Articles tagged with: Jackdaws Education

OperaPLUS: Where are they now?

OperaPLUS: Where are they now?

Guest post from Thomas Elwin

Ten minute read.

It is just over nine years since I took part in the Jackdaws OperaPLUS project, which in 2011 was Così fan tutte. An intense, extremely busy, and fun filled week. I have very fond memories of my time down there at Jackdaws, working with Saffron and Audrey, my course colleagues, time spent with school children with special needs, and then the performances in the Cheese and Grain of course.

It says a lot for the pull that Jackdaws has that so many from that Così cast have gone on to work in Opera at the highest level. Hannah Sawle (Fiordiligi), Clare Presland (Dorabella), Hannah Bradbury (Despina) and Tim Nelson (Don Alfonso) have all gone on to perform major roles at top Opera houses across Europe, while Sam Queen (Guglielmo) is rapidly developing as one of the go-to singing teachers in the UK (he will be returning to Jackdaws in 2020/21 to run a course).

My own journey since that week has been extremely varied and wide ranging, taking me to opera houses and concerts halls across the UK and Europe, with some incredible highs, and one or two quite significant lows.

At the time of my OperaPLUS course I was just about to finish my vocal studies masters, and about to go on to the Opera Course at the Royal Academy of Music. It was the ideal time to do such a course. For all the lessons, coachings and classes one has as a trainee singer, the opportunities to actually perform full operatic roles are like gold dust and should be jumped at. At this stage, despite being about to go on to specific opera studies, I was very new to opera so this was ideal preparation for the next stage of my development.

In September 2011 I started the Opera course at RAM, and it went off without a hitch. On it I sang a few more complete roles, including another Mozart opera, Tamino in The Magic Flute, and I also sang a role in one of the British Youth Opera productions, in their 2012 season, and continued to listen out for opportunities elsewhere, and consider what step to take next. At the beginning of the new academic year 2012/13, I auditioned successfully to join the chorus at Glyndebourne for my summer after graduation. Then an agent from Germany came to the autumn term Opera, in November 2012, and suggested I might audition for young artist programmes at German Opera houses. This was not something I had considered at all, but I asked a few people about it and then ended up flying to Hannover in January 2013 to audition. It was a very mixed audition, and a mildly terrifying experience – my first audition abroad – but on the back of the opportunity I decided to apply to other ‘YAPs’ (Young Artist Programmes) and soon after I got home from Hannover I was invited to audition in Munich.

What happened next is the first of a few sliding doors moments. After a busy day of rehearsals and lessons at the Royal Academy, in cold January of 2013, I did the same journey home that I had done so many times before. I walked from the academy to the tube, took the Met line to Liverpool St, mainline from there to Manor Park, and a 10 minute walk on the road through Wanstead Flats (a park for those who don’t know it) to my home. Only on this occasion I was followed from Manor Park, and half way along the road through the flats was invited to give my phone and money to two young men carrying knives.
Inevitably I was upset and shaken by the experience of being mugged. It was annoying to lose my phone, and the money, but I was unhurt physically – so I thought.

I flew to Germany again and sang ok in Munich, they decided not to put me through to the next round. Meanwhile I had turned down the place in Hannover because it didn’t feel quite right and the mini German exploration had come to nothing. As a result I applied to the National Opera Studio in London who had auditions a couple of months later.

Over these couple of months my voice didn’t feel right. Slowly and surely parts of my voice that I could rely on were becoming inconsistent. I didn’t think much of it. My final opera at the Academy was a small and easy sing in Eugene Onegin, which would be followed by a few weeks break before heading to Lewes and Glyndebourne in April 2013. I applied to take part in the Kathleen Ferrier competition and was excited for this and the Opera Studio audition. By the time these came about my singing was even more inconsistent, and despite getting through the first round of the Opera studio auditions, both the main audition there and the Ferrier first round were a real struggle.

This was the beginning of April 2013, and on the 6th of April I woke up with no singing voice.
I cancelled some concerts I had that weekend, and just assumed I had a virus or the flu. Yet by the time I had been at Glyndebourne for a month and my voice was still not back I started to really worry. My GP was quite dismissive, nothing that they could see. Then two ENT specialists saw a little inflammation but no real reason to worry or have voice loss. Finally, at the end of June, three months of being mute into a 5 month chorus contract I had been so looking forward to, I had an appointment with an osteopath who had saved me a few years earlier after a car accident.

Within the first minute Michael, my osteo, could tell there were problems. To cut a long story short, it turned out that my physical reaction to being mugged was similar to that of a car crash. The muscles around my neck, shoulders and chest were all extremely tense and locked and Michael was surprised that I could sing at all those initial few months.

I was hugely relieved to have found the cause of my vocal issues, though upset not to have realised earlier and therefore gone into important situations like the Munich, the National Opera Studio, and the Kathleen Ferrier competition auditions without realising that I was fighting a physical battle with myself. Following six months of vocal decline, and accompanying mental struggles, I could now see a way forward. In short, I had to relearn how to use my voice. I had a course of speech therapy with an incredible lady called Maggie Griffith, had an intense period of singing lessons with my teacher at the time, Gary Coward, and had regular osteopathy sessions with Michael.

The summer of 2013 having been a complete write-off, I went into the first year of post studies life without any work at all. I had had to postpone all auditions from April onwards, and was only just emerging into a place where I could use my voice again. I started working at a local restaurant where I lived, I also began teaching piano and singing at a local music school, and spent the rest of the time focusing on getting my voice into shape. I could easily have given up at this point but I had put a huge amount of time, effort, and money into getting my voice back and instead of wanting to stop I had a newly honed focus that had been missing before my voice loss. So I applied for YAPs again, in the UK and in Germany. I tried to run before I could walk and initial auditions were not successful, but in January 2014 I sang to the audition panel at the opera house in Stuttgart and got through to the second round on the day. A success! I returned home and waited to hear more. And waited… and waited. I applied again to the National Opera Studio, and then with nothing coming from Stuttgart, decided to apply for other work.

By the time, two months later, that Stuttgart offered me a further audition I was moments from accepting a job in London. But decided to give Stuttgart a go. The panel in Stuttgart were confused when they heard me, there had been such an improvement in two months. I explained a little about my voice loss, and the fact they were hearing a 5 month voice, rather than a 3 month voice, and they decided to take me onto their programme. YAY!

I can pinpoint the decision to join the Stuttgart Opera as the start of my career proper.
Soon after accepting my place in Stuttgart, I was offered a place on two courses with the Solti Accademia Bel Canto. Firstly a week in Venice on their course for pianists, on which six singers are used a guinea pigs. Then on their course for singers in Tuscany in July, working with some of the best coaches and singers for a few weeks in the Italian sun. Not a difficult time.

Stuttgart turned out to be the making of me. Over my year as a young artist I performed in seven different productions, and over 50 nights on the stage. I sang small and medium roles in German, Italian, French and Russian and just loved the life of working in a full time opera company. The years real highlight came in my last couple of months, when I was covering/understudying the role of Ferrando in Così fan tutte. (Having sung it at Jackdaws in English the music was all there but I needed to fill in the words with the Italian.) I was just in the right place at the right time as the person I was covering ended up being sick for the last two performances and I got the call. Out of seeming despair and the end of a career before it had even started in the summer of 2013, I was now, less than two years later, singing one of the major Tenor roles on stage in a major European opera house.

I owe a lot to the people in Stuttgart, not least the head of the Opera studio there at the time, Bettina Giese, and I was very grateful that at the end of my year in the studio they kept me on a half fixed contract for another season. This meant that I would do a three productions in Stuttgart in the 2015/16 season, two I had done the previous season and one new one, but also allowed me to work elsewhere and I was thrilled to be able to sing the role of Belmonte in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail for the first time, in a new production in Bregenz, Austria. So in addition for 5 months in Stuttgart, I spent a lovely three wintery months in Bregenz, on the edge of Lake Constance and the Alps. Such a beautiful part of the world. It was also conveniently placed, a four hour train journey away, for me to step in last minute for a few more performances of Così fan tutte at Stuttgart, who then offered me my own performances for the following season.

Around this time I picked up an agent, Jonathan Groves and Helen Hogh at Ingpen and Williams (which soon became Groves Artists), and through them auditioned for English National Opera in summer 2016. Having developed my career away from the UK for two years I was glad that ENO asked me to cover Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni for a new production in autumn 2016. Before this came around, I ended up singing Così fan tutte once more, in the UK and France with Diva Opera, by this point singing Ferrando in Così was almost second nature. At ENO for the Don Giovanni I was covering Allan Clayton, a singer I have always admired and looked up to, and it was great to be working in London. To top it off, Allan was unfortunately taken sick for a few days during the run and I stepped in for two performances, making my London professional operatic debut and receiving a glowing review in Opera magazine for it. An unexpectedly positive start to the 2016/17 season. This was soon followed by my first studio recording as a tenor soloist, singing the role of Alfred in The Mountebanks with the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by John Andrews.

Tom Elwin in the Il ritorno d'Ulisse with Grange Festival

Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (The Grange Festival)
© Robert Workman

The 2016/17 season then became the year of the ‘jump in’, as I found myself stepping in last minute for the whole run of, you guessed it, Così fan tutte with a company called Teatro Barocco. Having received the call just five days before their opening night, I flew out to Vienna and speed learned the production before seven performances in the theatre at the Schloss Laxenburg, a venue used by Mozart himself and an incredible experience. Being in Vienna, and singing Mozart there, was a career highlight and on the back on the contract I was invited back for a production the following season, in early 2018. I went from Vienna directly to Stuttgart, for the production of Così fan tutte I had been booked for a year beforehand, and while I was there I was asked to step in as Telemaco in the new Grange Festival’s first show, The Return of Ulysess, with rehearsals starting just after the end of my Stuttgart contract.

I still remember Jackdaws very fondly, and genuinely consider many of the things I learnt in that week to have been hugely beneficial

Having sung mostly Mozart for much of 2015/16 and early 2017 it was fun to explore Monteverdi for a few months, and also to perform in an English summer opera festival. I was then thrilled to sing my first BBC Prom concert later in the summer but having gone from contract to contract since starting in Stuttgart in September 2014, I was glad for a little time off in the autumn of 2017.

Time off for freelancers is a difficult thing to come to terms with sometimes. It means we don’t have income… but on this occasion it was a much needed break and I knew that I had my contract back in Vienna in early 2018, and also a few performances with the Classical Opera Company who had made me as associate artist for the season.

Sadly, for various reasons, the contract in Vienna did not work out and I was out of pocket by quite a lot of money. Despite working almost non stop for three years up to that point, much of the income had been young artist level fees and I was in no position to lose out on that sort of money. The cancellation really knocked me sideways. My agent managed to get me a little work to fill the time, covering again at ENO in early 2018, but the income lost was never replaced and I have felt that ever since.

Not only did the financial hit affect me, but I slightly lost confidence at this moment too. I didn’t want to be covering, and losing the chance to sing a role again in Vienna felt like a slight on me – though it wasn’t of course. I suspect this confidence loss was felt by audition panels, and I just lost out on a few jobs after this.

It came as a relief then to be invited back to Bregenz again, where I was to sing Jaquino in Fidelio in early 2019, and soon after getting this news I successfully auditioned to be part of Barbara Hannigan’s Equilibrium Young Artist initiative, a mentoring programme including well paid performance opportunities with Barbara conducting.

The Bregenz experience was a slight disappointment compared to the first time there. A number of things contributed to this. The first time I was there the cast were more sociable, and there were more English speakers. It was also a bigger role, a role I enjoyed more and the apartment I was in the first time was better placed for the lake and mountains and the town centre. I left Bregenz the second time slightly less in love with the town than I was the first, and went directly to Munich for two Mozart requiem concerts with the Munich Philharmonic and Barbara Hannigan. This turned out to be a genuine career highlight, something I will always remember.

My final contract of the 2018/19 season was singing the role of Sam Kaplan in Street Scene at the opera in Cologne. Street Scene has a huge cast, and this was a wonderful production with some great colleagues both on and behind the stage. Cologne is a really great city to be in and I was living quite centrally for two months. Yet, with Bregenz running into Munich running into Cologne, I hadn’t really been home for most of the first 6 months of 2019, so was glad for a few months at home that summer.

A few months at home turned into singing the role of Nemorino in The Elixir of Love for a new opera company, Into Opera, set up by a friend I had met at the Grange Festival. I actually sent an abysmal audition tape over from Cologne, but thankfully the conductor for the production was John Andrews who already knew my singing from the recording I had done with him in 2017. We performed the show in a Barn just outside Norwich, to 150 very willing audience members a night. A lovely team of people again and a good end to the 2018/19 season.

ETO Cosi fan tutte Tom Elwin

ETO Spring 2020 Così fan tutte
© Richard Hubert Smith

Which brings me onto this season… 2019/20. A lighter autumn saw me spending a few days in Venice performing at an Opera Gala, and a couple of weeks in Brussels workshopping new productions of the Da Ponte/Mozart operas. I sang my first, and a week later second, Verdi Requiem and then stepped in very last minute to sing Finzi’s Dies Natalis live on BBC Radio 3 from Maida Vale, with the BBC Concert Orchestra. The main contract for the season though came in the spring of this year, with the English Touring Opera tour of Così fan tutte (yes… that one again) and Bach’s St. John Passion.

Many things attracted me to a tour with ETO. Not least the chance to perform so many times all around the country. So it was a real sadness when the tour was cancelled after just two venues. I have had my ups and downs career wise, and I know we will all come out of the pandemic at some point. Life will continue, music and art will continue and thrive. But it hasn’t felt easy and I would be lying if I didn’t admit to having significant career doubts over these months.

ETO Spring 2020 St John Passion
© Andreas Grieger

Happily, there seem to be shoots of hope within the industry and I am hopeful for some performances in the near future. I have enjoyed the time at home with my wife and our dog. I have also enjoyed the time to focus on my singing practise and also get fit, but I will jump at the chance to sing on stage again.

I still remember Jackdaws very fondly, and genuinely consider many of the things I learnt in that week to have been hugely beneficial over the following nine years of my burgeoning career.

Jack’s Music Club restarts 25 September

Jack’s Music Club restarts 25 September

We are delighted to announce that Jack’s Music Club will return for a new term at Jackdaws with in person sessions starting Friday 25 September.

There will, of course, be a few changes to adapt to the changed situation and help keep everybody safe. Please read the important information below.

COVID SECURE

  • Visit England - We're Good to Go LogoSessions are limited to 8 attendees; please pay in advance for the term (dates below; Please email us to confirm space).
  • New timing of 4:30 – 5:45pm to allow Jacks attendees to leave before weekend course participants arrive
  • Parents should remain in their cars for drop off and collection to avoid people gathering while waiting
  • Cash is no longer accepted; please book and pay in advance
  • Please bring your own drink and music stand. There can be no sharing of instruments in the session
  • Masks not obligatory but wear if you prefer
  • Hand washing is required of all attendees and tutors before and after sessions
  • Please do not come to Music Club if you have or have been in contact with anyone with symptoms or a confirmed infection of Covid-19

Jack’s Sessions this Term:
25 Sept – Welcome back!
2 Oct
9 Oct
16 Oct
23 Oct
£2.50 per session; Please email us to book a space

Subscribe to the Jack’s Mailing List for the most up-to-date information on Music Club

e-Song Club starts Friday 15 May

e-Song Club starts Friday 15 May

The first Jackdaws e-Song Club starts at 10am on Friday 15 May!

Our e-Piano Club, run by one of our volunteers, has been a huge success so we thought it might be something our singers would like to try as well.

Join for free by dialling in over Zoom every Friday morning at 10am for one hour. Meet and chat to other singers in a supportive, supervised setting, and, if you would like to (no requirement to do so!), sing a piece to the group. Give your practice a focus and carry on honing performance skills.

Sing unaccompanied or with a backing track. We can also put you in touch with one of our accompanists, Nigel Foster, if you would like to buy a backing track (costs start at £30 per song but may be more depending on length and complexity).

Please view our e-Club Guidance and Safeguarding before participating.

Donate via PayPalOur e-Song Club is free to attend, but if you would like to donate £5 to help keep Jackdaws going at the time of great uncertainty, you can do so on PayPal.

Subscribe to the mailing list to receive details of the next meeting:

Jackdaws will never share your information with third parties, in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Year of Bassoon with the Genovia Quartet

Year of Bassoon with the Genovia Quartet

Genovia at Old Cleeve School

For the past week, Jackdaws have been on the road with the Genovia Bassoon Quartet visiting schools and music groups across the whole of Somerset. The four Bassoonists, who are based in Glasgow and have travelled to Somerset for the project, are giving a whole-school concert at every school, and workshops for smaller groups of instrumental players. Players from the workshops will all come together in March and perform en masse at the Grand Finale Concert alongside Genovia at Frome’s Cheese & Grain.

6 days, 19 concerts in schools, over 200 children in workshops, and 4 bassoons!

Genovia Quartet said, “We are so grateful to Jackdaws for inviting us to be a part of The Year of Bassoon 2020. We have been fortunate to work with hundreds of talented young musicians from groups of 30 ukeleles to string sections, brass bands and percussion ensembles. It has been a real privilege to introduce the bassoon to so many through interactive music making and fun activities, and we hope we have inspired them as much as they have us.

“We are so looking forward to returning on 24 March for our Grand Finale Performance at the Cheese & Grain! Thank you to Jackdaws and all of Somerset for making Genovia Quartet feel so welcome!”

The Genovia Bassoon QuartetJackdaws award-winning project, The Year of… is now in its eighth year, and introduces children to a different instrument or chamber ensemble each time. Starting in 2012 with the Carducci String Quartet, we have also worked with percussionist Joby Burgess, the Onyx Brass Quintet, the Eden Stell Guitar Duo and international recorder virtuosos Anna Stegmann and Tabea Debus.

In 2017, the project was named the Best Classical Music Education Initiative by the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence.

The Genovia Quartet is a dynamic young bassoon ensemble formed of four graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. From their first performance together in 2015, this quartet has had a strong musical bond and close friendship which translates into exciting and spirited performances. Their desire to share their fun together with their audiences is obvious and is helping the group establish its reputation both in the UK and abroad.

Sound Foundation Somerset LogoThe Year of Bassoon is sponsored by Sound Foundation Somerset.

Building Blog – Part Three

Building Blog – Part Three

With just a short pause for a break over Christmas, progress on the new Jackdaws studio has taken a huge step forward since our last update in October.

Outside, the roof tiles, windows and doors have transformed the façade. Meanwhile, work inside continues to create a superb new studio with large, bi-fold doors opening out on to the rose garden which can now be appreciated more fully. The underfloor heating makes this space extremely pleasant to work in on these cold frosty days.

Now that the weekend courses have resumed after the Christmas break, our builder Paul’s final job each Friday afternoon is to ensure the site is ready for the arrival of our participants. Courses have continued to run throughout the development and we are keen to move our courses into the new studio as soon as possible.

We are still fundraising for the studio, to help with furnishing and equipment, and there is time yet to have your donation recognised on the special 20Jackdaws wall-mounted display which will feature in the new building. The commission will celebrate and thank all our supporters who have contributed to the project since its inception in 2012. Your donations are as important to us now as they were then, and we rely on them to keep progress moving.

If you wish to add your name to our list of supporters, there are a number of ways you can do so – get in touch with us and let us know how you would like to help.

NewStudio

Autumn One Day Courses at Jackdaws

Autumn One Day Courses at Jackdaws

One Day Courses are your chance to learn from the expertise of our world-class tutors who visit Jackdaws, and enjoy our delicious home cooked lunches without giving up a whole weekend.

With tuition from 10:30am – 4pm, and a free lunch included, One Day Courses at just £45 are excellent value*.

Autumn at Jackdaws
Understanding Your Voice
with Jessica Walker
Saturday 3 November
To inspire you to take that next step with your singing, we’ll use breathing and vocal exercises to develop a healthy and more secure technique!

Family Singing Afternoon
with Caroline Radcliffe
Sunday 4 November, 2 – 5pm*
Caroline will teach us easy songs from near and far, and we’ll add parts and build harmonies to encompass all ranges and abilities!

“I got the most I could possibly get from a one-day
course and felt it was so worthwhile”

Play the Piano by Ear
with Stephen Marquiss
Sunday 2 December
If you’ve always played from sheet music, you may find you lack the confidence to play by ear. These principles will be widely applicable to any genre and will help you to escape the score!

Heart Song – Healing with the Voice
with Anne Bourne
Saturday 8 December
An introduction to the healing power of your voice, and how it can transform mind, body and spirit. Explore the use of vocal toning, breath work and meditation to access your own resonance.

From Panic to Poise
with Wendy Skeen
Sunday 9 December
Performing music can be a deeply enriching experience, so discover practical strategies to help you enjoy performing and sharing your music-making with others.

*Family Singing Afternoon costs £12 per adult & child pair, (£3 per extra child, £10 per extra adult) Includes tea and cake.

Jackdaws Studio by the River

Booking open for Jackdaws 2018-19 Courses!

Booking open for Jackdaws 2018-19 Courses!

Every year, we announce the more Jackdaws residential Weekend and One Day Courses. We welcome a range of new and returning tutors to our programme to keep our teaching varied, current, and so we can encourage you to try something new and find a new challenge.

We have full weekend courses, running Friday evening until Sunday afternoon; longer Three Day Courses from Thursday to Sunday; and One Day Courses bite-sized introductions to essential topics for all musicians. Some of the wonderful new tutors we welcome this year are Joan Rodgers, Alisdair Hogarth, Isobel Buchanan, Robert Chevara, Madeleine Mitchell and Alison Wells. Follow their links to read their full biographies and course descriptions, booking is now open!

Jackdaws Tutor Jessica Walker

Jessica Walker helps you with “Understanding Your Voice”

One Day Courses
Understanding Your Voice
with Jessica Walker
Saturday 3 November 2018

Family Singing Afternoon
with Caroline Radcliffe
Sunday 4 November 2018

Singing for Health
with Penny Jenkins
Saturday 1 December 2018

Jackdaws Piano Tutor Stephen Marquiss

Stephen Marquiss runs “Play the Piano by Ear”

Play the Piano by Ear
with Stephen Marquiss
Sunday 2 December 2018

Heart Song
with Anne Bourne
Saturday 8 December 2018

From Panic to Pose One Day Course
with Wendy Skeen
Sunday 9 December 2018

Voice Courses
Singing in English
with Adrian Thompson
Fri 21 – Sun 23 September 2018

Jackdaws Tutor Isobel Buchanan

Learn the Art of Bel Canto with Isobel Buchanan

The Art of Bel Canto
with Isobel Buchanan
Fri 19 – Sun 21 October 2018

Audition Preparation Weekend
with Audrey Hyland and Saffron van Zwanenberg
Fri 9 – Sun 11 November 2018

Schubert, Schumann and Wolf
with Joan Rodgers
Fri 23 – Sun 25 November 2018

Jackdaws Tutor Joan Rodgers

Study German Lieder with Joan Rodgers

Art Songs by African-American and Black British Composers
with Michael Harper
Fri 25 – Sun 27 January 2019

Sing Sing Sing
with Evelyn Tubb and Michael Fields
Fri 8 – Sun 10 February 2019

The Singer as Artist
with Alison Wells
Fri 1 – Sun 3 March 2019

English Song Weekend
with Sarah Leonard and Stephen Varcoe
Fri 15 – Sun 17 March 2019

Jackdaws Tutor Richard Jackson

Richard Jackson returns with A Song by Any Other Name

A Song by Any Other Name
with Richard Jackson
Fri 29 – Fri 31 March 2019

The Vocal Technician
with Joy Mammen
Fri 12 – Sun 14 April 2019

Singing Handel
with Rosa Mannion
Fri 10 – Sun 12 May 2019

Jackdaws Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg

Live & Sing your Favourite Opera scenes with Saffron van Zwanenberg and Rosa Mannion

Discover Your Voice
with Penny Jenkins
Fri 21 – Sun 23 June 2019

Staged Opera Scenes
with Saffron van Zwanenberg and Rosa Mannion
Thurs 4 – Sun 7 July 2019
Three Day Course

Summer Singing Workshop
with Jessica Walker
Thurs 8 – Sun 11 August 2019
Three Day Course

Robert Chevara - credit Rikki Beadle-Blair

Robert Chevara and Mary Plazas run Opera Workshop

Opera Workshop
with Mary Plazas and Robert Chevara
Fri 23 – Sun 25 August 2019

Singing in French
with Robin Bowman
Fri 30 August – Sun 1 September 2019

Piano Courses
Finding Your Voice at the Piano
with Stephen Savage
Fri 28 – Sun 30 September 2018

Jackdaws Tutor Elena Riu

Elena Riu returns with New Course “The Embodied Pianist”

The Embodied Pianist: Focus – Release – Tune In
with Elena Riu
Fri 12 – Sun 14 October 2018

Improvisation: An Art for Everyone
with Mark Polishook
Fri 26 – Sun 28 October 2018

Practising the Piano
with Graham Fitch
Fri 16 – Sun 18 November 2018

Polishing Your Piano Technique
with Melanie Spanswick
Fri 18 – Sun 20 January 2019

Jackdaws Tutor Alisdair Hogarth

New Tutor Alisdair Hogarth opens his Piano Toolbox

The Pianist’s Technical Toolbox
with Alisdair Hogarth
Fri 22 – Sun 24 March 2019

Knowing the Score
with Karl Lutchmayer
Fri 26 – Sun 28 April 2019

Becoming a Confident Pianist
with Timothy Barratt
Fri 17 – Sun 19 May 2019

Jackdaws Tutor Mark Tanner

Mark Tanner’s 2 part Piano Summer School

Improvisation: An Art for Everyone
with Mark Polishook
Fri 14 – Sun 16 June 2019

The Art of Pedalling
with Julian Jacobson
Fri 28 – Sun 30 June 2019

Intermediate Piano Summer School
with Mark Tanner
Tues 23 – Thurs 25 July 2019

Anna Stegmann Photo: Marco Borggreve

Anna Stegmann’s Recorder Weekend returns in October

Advanced Piano Summer School
with Mark Tanner
Thurs 25 – Sun 28 July 2019
Three Day Course

Piano Workshop: A New Departure
with Philip Fowke
Fri 13 – Sun 15 September 2019

Wind Courses
Recorder Weekend
with Anna Stegmann
Fri 5 – Sun 7 October 2018

Jackdaws Tutor William Lyons

Discover Renaissance Wind Music with William Lyons

The City Musick – Renaissance Wind Band Music for Court & City
with William Lyons and Richard Thomas
Fri 15 – Sun 17 February 2019

Clarinets
with David Campbell
Fri 8 – Sun 10 March 2019

Oboe Weekend
with Sarah Francis and Jean Marsden
Fri 31 May – Sun 2 June 2019

Jackdaws Tutor Madeleine Mitchell by Rama Knight

Workshop Viola and Violin music with Madeleine Mitchell

Bassoon Workshop – From Reed to Recital
with Robert Codd
Fri 7 – Sun 9 June 2019

Strings Courses
Winter Guitar Ensemble
with Eden Stell Guitar Duo
Thurs 31 January – Sun 3rd February 2019
Three Day Course

Violin and Viola Workshop
with Madeleine Mitchell
Fri 5 – Sun 7 April 2019

Eden Stell Guitar Duo

A long awaited Summer Guitar Course with the Eden Stell Duo

Summer Guitar Ensemble
with Eden Stell Guitar Duo
Thurs 11 – Sun 14 July 2019
Three Day Course

Strings & Things: Intermediate – Advanced
with Elizabeth Turnbull
Thurs 15 – Sun 18 August 2019
Three Day Course

Stylish Baroque
with Theresa Caudle and Alistair Ross
Fri 6 – Sun 8 September 2019

Jackdaws Tutor Wendy Skeen

Wendy Skeen’s successful One Day Course gets a full weekend!

Ensemble Courses
From Panic to Poise: Strategies for Managing Performance Anxiety Weekend
with Wendy Skeen
Fri 3 – Sun 5 May 2019

Chamber Music Weekend
with Sarah Francis, Robert Codd, Ian Mitchell and Stephen Gutman
Fri 19 – Sun 21 July 2019

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Fanfares in Frome for Year of Brass!

Fanfares in Frome for Year of Brass!

Children from Cheddar, Rode & Norton St Philp schools have composed special Birthday Fanfares for Jackdaws Education Trust and Onyx Brass Quintet to celebrate the 25th Birthday of both organisations.

The schools performed their specially written fanfares at a Grand Finale concert at Frome’s Cheese and Grain, on 20 March, as part of Jackdaws Music Education Trust’s award-winning music project “Year of Brass” which saw over 250 children work with the Onyx Brass Quintet in schools throughout Somerset. Over 150 of the children took part in the final concert, at the Cheese and Grain, where the Fanfares were given their premiere. The children, many of whom have only been learning their brass instruments since January, were led by the Quintet in a spirited performance of Rossini’s overture to William Tell, Duke Ellington’s C-Jam Blues and Dawn at the Oasis by Timothy Jackson. The concert was sold out and enthusiastically received by the audience. “What a way to inspire kids to play instruments! Loved it!” said one parent, after the concert.

 

THE YEAR OF BRASS

Onyx Brass by Benjamin EalovegaAfter working with young musicians in schools across the breadth of Somerset, during March, the world class Onyx Brass Quintet performed alongside over 150 pupils from those schools in a Grand Finale concert at Frome’s Cheese & Grain.

I thought it was inspiring and incredible how everyone was playing in sync. Amazing from everyone in the room!” – One participant

In addition, the Onyx Brass Quintet played several solo pieces which held both audience and children in rapture. Their varied programme included an arrangement of Bach’s Fugue in C major BWV846, Charpentier’s Prelude to Te Deum, James Maynard’s Fanfare and arrangements of the popular tunes You Make me Feel So Young, and What a Wonderful World.

The children performing alongside the Quintet ranged from First school children aged 7 up to 18-year-old college students, with a wide range of abilities on show. One participating school had only started whole-class ensemble Brass teaching in January, but were still able to join in the show alongside other students thanks to their workshop with the Onyx Brass Quintet earlier in March.

Each school workshop with Onyx Brass also featured a 45-minute interactive performance to the whole school, specially designed to stimulate the children’s imaginations, and used interactive games to teach musicianship skills.

The musicians worked with smaller groups of children to prepare music for this final performance, also giving school teachers a chance to learn from them. Teachers were supported throughout the project with resources including recordings and sheet music for all pieces, downloadable from the dedicated schools area on the Jackdaws website.

 

25th ANNIVERSARY FANFARE

Year of Brass with Jackdaws and OnyxThe Year of Brass project fell on a landmark year for both Jackdaws and the Onyx Brass Quintet. With both groups celebrating their 25th anniversaries in 2018, Jackdaws commemorated the occasion by launching a competition among participating schools to compose a Fanfare. The final round, between Cheddar First School and Rode & Norton St Philip, was held during the concert, with Onyx Brass deciding to award first prize to Cheddar First School, who received a £50 voucher for music resources.

 

The Year of Brass project was supported by Sound Foundation Somerset, Arts Council England, The Austin & Hope Pilkington Trust, The Radcliffe Trust and Jackdaws Music Education Trust.

Sound the Trumpets!

Sound the Trumpets!

SOUND THE TRUMPETS! THE AWARD-WINNING PROJECT “JACKDAWS YEAR OF…” BRINGS WORLD CLASS BRASS QUINTET TO LOCAL SCHOOLS

Onyx Brass by Benjamin Ealovega

Onyx Brass Quintet lead Jackdaws Year of Brass

In February and March, schools across Somerset will be visited by the Onyx Brass Quintet as part of Jackdaws Music Education Trust’s award-winning music project “Year of Brass”, giving children first hand experience at making music alongside a world class ensemble.

JACKDAWS: THE YEAR OF BRASS

The Onyx Brass Quintet will work with fifteen Schools across Somerset before pupils from each school assemble in a large local venue to perform with Onyx in the Grand Finale Concert.

Each school visit begins with a 45-minute interactive performance by the Quintet to the whole school. This performance is designed to inspire the children and demonstrate how wonderful and exciting these instruments are.

Following this, the musicians work with a smaller group of children to prepare music for the final performance. School teachers also have a chance to learn from the musicians during this workshop and are supported with teaching resources and support from Jackdaws.

25th ANNIVERSARY FANFARE

The Year of Brass coincides with landmark years for both Jackdaws and the Onyx Brass Quintet; both groups celebrate their 25th anniversaries in 2018. To commemorate the occasion, Jackdaws have launched a challenge to participating schools to compose a Birthday Fanfare. The schools which choose to take part will be able to play their fanfare to Onyx at the Grand Finale Concert at Frome’s Cheese & Grain, 5:30pm on Tuesday 20 March.

THE YEAR OF… PROJECT

Best Classical Music Education Initiative 2017In five years of the Year of… project, Jackdaws has engaged with thousands of children and young people. With performances and workshops also including teachers, as well as parents, siblings and performers at each of the five Grand Finale performances that number is well over 30,000 people taking part in this project so far. The annual Grand Finale concert is a thrilling event, seeing 100’s of pupils from all participating schools perform en masse with international, professional musicians of the highest standing.

Artistic Director of Jackdaws Music Education Trust, Saffron van Zwanenberg, created “The Year of…” in 2013 in response to a reduction in the number of children learning to play instruments and add a development/enhancement to the flagship Whole Class Ensemble Teaching programme promoted by the National Plan for Music Education. It has become a key project in Jackdaws’ education output, supporting the organisation’s aim to enable creative expression by bringing music to life in an accessible, inclusive and inspirational way. Miss van Zwanenberg said:

Year of... Whole School Workshop

A “Year of…” Project Whole School Performance

“Inspiration is usually the spark that lights the fire so if we want more children to start learning instruments and continue to a good level of proficiency, then access to the best performers in the world is the way forward. When children meet and see amazing musicians doing remarkable things with instruments, playing wonderful repertoire, that spark is ignited or an already burning flame is fanned.

If we want orchestras in the future and audiences for chamber music and orchestral works, this first step is vital. It has been our privilege to work with such brilliant artists, who are not only masters in their fields but also as passionate about this as we are.”

Year of Guitar

Year of Guitar

“The Year of…” project is flexible, and each year introduces school children to a different chamber or orchestral instrument. It was launched by Jackdaws in 2013 with Year of the String Quartet, featuring the Carducci String Quartet; 2014 was Year of Guitar with the Eden Stell Guitar Duo, 2015 was Year of Percussion with Joby Burgess, 2016 was Year of the Reed with the Gelachter Wind Trio and 2017 was Year of Recorder with Anna Stegmann and Tabea Debus.

Jackdaws invites artists of international standing, with a history of performing to the highest level and who have a special interest in education and out-reach, to take part in the project.

The Year of Brass is supported by Sound Foundation Somerset, Arts Council England, The Austin & Hope Pilkington Trust, The Radcliffe Trust and Jackdaws Music Education Trust. Tickets are available for the Grand Finale performance on Tuesday 20 March from the Cheese & Grain.


Participant Reactions to “The Year of…”

The Year of the String Quartet

“The Carducci was simply outstanding on Friday!  We were all amazingly impressed at their skill, musicianship and ability to engage with the children in a manner that gave them great pleasure but also taught them music skills and knowledge in an incredibly enjoyable way.

Thank you very much indeed for facilitating this visit.  Having had such a superb experience, we are even more excited about working with you on this and other projects into the future!

With many thanks,

Sue, staff and children at Hayesdown”
(Sue Heal –Head Teacher, Hayesdown First School, Frome)

“The string quartet was brilliant! The children were enchanted!
Naomi” (Naomi Pauley- Head Teacher at Vallis First School, Frome)

“What’s not to love, when you see the Cheese and Grain fuller than ever, with some totally amazed unsuspecting parents, watching their children be a part of that sound (and joining in themselves!)”
Kate Adams (Parent)

The Year of Guitar

“Jackdaws really is making a difference and seeing those children’s faces yesterday really said it all… Working with you and your team is one of the highlights.” Chris Stell (Eden Stell Guitar Duo)

“It’s been our pleasure and privilege to be part of Year of the Guitar. It’s such a wonderful experience to have brought the guitar to so many youngsters many of whom will remember their experience forever …. So what you and the Jackdaws dream team are doing is amazing especially in difficult times … so keep on going and you will always have our support when ever it’s needed.” Mark Eden (Eden Stell Guitar Duo)

“They are so engaging and have pitched it just right for our students, brilliant!”
Andi Nicholson – Head of Expressive Arts, Frome College

The Year of Percussion

“Many thanks once again for such an amazing opportunity for our children.”
Sarah Bullmore – Head Teacher, Christchurch First school, Frome

“Thank you to everyone it was a most memorable occasion for us all. Our children have had a world class experience!”
Theresa Hobbs  Head Teacher, Chilthorne Domer Primary, Yeovil


Jackdaws Music Education TrustContact Details

Saffron van Zwanenberg
Artistic Director at Jackdaws
saffron@jackdaws.org / 01373 812383

Joshua Bishop
Projects and Digital Officer
josh@jackdaws.org / 01373 812383

Jackdaws May 2016Jackdaws Music Education Trust
Great Elm, Frome, BA11 3NY
www.jackdaws.org.uk
music@jackdaws.org
01373 812383
Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: JackdawsMusic

Jackdaws Music Education Trust is a registered Charity 1037073.

2017 Review

2017 Review

12 months of activity has given us much to talk about. Our Education projects have excelled themselves, reaching thousands of children across Somerset. We’ve won Awards, reached milestones and made some wonderful music.

Jackdaws Receive the AwardWe started 2017 with our first large-scale project of the year, Year of Recorder, with Recorder virtuosi Anna Stegmann and Tabea Debus. The project told the story of “How the Wren Became King”, using music both composed and improvised on recorders of all different shapes and sizes by children from 12 schools performing en masse at Frome’s Cheese & Grain. Less than two weeks before rehearsals and school visits began, we were delighted to win Best Classical Music Education Initiative 2017 Music Teacher Awards for Excellence for the second year running  for “The Year of…” project. We continue this project in 2018 with a special Year of Brass, working with Onyx Brass Quintet; join us for the Grand Finale Concert on Tuesday 20 March 2018.

Best Classical Music Education Initiative 2017Music Teacher Awards OperaPLUSOperaPLUS (Best Classical Music Education Initiative 2016) revived the successful 2016 production of Donizetti’s The Love Potion, for the composer’s 225th anniversary year with 5 performances with schools across the length and breadth of Somerset in April and May. The humorous and light-hearted tale set on a farm in Somerset of a hopeless lover and his encounter with a trickster street doctor, was a big hit. In 2018, we stay with the work of Donizetti, this time transforming the famous La fille du Régiment into “The Team Mascot”, telling the story of rival football teams and all of the passion that brings.

Song Story focused on the life and music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, telling his story through his music. During the project, 4 Somerset SEND Schools and one Secondary collaborated with Composer William Carslake, Violinist Flora Curzon and Soprano Saffron van Zwanenberg to create an hour-long show, spanning the composer’s child prodigy years through to the tragic unfinished Requiem, encompassing elements of his most famous works played, sung and acted by the group.

On Friday 16 June, the annual Schools Picnic at Jackdaws welcomed 100 children from 5 local schools who all performed and enjoyed a picnic in the Rose Garden. We heard singers, recorder and ukulele players, performing in mixed groups from whole classes down to solo performers. Everyone performed fantastically! Best of all, the rain held off until we had finished our lunch.

Taking the Singing Strategy out of the classroom, the Somerset Singing Festival Frome event on Thursday 13 July was directed by our wonderful singing leader Caroline Radcliffe. It was a heart-warming event, with pupils from schools across the county joining together to sing music they had learnt through the county wide Singing Strategy.

Macbeth at the Jackdaws Summer Production

Macbeth at the Jackdaws Summer Production

We closed the 16-17 academic year with the great news that the first entrants from our Friday club for young people, Jack’s Music Club, had achieved their Bronze Arts Award which they had been working towards through Jack’s. They were the first that Jackdaws have entered for the Award and will now work towards their Silver Award, as the rest of Music Club tackle their Bronze this year. Come and join us on Friday’s at 4.30pm if you want to find out more and make music with other local young people.

At the beginning of the summer holidays our intake of keen young artists were taking part in our Summer Production week. They transformed Shakespeare’s Hamlet, with music inspired by Mahler and set and costume design inspired by graphic designer David Carson.

Judges and Winners of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 2017

With the new academic year came The Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 2017, which marked the 25th Award since its foundation in 1992. The winner was Mezzo-Soprano Ema Nikolovska and we were very privileged to have Mary Nelson, winner of the Award in 1995, judging the competition, alongside renowned accompanist Christopher Glynn and Soprano and Jackdaws Trustee Rosa Mannion. The audience obviously agreed with the judges as Ema won not only the First-place prize, but the Audience Prize as well.

2018

A very big year for Jackdaws as we will be celebrating our 25th birthday!

We will be marking this in a number of ways so please keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for further information. Wonderfully, Onyx Brass who are leading our Year of Brass are also celebrating a 25th anniversary in 2018, so schools taking part in the project have the chance to compose a birthday fanfare which Onyx will judge and the winner will be invited to play it at our birthday party in June. There will be cake!

Arts Award LogoWe are also very excited to announce now that we are expanding our opportunities for young people with a brand new Explore the Arts Week, during half term. It will be a chance for children from ages of 7-12 to explore, learn and create using different forms of art. The aim is for the children to take their Discover or Explore Arts Awards, the entry level qualifications, over the course of the week. Get in touch for more information!

Remember that you can stay up to date with all our projects, courses and concerts by signing up to our mailing list at www.jackdaws.org.uk or subscribing at the bottom of this page.

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