Articles tagged with: Music Courses

Humans of Frome Interview with Saffron van Zwanenberg

Humans of Frome Interview with Saffron van Zwanenberg

Saffron van ZwanenbergWalking Vallis Woods to Great Elm from Frome is just about one of the nicest walks that you could find around these parts, at this time of year (October) the trees are in glorious technicolour and we are blessed with these unexpected but very welcome sunshine filled days. The duck pond at Great Elm is a great resting spot, and the view complete with the ancient boathouse on the side of the pond is picture postcard pretty. If you’re luck enough you might even be fortunate enough to hear music emanating from the building hidden behind the boathouse, this is Jackdaws.

Jackdaws is dedicated to improving participation in and enjoyment of music through weekend courses, Education projects, a Young Artists Programme and performances by world class musicians. Their ethos is inspiration, access and inclusion. The charitable trust was established by Opera Singer Maureen Lehane 25 years ago, when she and composer husband Peter Wishart moved to the area. By all accounts Maureen was a powerhouse of a woman with a vision and the determination to match, to this day her legacy lives on in the work of this hidden jewel of a music centre on the fringes of Frome.

Before Maureen died she made very sure that her boots would be filled by just the right feet…..step forward this week’s Human of Frome, Saffron Von Zwanenberg a woman who entered the world of Opera and indeed the Jackdaw’s world by the most unlikely route imaginable.

Born to immigrant parents in 1970s London, Saffron’s Doctor Father is of Dutch extraction and her Artist Mother came to the UK from Palestine at the age of 6. Saffron and her family moved to Newcastle where she lived until she was about 8 years old. I asked if that had been a big move for her, she replied not really and continued with her family tale. The story continues on the remote Island of East New Britain just off the coast of Papua New Guinea, where her Father took up a post in the hospital. That was a big move and city child, Saffron found herself living in Rabaul, famed for having the 5th deepest harbour in the world. The harbour was formed when a prehistoric volcano erupted leaving a circular crater surrounded by newly formed active volcanoes. The Island was small, and continues to remain small as it it lives with the threat of volcanic eruptions every 50 years or so. Saffron recalls happy carefree days, roaming Mango Avenue, the Island’s one shopping street and amusing herself with her Father’s limited tape cassette library. At the age of 13, she returned to Newcastle, the life that she had lived in Papua New Guinea under threat by the imminent eruption of Mount Tarvurvur (which went on to largely destroy Rabaul in 1994).

She describes her return to secondary school in Newcastle as a ‘Baptism of Fire’, explaining that she was quite ‘different’ following her years of carefree childhood in one of the remotest spots on the planet. Saffron talks about bullying but says that that was just a part of life, it didn’t have a label but it was rife in the schools back then…she says however that she was adaptable just like other children and laughingly comments that she had perfected her Geordie accent within her first week back in the city. Music was a saving grace for her, although she was very different to her fellow students in that there was a large gap in her musical knowledge, she didn’t even know who ‘Duran Duran’ were back then. There had been no TV in Rabaul, so if you wanted to enjoy music you had to make it. Her Father had a guitar and a tape recorder that he had bought in Hong Kong on their way out there. Before their departure he had meticulously recorded his entire music collection onto cassette. This left the young Saffron with a limited selection of The Eagles, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger and Opera to choose from. She chose Opera and the young English girl could be heard regularly singing along to Joan Sutherland and Pavarotti.

Back in 1980’s Newcastle, despite her difference Saffron found her tribe and before too long had established a theatrical company with her friends. This troupe of liberal creatives performed some risque shows in the school hall, including a Full Monty (esque) striptease show (pre The Full Monty), the school however did put their foot down when they suggested putting on their version of The Rocky Horror Show. In this time, one of Saffron’s teachers ‘Mr.Young’ noticed her voice when one day she sang ‘Hey Jude’ with a bunch of other students…Saffron continued singing at the end where the song goes up and up and up, other singers falling by the wayside and open mouthed waiting for her to come back down. Mr.Young was the first person to suggest that she should take singing lessons. Her epiphany came at A level time, she knew then that she had to be an Opera Singer and was supported by her Biology and PE teachers and her parents in her choice.

Saffron secured a place at Trinity College in London where she studied an associate postgraduate course and then went onto achieve a postgraduate in Opera at The Royal College . She eventually left The Royal College as a Junior Fellow. With her academic achievements in her pocket she took a year out and traveled to the USA. Alone, she found herself in New Jersey looking after kids at a religious girl guide camp for a period of months, very out of her comfort zone she persevered as only a Geordie Opera singer via New Guinea can.

Upon her return to the UK she worked for many Opera companies. Disillusioned however with the life of an Opera singer, Saffron gravitated towards the works of a director called Robert Chevara. He hailed from a physical theater background, something in his work resonated with her. She became his assistant for a number of years whilst at the same time developing an interest in Opera and children and its effects on the lives of those who have access to it. Over the years Saffron has worked in many capacities within the world of Opera and education, at one point she commuted weekly from London to Wales where she was Education Officer for Mid Wales. On the recommendation of a conductor friend she participated in her first workshop at Jackdaws nearly a decade ago.

When Maureen Lehane handed the proverbial baton over to Saffron she clearly knew what she was doing. Sounds like she had put her through some rigorous testing over the years, throwing challenges in her path like musical grenades…one of the first being the task of re-creating Wagner’s Epic Ring Cycle (the Opera equivalent of The Lord Of the Rings) over a summer period. Of course Saffron rose to the challenge with the same ‘of course, no problem’ attitude as she has approached everything in her life thus far. Now very much a part of the beating heart of Jackdaws, Saffron continues the great legacy of its founder and continuously looks at new and exciting ways to develop it, planning permission and funding have been secured for an extension which will see a new performance hall built on site and an ambitious programme of workshops (over 40) is planned for the coming year.

Jackdaws was a hub of activity on the day that we sat outside chatting, a chorus of birdsong behind us, a flurry of applications arriving for the 25th Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards, the Trust’s accountant arriving for a meeting, and I am aware that this sleepy little wooded valley is very deceptive….at its heart lies a bustling music education trust and at its helm an unassuming Geordie girl who has had the most extraordinary journey to this place, her spiritual home.

This article was first published by the Frome Times, 24 October 2017.

Humans of Frome was started by Ciara Nolan as a column in the independent newspaper, The Frome Times. It celebrates those individuals who dare to walk their own unique path no matter what difficulties they might have had to overcome along the road. Read more remarkable stories on the Humans of Frome Facebook Page or at The Frome Times.

 

One Day Courses at Jackdaws

We run One Day Courses at Jackdaws to give you the chance to learn from the expertise of our world-class tutors 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*. We have courses for singers, guitarists and a new course for 2018 – From Panic to Pose – exploring performance anxiety for both instrumentalists and singers.

Autumn at JackdawsSinging for the Over 50s
with Penny Jenkins
Saturday 11 November
A safe and healthy approach for those who continue to sing after 50 (or thereabouts!)

Singing for All the Family
with Caroline Radcliffe NEW TUTOR
Sunday 12 November
We’ll all sing together with Caroline Radcliffe, who welcomes all ages to build a choir in a day!

Singing with Confidence
with Jessica Walker
Saturday 9 December
Scared to sing on your own? Always hiding at the back of the choir? This is the course for you!

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

One Day Guitar Course
with Chris Stell
Sunday 10 December
Explore the full range of the guitar with classical styles and techniques.

From Panic to Poise
with Wendy Skeen NEW TUTOR
Sunday 8 April 2018
Discover practical strategies to help you enjoy performing and sharing your music-making with others.

Visit individual course pages to book your place, before they disappear like the autumn leaves!

 

*Singing for the Whole Family costs £35 for a group of 2 adults & 2 children, lunch not included. Soup and a sandwich can be ordered for £5 per person.

Jackdaws in Autumn

Jackdaws 2017-18 Season Announced

Jackdaws 2017-18 Season Announced

Jackdaws Music Education TrustJackdaws have announced their 2017-18 Season of weekend music courses. Featuring a selection of new and returning tutors, we are sure that there is something for everybody.

During the upcoming season, we will celebrate the 25th year of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards, and commemorate the occasion with an updated logo. Taking place on Friday 10 November at the Wigmore Hall, we do hope you can join us for what will be a wonderful afternoon of music, performed at the highest standard.

Update: Booking is now open online, by phone, email or post. Full information about all Jackdaws courses is available on our website, or get in touch to request a printed brochure.

Jump to Voice, Piano, Wind, Strings & One Day Courses

Voice

Lucy Schaufer by Dan Welldon22 – 24 Sept 2017: Jane Austen Song Celebration with Sarah Walker

6 – 8 Oct: Singing in Russian with Alexandre Naoumenko

20 – 22 Oct: The Healthy Voice with Russell Smythe

17 – 19 Nov: Audition Preparation with Audrey Hyland & Saffron van Zwanenberg

1 – 3 Dec: Voice & Body Integration with Lucy Schaufer

2 – 4 Feb 2018: Sing Sing Sing with Evelyn Tubb & Michael Fields

23 – 25 Feb: Art Songs by Black British & African American Composers with Michael Harper

16 – 18 Mar: English Song with Sarah Leonard & Stephen Varcoe

13 – 15 April: Opera Workshop with Mary Plazas

4 – 6 Apr: Singing Handel with Rosa Mannion

25 – 27 May: The Vocal Technician with Joy Mammen

8 – 10 June: Discover Your Voice with Penny Jenkins

22 – 24 June: A Song By Any Other Name with Richard Jackson

5 – 8 July: Staged Opera Scenes with Saffron van Zwanenberg & Rosa Mannion

20 – 22 July: The Golden Age of Broadway with Paul Knight

9 – 12 Aug: Unlocking Your Vocal Potential with Jessica Walker

23 – 26 Aug: Preparing a Role with Phillip Thomas

31 Aug – 2 Sept: Singing in French with Robin Bowman

21 – 23 Sept: Singing in English with Adrian Thompson

Piano

Jackdaws Tutor Karl Lutchmayer (credit Helen Murray)29 Sept – 1 Oct 2017: Lifelong Learning for the Pianist with Ruth Harte

13 – 15 Oct: Finding Your Voice at the Piano with Stephen Savage

27 – 29 Oct: Improvisation: An Art for Everyone with Mark Polishook

24 – 26 Nov: Practising the Piano with Graham Fitch

9 – 11 Feb 2018: Polishing Your Piano Technique with Melanie Spanswick

9 – 11 Mar: Towards Effortless Piano Playing with Penelope Roskell

23 – 25 Mar: The Complete Pianist with Margaret Fingerhut

27 – 29 Apr: Knowing the Score with Karl Lutchmayer

18 – 20 May: Intermediate Piano Course with Timothy Barratt

15 – 17 June: Realising Your Inner Musical Image with Julian Jacobson

26 – 29 July: Piano Summer School with Mark Tanner

14 – 16 Sept: Piano Workshop – A New Departure! with Philip Fowke

One Day Courses

Sat 11 Nov 2017: Singing for the over 50’s with Penny Jenkins

Sun 12 Nov: Singing for All the Family with Caroline Radcliffe

Sat 9 Dec: Singing with Confidence with Jessica Walker

Sun 10 Dec: One Day Guitar Course with Chris Stell

Fri 15 Dec: Jackdaws Christmas Concert at Great Elm Church (concert)

Sun 8 April 2018: From Panic to Poise with Wendy Skeen

Strings

Jackdaws Tutor Flora Curzon25 – 28 Jan 2018: Guitar Ensemble with Eden Stell Guitar Duo

11 – 13 May: Folk Fiddle with Flora Curzon & Holly Harman

29 June – 1 July: Strings & Things Part One with Elizabeth Turnbull

16 – 19 Aug: Strings & Things Part Two with Elizabeth Turnbull

Wind

3 – 5 Nov 2017: Recorder Weekend with Anna Stegmann

16 – 18 Feb 2018: The City Musick: Renaissance Music for Court & City with William Lyons & Richard Thomas

2 – 4 Mar: Clarinets with David Campbell

20 – 22 Apr: Oboe Workshop with Sarah Francis & Jean Marsden

1 – 3 June: Bassoon Workshop – From Reed to Recital with Robert Codd

13 – 15 July: Chamber Music with Sarah Francis, Robert Codd, Ian Mitchell & Stephen Gutman

7 – 9 Sept: Stylish Baroque with Theresa Caudle & Alastair Ross

Jackdaws Tutors 2017-18

Welcome to Jackdaws

Welcome to Jackdaws

We’ve just launched our new video – Welcome to Jackdaws.

What is it like in Great Elm? And what happens on a weekend course? If you’re considering a music course find yourself asking these questions, give us 4 minutes to introduce ourselves.

A full list of Jackdaws Courses is available on our website.

Or take a look at our Vimeo channel.

Sing in Russian

Sing in Russian

“Truly there would be reason to go mad, were it not for music.”
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Mihaly Zichy - Performance at the Bolshoi Theatre

Mihaly Zichy – Performance at the Bolshoi Theatre (1856)

Classical Music, and vocal music in particular, began in Russia during the 19th century with the introduction of Western composers to the Imperial courts. It was in the 1860s with the Mighty Handful and the formation of Conservatoires in Saint Petersburg and Moscow by the Rubinstein brothers, Anton and Nikolai respectively, when a generation of composers emerged telling Russian tales with Russian music.

From the beginning, Russia invested heavily in staging grand performances of large scale artworks. The Bolshoi Theatre (right), which has housed performances of ballet and opera in Moscow since 1825, takes its name from the Russian word большой (Bol-shoi), meaning big, grand or great, and referring to the grand performances of Opera and Ballet in this type of theatre. Thus, other Bolshoi theatres include the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg. Plays take place in smaller Maly theatres.

The new Russian composers were influenced by Oktavist singers of the Orthodox church who sang deep and resonant basso profundo notes and the Bell ringing in the church towers as well as Jewish and folk melodies. This wave of nationalist Composers set texts by fellow compatriots Pushkin, Tolstoy and Dolmatovsky as well as Shakespeare and Goethe in translation. ‘The Mighty Handful’, a group of five composers headed by Mily Balakirev, including Cesar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Borodin, strived to create a unique style of Russian Classical music, such as was being developed in other countries by their own composers.

Almost every Russian composer, from Mikhail Glinka and Alexander Dargomyzhsky, through the Mighty Handful and Tchaikovsky to Rachmaninov, Shostakovich and Prokofiev to contemporaries such as Sofia Gubaidulina, Alfred Schnittke and Leonid Desyatnikov, produced a huge amount of vocal music. Tchaikovsky wrote over 100 songs and 10 operas (including three of the biggest in the Russian repertoire Yevgeny Onegin, Iolanta and The Queen of Spades), Rachmaninov composed over 80 songs, and operas by Prokofiev and Shostakovich are still performed regularly.

Singing in Russian

Jackdaws Tutor Alexandre Naoumenko

Alexandre Naoumenko

To us, Russian vocal music can seem daunting because the text is written in the Cyrillic script, but it is easily rendered into sound with a little help. Melodies based on folk tunes are often simple, diatonic and repetitive yet driven by interesting rhythms and flavoured with unique harmony; it can be a challenge to marry these contrasting elements effectively.

Jackdaws works with Russian tenor Alexandre Naoumenko, who trained at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire and performed Mussorgsky at the Bolshoi theatre before becoming Russian language coach to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, to bring this Russian music vocal course to you each year. Together with exceptional repetiteur Richard Shaw, Alexandre introduces the language, style and culture with simple techniques to help you can create an authentic Russian performance.

We invite singers of all voices and ability to this unique weekend course in our Somerset studio, where we provide your meals and arrange your B&B accommodation with clean, local providers exclusive to Jackdaws.

I really liked the work on a new shared song, which helped to make more sense of how this unfamiliar language works.” – 2015 Singing in Russian participant

Singing in Russian
Alexandre Naoumenko
Accompanist: Richard Shaw
Friday 23 – Sunday 25 September 2016
Level: All singers and abilities
Fee: £210
B&B: Rooms Available
Book Now

2016-17 Music Courses

2016-17 Music Courses

We are delighted to announce booking is now open for our 2016-17 season weekend and one-day music courses for Voice, Piano, Wind and Strings at Jackdaws; full details are available below.

You can now book through our website, by phone, email and post. Scroll down to see our exciting new courses.

Jackdaws New Courses 2016-17

Jump to section: Voice, Piano, One Day Courses, Strings, Wind

Voice

23 – 25 Sept 2016: Singing in Russian with Alexandre Naoumenko

7 – 9 Oct: Singing and Imagination with Ameral Gunson

4 – 6 Nov: The Healthy Voice with Russell Smythe

11 – 13 Nov: Bridge to Britten with Ian Partridge

18 – 20 Nov: Audition Preparation with Audrey Hyland & Saffron van Zwanenberg

27 – 29 Jan 2017: Sing Sing Sing with Evelyn Tubb & Michael Fields

10 – 12 Feb: Opera Workshop with Mary Plazas

24 – 26 Feb: Art Songs with Michael Harper

17 – 19 Mar: English Song with Sarah Leonard & Stephen Varcoe

31 Mar – 2nd Apr: A Song By Any Other Name with Richard Jackson

7 – 9 Apr: Singing Handel with Rosa Mannion

5 – 7 May: Singing in Spanish with Carlos Aransay

17 – 19 May: The Vocal Technician with Joy Mammen

9 – 11 June: Discover Your Voice with Penny Jenkins

23 – 25 June: The Golden Age of Broadway with Paul Knight

13 – 16 July: Staged Opera Scenes with Saffron van Zwanenberg & Rosa Mannion

21 – 23 July: 20th Century & Beyond with Linda Hirst

10 – 13 Aug: Unlocking Your Vocal Potential with Jessica Walker

24 – 27 Aug: Preparing a Role with Phillip Thomas

1 – 3 Sept: Singing in French with Robin Bowman

Click on Course Titles for more information

Jackdaws May 2016Piano

30 Sept – 2 Oct 2016: Performance Anxiety with Ruth Harte

14 – 16 Oct: Sight-Reading, Memorisation and Piano Technique with Melanie Spanswick

28 – 30 Oct: Finding Your Voice at the Piano with Stephen Savage

25 – 27 Nov: Practising the Piano with Graham Fitch

10 – 12 Mar 2017: Improvisation: An Art for Everyone with Mark Polishook

24 – 26 Mar: The Complete Pianist with Margaret Fingerhut

28 – 30 Apr: Piano Workshop – A New Departure! with Philip Fowke

12 – 14 May: The Pianist Within with Elena Riu

30 June – 2 July: Rachmaninov and other Russian Composers with Julian Jacobson

27 – 30 July: Piano Summer School with Mark Tanner

15 – 17 Sept: Piano Workshop – A New Departure! with Philip Fowke

 

One Day Courses

Sat 3 Dec: Singing for the over 50’s with Penny Jenkins

Sun 4 Dec: One Day Guitar Course with Chris Stell

Sat 10 Dec: Free to Perform with Ann Hetherington

Sun 11 Dec: Singing with Confidence with Jessica Walker

Fri 16 Dec: Jackdaws Christmas Concert at Great Elm Church (concert)

 

Strings

2 – 5 Feb 2017: Guitar Ensemble with Eden Stell Guitar Duo

16 – 18 June: Strings & Things Part One with Elizabeth Turnbull

17 – 20 Aug: Strings & Things Part Two with Elizabeth Turnbull

 

Wind

21 – 23 Oct 2016: Recorder Weekend with Anna Stegmann

17 – 19 Feb 2017: The City Musick: Renaissance Music for Court & City with William Lyons & Richard Thomas

3 – 5 Mar: Clarinets with David Campbell

21 – 23 Apr: Oboe Workshop with Sarah Francis & Jean Marsden

2 – 4 June: Bassoon Workshop – From Reed to Recital with Robert Codd

7 – 9 July: Chamber Music with Sarah Francis, Robert Codd, Ian Mitchell & Stephen Gutman

8 – 10 Sept: Stylish Baroque with Theresa Caudle & Alastair Ross

Summer at the Keys

Summer at the Keys

Summer is a wonderful time for music. What better time to enjoy a classical music retreat at Jackdaws, where you can focus entirely on your music.

 

Jackdaws Tutor Elena RiuThe Pianist Within
with Elena Riu

“Its lovely to have a weekend away, share music, make new friends and have lovely meals cooked..bliss.”

Elena Riu’s weekends in Great Elm are something a little different to your average piano course. Elena, who trained in El Sistema, the revolutionary music education system in Venezuela which also produced Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bólivar Symphony Orchestra, begins with a revised timetable and introduces simple stretches and relaxation exercises to help you calm those pre-performance nerves.

As Professor of Piano at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, her credentials are in no doubt, and her continued success as a specialist performer of South American and Spanish music gives an exciting twist to this unique weekend. In 2016, a significant anniversary for two of Spain’s most renowned composers – Manuel da Falla and Enrique Granados, there is no better time to explore this wonderful music and try a new approach to the piano.

The Pianist Within
Friday 17 – 19 June 2016
Deposit: £50
B&B: Available
Book Now

 

Jackdaws Tutor Julian JacobsonSharpen Up Your Chopin
with Julian Jacobson

“There is something fundamentally personal and at the same time so very masterly in his playing that he may be called a really perfect virtuoso.” – Felix Mendelssohn on Chopin

Julian Jacobson, whose own playing “reveals the known repertoire of sonatas by Haydn and Chopin in a clearer, penetrating and often revelatory light” (The Oxford Times), leads another composer focused weekend at Jackdaws. Previous weekends, highlighting composers such as Beethoven and Liszt, have been received enthusiastically by pianists wanting to explore the music of these composers who are so dominating in the central repertoire.

More than 260 years on, Chopin’s music still glitters, shining a light directly onto the deepest of human emotions with unrivaled power and delicacy. To understand Chopin’s music is to understand expression at the piano.

Sharpen Up Your Chopin
Friday 1 – Sunday 3 July 2016
Depost: £50
B&B: Available
Book now

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

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

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.

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