Articles tagged with: Caecilia Andriessen

2016 – A Year in Review

2016 – A Year in Review

2016 – what a year it was. We say it every year, but this one really was the busiest we’ve ever known in Great Elm. We welcomed 400 participants on our weekend courses, a third of whom were new to Jackdaws; we delivered award-winning projects across Somerset and appointed our first ever Artists in Residence – the VIDA Guitar Quartet.

Our Projects

Credit Music Teacher Awards 2016

L to R: Margherita Taylor (Classic FM Presenter), René Bloice-Sanders (Company Member), Audrey Hyland (Music Director), Saffron van Zwanenberg (Director) and Sam Taylor (Classic FM Managing Editor). Credit: Music Teacher Awards 2016

The first success of the year was in February, when we attended the Gala Dinner of the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence, as our large-scale project OperaPLUS had been nominated for the Best Classical Music Education Initiative of 2015. We were absolutely delighted to hear OperaPLUS announced as the winners by Margherita Taylor, presenter on ClassicFM, who sponsored the prize. The 2016 OperaPLUS project was then a huge success in April; Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg directed five fun-filled performances of Donizetti’s The Love Potion with 18 schools across Somerset packed with acting, singing and segways!

On Tuesday 22 March, the Gelachter Wind Trio performed alongside over 100 children from 12 schools across Somerset in the Grand Finale concert of the Year of the Reed project at the Cheese & Grain Frome. They performed arrangements of music by composers from Duke Ellington to Tchaikovsky interspersed with performances from the Gelachter Trio in the hour long concert.

Song Story 2016 was an exciting and fresh look at Vivaldi’s famous Four Seasons concertos. Composer William Carslake, together with Violinist Flora Curzon and Jackdaws Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg investigated this work with four SEN Somerset schools – Elmwood, Avalon, Critchill and Selworthy. Each school focused on one season, working with the team and using the sonnets which inspired Vivaldi’s original composition, to create their own music and play and sing along with Vivaldi’s original score. There was a spectacular final performance of “Saving Earth” on Wednesday 29 June at Elmwood & Robert Blake Science College, Bridgwater. The students updated the story to tell of the fight against global warming and how we are saving earth from mankind’s thoughtlessness; a modern retelling which was really effective. It was a truly joyful experience for all involved.

Since September, Jack’s Music Club has been enjoying a new term of varied experiences and sound worlds. We have a whole new intake of keen young musicians attending each week, who gave two fantastic performances at the Jackdaws Christmas Concert, celebrating Ludwig van Beethoven (the concert happened to take place on 16 December, the maestro’s birthday). Jackdaws is now also an Arts Award centre and Jack’s members have the opportunity to earn a qualification during their usual weekly session.

We have continued to develop our work with the Music Hub for Somerset, taking a very active part in the Singing Strategy for Somerset schools, offering a mixed-programme of teacher training and in-school sessions, and the first Somerset Schools Singing Festival, which took place in the Summer term.

Caecilia AndriessenSaying ‘Vaarwel’

In May, we said a very sad farewell to Caecilia Andriessen, who retired. Caecilia was one of the very first tutors at Jackdaws and has been leading her unique “Pianos for All” ensemble course for the last 21 years, making the trip over from The Hague with several faithful students every year since 1995. The Pianos for All weekend involved groups of pianists playing music arranged for two, three and four pianos! We will miss this very special and joyful part of our annual calendar.

Saying ‘Hello’ to our Artists in Residence

In the Summer, the VIDA Guitar Quartet became the first Jackdaws Artists in Residence. It is the first time that such an appointment has been made by Jackdaws, and we are looking forward to unveiling future plans and discovering how the new relationship will bear fruit.

VIDA Concert at Jackdaws in December 2016VIDA celebrated this announcement with a fundraising concert on Saturday 3 December; their last before heading off on tour to the United States at the beginning of 2017. The concert raised important funds for Jackdaws and was a great treat for the local community.

The VIDA Quartet have a strong association with Jackdaws through the longstanding relationship between two members, Mark Eden and Christopher Stell (who also perform as the Eden Stell Guitar Duo). The Duo have been teaching at Jackdaws for more than 20 years and, as Artists in Residence, the Quartet will be ambassadors for Jackdaws in the UK and around the world.

Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards

Winners of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 216

L to R: Saffron van Zwanenberg, Leo Nicholson (Accomp Prize), Holly Marie Bingham (2nd Prize), Nardus Williams (1st & Audience Prizes), Rosemary Joshua, Sam Carl (3rd Prize), Joan Rodgers, Julian Jacobson

The 2016 Vocal Awards continued with the same high standards set in previous years. This year it was Nardus Williams, a young soprano currently studying at the Guildhall with Yvonne Kenny, who took First Place as well as the Audience Prize. The Judges – Rosemary Joshua, Joan Rodgers, Julian Jacobson, chaired by Saffron van Zwanenberg – were very impressed with her performance.

We are all looking forward to the Vocal Awards 2017, which will be the 25th year of the competition. Keep your eyes peeled for details of how we are going to celebrate this significant milestone, which kickstarts the celebrations for Jackdaws 25th anniversary in 2018.

Two Great Losses

Sadly, we lost two great friends in 2016. The first was very early in the year when we heard of loss of tutor Kenneth van Barthold on 16 February. He was 88 years old and had been giving courses at Jackdaws for many years. An exceptional man, his obituary in the Telegraph shows just how respected he was.

sarah-wheeler-at-maureen-memorial-concertThen, in April, we received news that a long-time supporter of Jackdaws, Sarah Wheeler, had also passed away. She was a supporter of Jackdaws from the beginning, and a long time friend of Maureen. Sarah led the fundraising campaign that allowed us to buy our building, and when Maureen passed away in 2010, it was she who helped to organise the concert in her memory. She was a great lover of art and music and was a passionate believer in the healing power of both. As a result, she founded the Mental Fight Club and later the Dragon Cafe to share the benefit of both with others. She will be very sadly missed in Great Elm.

New Technology

We ended the year by releasing a video about our weekend courses. Produced by Tambrisk pictures, the four-minute video showcases our facilities and surroundings whilst answering questions a new-comer might have about their first visit to a Jackdaws music course. Watch the video here…

The Staff and Trustsees at Jackdaws want to thank all friends, supporters, colleagues and organisations who have helped us this year including;
Angus Allnatt Charitable Foundation, Rosemary Bugden Trust, the Mercers’ Trust, the Mackintosh Foundation, Frome Voices, Cooper Hall Foundation.

Grants were also received from a number of local councils and funding bodies;
Arts Council England, Sound Foundation Somerset, Frome Town Council, South Somerset District Council.

We are also extremely grateful to the number of individuals who have made donations both large and small, and to Friends of Jackdaws, whose regular contributions ensure that Jackdaws can continue to facilitate the joy of music participation for everyone.

If you would like to make a donation to Jackdaws, you can do so by becoming a Friend, or making a one-off donation. For more information read Supporting Jackdaws.

Dutch Piano Pedagogue Caecilia Andriessen returns to the UK for the final time

Dutch Piano Pedagogue Caecilia Andriessen returns to the UK for the final time

Caecilia AndriessenIn 1995, Dutch pianist Caecilia Andriessen came to Jackdaws in Somerset with a new idea for a music course. A piano ensemble course. Maureen Lehane, Jackdaws founder and then Artistic Director, was intrigued to find out exactly what she meant.

Caecilia Andriessen is known in her native Netherlands for her unusual brand of piano ensembles – that is, multiple people at multiple pianos playing together in the same way that string or wind players might. She didn’t invent the genre – with composers such as Liszt also writing for groups of pianists – but Caecilia Andriessen is known worldwide for being one of the largest advocates of this type of pianism. Her arrangements and publications, not to mention performances, are praised for their style, charm and individual ambition; one book of arrangements Spelen met Liszt “Playing with Liszt” is for 5 pianos played by 15 pianists (or multiples thereof)!

Back in 1995, Caecilia Andriessen arrived at Jackdaws, bringing a few Dutch friends and pupils with her, with the remainder of the course places taken by musicians from the local area. They played music by Bach, Mendelssohn and others… all with the little twist that she had arranged all the music herself for multiple pianos playing simultaneously.

Piano Ensembles at Jackdaws with Caecilia AndriessenThe course sees pianists playing in ensembles just like string or wind players might. This does not mean four players at one piano, it means four players at four pianos – each pianist with their own full part. They play music from the 17th to the 21st centuries, either composed or arranged for piano ensemble by the tutor. The course in 1995 was a huge success and Maureen Lehane had invited the new tutor back the following year before she had even left.

Jackdaws has developed a great deal since 1995; it now approaches its 25th anniversary and is under the direction of Saffron van Zwanenberg, but the Piano Ensemble course still runs every year.

On Friday 27 May, Caecilia Andriessen will begin her Pianos for All weekend for the 21st and final time. Starting the course with her will be one particular participant, her student Paul Kocken, who has made the trip over from The Hague to Great Elm with her every year since 1995. He says,

Pianos for All weekend course with Caecilia Andriessen at Jackdaws“Caecilia is a wonderful teacher with a lot of experience teaching groups of twelve people playing four pianos together. You can imagine that this asks a lot of her teaching skills to have four pianists playing one piece. She arranges existing music for pianos or even string quartets for a combination of two or three pianos. We practice mostly at home a modern piece and an older one that Caecilia has arranged that year. For example, a piece of Lutosławski and Bach. By doing so we can play difficult pieces.

“She likes to tell little anecdotes and stories she has experienced in her musical life. All course members like the relaxed atmosphere of Jackdaws; the hospitality of the Great Elm community that gives the music students a warm welcome every year is heart warming.”

Over the 20 years, Caecilia Andriessen and Jackdaws have got the course just right. It has become an institution and the attendees have become friends outside the course as well.  In 2015, when regular participant Tanya had to break the sad news that Irene Hessel – another of the regulars who made the annual trip to Somerset from The Hague – had passed away from cancer at the age of 45, the news affected everyone. Tanya and Caecilia were at the funeral and said their farewell by playing four-hand piano music just as they had done with Irene.

On Pianos for All this year, we plan a celebration to mark over 20 years of joyous music making at Jackdaws. An occasion to reflect on the power of the music, and the friendships which have developed as a result.
Hard at work

Caecilia Andriessen announces final Jackdaws course

Caecilia Andriessen announces final Jackdaws course

Last year, we celebrated 20 years of Caecilia Andriessen‘s unique piano ensemble weekend course, Pianos for All, at Jackdaws. We are deeply sorry to say Caecilia has announced that her Pianos for All’ weekend this May will be her last course in Great Elm.

Jackdaws Tutor Caecilia AndriessenDutch Pianist Caecilia Andriessen, 85, started playing duets with her brother Louis and has gone on to make music with more and more hands at the piano. Her annual course, Pianos for All, has been running since the early days of Jackdaws when she was personally invited by founder Maureen Lehane to bring her unusual brand of piano course to Great Elm.

Each year, her course brings new and old favourite melodies arranged for two, three and four pianists on the same number of pianos. Using her own arrangements of repertoire from Bach to Schumann to contemporary composers, she was one of the first teachers to develop a method for teaching music for multiple pianists.

Caecilia studied piano at the Royal Conservatorium at The Hague and then in Italy with a scholarship from the Italian government. She taught at the Institute of Musical Education at Rotterdam and is much sought after as a lecturer on group-teaching (four pupils on four pianos) and other musical subjects. Her compositions and arrangements for two and three pianos have been published by Uitgeverij Harmonia, Loosdrecht.

Her 21st course, will be her final Jackdaws weekend. We want to say thank you and invite you to be a part of the farewell.

Caecilia Andriessen at JackdawsPianos for All
27 – 29 May 2016
Level: Intermediate
Fee: £200
B&B available
Book now

Pianos for All runs for the final time in May 2016. There are just a few places remaining.

Jackdaws voted Second in UK Piano Course Rankings

Popular piano blogger Frances Wilson – the Cross-Eyed Pianist – asked her readers to rate their favourite Piano courses and Jackdaws came second place on the competitive list.

We were delighted to read this news as Jackdaws courses are a unique resource for musicians of abilities.

Philip Fowke at JackdawsThe survey also revealed the reasons people come on courses like ours. At the top of the list was the the opportunity to work with leading teachers, something Jackdaws offers at every weekend course, and to gain “useful, critical feedback”.

Survey answers concluded that people enjoyed the social element of meeting other pianists, as well as the opportunity to play in front of others in a non-competitive environment. A further bonus was the chance to focus on their piano playing “without having to deal with cooking or family matters”.

Jackdaws piano courses run on weekends throughout the year and are taught by leading pianists such as Mark Tanner, Philip Fowke, Graham Fitch, Margaret Fingerhut and Melanie Spanswick. Courses are limited to ten participants to ensure all musicians get a fair share of the tutor’s time, with all meals provided on site by our renowned cooks Alex and Loo.

Read the full article on The Cross-Eyed Pianist.

Jackdaws Tutor Julian Jacobson