Archive for January 2015

Handel at Jackdaws

Handel at Jackdaws

Jackdaws has always had a special relationship with the music of Handel. Our founder, Maureen Lehane, was a renowned Handel interpreter whose performances were legendary and the relationship continues this March, when Handelian soprano Rosa Mannion returns to Jackdaws to lead her course on the arias of the great composer. We have been getting in the mood for the weekend with a selection of our favourite videos…

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Falsa imagine” is sung by Teofane in the first act of Ottone, when she is deceived by Adelberto at their first meeting into thinking he is Ottone, the man she is to marry. Film clip from “A Night with Handel” on Channel 4 DVD.

 

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In the second act of Orlando, Dorinda sings “Se Mi Rivolgo al Prato” to the title character of how she sees the face of Medoro everywhere, the warrior with whom she is in love. From the recording with Les Arts Florissants and William Christie.

Spring into Action!

Spring into Action!

Flowers in the Jackdaws Rose GardenFresh from our winter break, we’re springing into action at Jackdaws with a full schedule of weekend courses, a major Education project in schools and our ongoing weekly groups for young musicians.

There are plenty of courses this season for singers of all abilities and interests. Distinguished singers, Sarah Leonard and Stephen Varcoe, are leading their first course at Jackdaws ‘English Song Weekend’; they will share their expertise of the area, focusing particularly on songs written around the time of the Great War by Gurney, Ireland and others. Accompanist Nigel Foster will be on hand throughout the weekend, and Richard Carder, Chair of English Poetry and Song Society, will give a talk on the subject on Saturday afternoon.

Handel specialist, Rosa Mannion, returns to Jackdaws in March with her popular ‘Singing Handel’ weekend course. Participants have the opportunity to explore and celebrate some of Handel’s wonderful arias with an aficionado of his music. His operas and oratorios exemplify his most important consideration when writing for voice: depiction of character and expression of feeling. Rosa will encourage singers to explore the dramatic intention behind them as well as experiment with decoration, style and deal with the technical issues they highlight.

Singers of all abilities are invited to enjoy a weekend of German, French and Italian art-songs with Richard Jackson, an expert in European vocal music on ‘A Song By Any Other Name’. Ably assisted by accompanist Richard Shaw, the course will focus on how composers blend words and music. Can a foreign language be made ‘less foreign’ by exploring the meaning of the text itself by considering how the words and music interact? Guaranteed enlightenment – guaranteed fun!

You can view all of our Singing Courses in One Place – here

April2014lowPianists have the opportunity to work with two talented tutors over the next few months. Firstly we are delighted to welcome Penelope Roskell to Jackdaws for her first course here ‘Towards Effortless Piano Playing’. Penelope’s approach to preparation for concerts, competitions and auditions should help any for whom confidence is a consideration. Discussion and the exchange of ideas will be positively encouraged!

Lauretta Bloomer encourages pianists to consider the wide variety of repertoire by “Women Composers for Piano”. While standard repertoire will be used for interpretation and technique, the course will draw attention to the wide variety of pieces written by women, a genre which, undeservedly, is often neglected and seldom performed. Participants are encouraged to bring at least one piece by a female composer to play during the workshop, perhaps something by the wonderfully talented Clara Schumann, maybe Mendelssohn’s beloved sister, Fanny Hensel whom he greatly admired or even someone else?

You can view all of our Piano Courses in One Place – here

If Clarinets are your passion, you could join David Campbell at Jackdaws in March for a weekend of clarinet celebration! David is the Chair of the Clarinet and Saxophone Society GB, and plans a full weekend; the Friday session is dedicated to clarinet choir, and quartets will be the focus on the Saturday morning. You will be joined on Saturday afternoon by an accompanist for a masterclass session, and Sunday will comprise of another choir session and more solos before ending with an informal concert.

So, why not join us on a Jackdaws course this Spring and see where you could leap?

2014 – Year in Review

2014 – Year in Review

The year 2014 at Jackdaws was a continuation and building upon the successes of 2013.

We have grown the OperaPLUS, Year of Guitar, Jack’s Music Club and continued to build on the success of previous years of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards, Gifted & Talented sessions, Summer Production and more. Read on…

OperaPLUS

OperaPLUS 2014The first major education project of our year took place between 28 April and 9 May. A team of Young Artists from various music colleges around the country worked with Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg and Music Director Audrey Hyland to put on two semi-staged performances of Rossini’s Barber of Seville. But, we are Jackdaws, and we like to do things a little differently…

Rossini’s reworked Stylist of Somerset was sung in English and involved no less than six schools over the two performances. The first performance, in Bridgwater, saw the Robert Blake Science College, Elmwood SEN and Penrose schools performing the chorus roles to a packed hall. This performance included an exciting depiction of a thunderstorm by the Elmwood pupils – an OperaPLUS first!

The second performance, at the Cheese & Grain in Frome, was to the largest audience ever for our OperaPLUS (we sold out, and then some!) Featuring Critchill SEN, St John’s and Hayesdown First schools, the Stylist of Somerset created a storm of its own, playing to audience who were happy to stand just to see it after the venue had sold out of chairs!

In 2015, The Stylist of Somerset will be hopping on a tour bus and performing a number of shows across region! This is a new adventure for the OperaPLUS project and Jackdaws as a whole. We are already hard at work to make sure it is a success; look out for the dates soon, we’d love you to join us.

Year of Guitar

Year of Guitar with Eden StellThe Year of Guitar followed from the hugely successful Year of the String Quartet with the Carducci in 2013 and precedes 2015’s Year of Percussion with Joby Burgess. Once again, every school in Frome took part with a record number of children participating.

On Friday 6 June, the massed ensemble of children from local schools with whom the Eden Stell Guitar Duo had worked met with the Duo again for a fantastic hour long performance at the Cheese & Grain. This year, Year of… was extended when we took a group of Frome College pupils to perform with Mark & Chris at the Sound Foundation Somerset Music Festival in Taunton on Sunday 13 July, and then again the next week at Later… with Frome College!

The Eden Stell Duo have been coming to Jackdaws to lead their annual Guitar weekend course since Jackdaws’ humble beginnings over 20 years ago. What a pleasure it was to celebrate their 25th anniversary with them in 2014 with this wonderful project. Heading into 2015, their course is an extra day longer than it has been before and has already sold out!

In 2015, the phenomenal Joby Burgess joins us for Year of Percussion and we are delighted to have already filled all the school places. For Year of Percussion, we are extending beyond Frome further into Somerset. More details will be released soon.

Jack’s and Theory Club

Jacks Music Club at JackdawsOur weekly music club has been running for a few years now but for the start of the 2014-15 academic year we added a new twist. Following from the 4:30-6pm music club is a new Theory club, led by Jackdaws team member Joshua Bishop. Each week he has covered a different aspect of music theory with the group using games, drawing and performing. We write music, we play music, we understand music.

If you’re amazed that teenagers would come of their own accord to a music theory club (on a Friday evening no less!), we are happy to reveal this top secret industry tip… provide cake from famous Jackdaws cooks!

Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards

Maureen Lehane Vocal Award Winners 2014The 2014 Maureen Lehane Vocal Award was the most closely contested competition of recent years. Ultimately, 25 year old Counter Tenor Patrick Terry triumphed.

Patrick, originally from Minneapolis, is pursuing his Master’s at the Royal Academy of Music with Michael Chance and is the only Counter Tenor to have won the Maureen Lahane.

We were privileged to have a distinguished judging panel consisting of Dame Felicity Palmer, Andrew Shore and Simon Lepper, chaired by Jackdaws Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg.

Further to these successes, our Summer Production sold out both participants and the final performance, and produced a wonderful show of Animal Farm, with music in the style of Lutoslawski and design inspired by artist Gary Bunt. Our Christmas Concert sold out and was recorded with highlights broadcast on Christmas day by our friends at FromeFM. Gifted and Talented workshops also continued throughout the year, as did Singing Skills and Twilight Sessions.

After a restful holiday, we’re ready to go again. Roll on 2015 – we’ve got so much more to do!

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