albinoni, Handel and Telemann Concertos in a boxed set.

Sarah Francis’s highly acclaimed performances of the complete solo oboe concertos of Albinoni, the complete oboe concertos and sonatas of Handel and the complete concertos of Telemann are reissued here for the first time. The recordings, from the late 80s and early 90s, are sourced from the Unicorn label and the accompanying booklet includes a highly informative essay by 18th century music authority Nicholas Anderson.

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