Archive for April 2016

Julian Jacobson sharpens up your Chopin

Julian Jacobson sharpens up your Chopin

The magic of Chopin’s music is still as potent as ever, even more than 260 years after his death. No notes feel so grateful under the pianist’s fingers yet require such great subtlety, delicacy, fire and virtuosity to make their full effect. Sharpen up your Chopin offers the opportunity for pianists to explore this unique composer through his music, under the expert guidance of Royal College of Music professor Julian Jacobson.

Frederic ChopinSimplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.

– Frederic Chopin

His is music has such immediacy, with the delicate interplay of melody and accompaniment so carefully arranged. The titles, descriptive rather than poetic, reveal nothing of the glorious music they contain. Jackdaws Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg, said “Chopin’s music is so powerful and worthy of further exploration that a weekend devoted to it is long over due“.

Choosing Your Repertoire

Julian has led courses at Jackdaws for a most of its history. He suggests each participant bring two of their favourite pieces from Chopin’s huge ouvre. Of course, he is happy to assist with selection of repertoire at a suitable level of difficulty, and has written a one page guide giving approximate difficulties of Chopin’s most popular pieces.

Regarding what “stage” the pieces should be at, Julian says, ‘it’s nice if one of them represents what the participant feels is a fairly finished performance; maybe something they will have already played in public or performed for friends, and the other is more “work in progress” that the participant feels I can help with.’

We understand that each participant is different and if your two pieces are both further along the road that’s also fine; it’s best if the music is reasonably well prepared and this is more significant than the overall difficulty of the piece. Julian adds ‘The main thing is not to stress about how “good” the pieces will be, while hopefully doing one’s best to get them into reasonable shape for working on in the class!’

Finally, consider the size and length of the pieces. If you bring short pieces, Preludes for instance, we might find time to work on three or even four. Compare this with the complexity of a major work such as the 4th Ballade; this piece alone would be enough for an entire course. Assuming they will be short, but not too short pieces, two is perfect.

Julian was Head of Keyboard Studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music and is now a professor at the Royal College of Music and Birmingham Conservatoire, and a Guest Professor at Xiamen University China. He gives masterclasses internationally and is a Diploma Examiner for ABRSM.

Sharpen Up Your Chopin
with Julian Jacobson
Friday 1 – Sunday 3 July 2016
Level: Advanced
Fee: £200
B&B: Available
Book now

OperaPLUS – The Love Potion

OperaPLUS – The Love Potion

Award winning Education project, Jackdaws OperaPLUS, returns with a production of Donizetti’s The Love Potion (L’elisir d’amore), a comic tale of unrequited love set in the heartland of Somerset.

Featuring 18 Somerset schools performing alongside the professional cast in 5 performances at venues across the county.

Music Teacher Awards OperaPLUSPerformances
21 & 22 April: Holyrood School, Chard
27 & 28 April: The Blue School, Wells
29 April: Cheese & Grain, Frome

All performances start at 5:30pm

Tickets available on the door (and in advance from the Cheese & Grain for the 29th), priced between £2 – £5.

English translation by Arthur Jacobs (copyright Ricordi).

If you are a school looking for the resources page, you will find it here.

Love Potion is Generously supported by Arts Council England, Sound Foundation Somerset, Frome Town Council and South Somerset District Council