Articles tagged with: voice

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

Christmas Ideas from Jackdaws

Christmas Ideas from Jackdaws

As musicians ourselves, we appreciate that it can be difficult at this time of the year, to find a unique and meaningful present for the musicians in your life (more meaningful than musical socks!)

To help you give something unique to the musician in your life, we have created Jackdaws Gift Vouchers to help you give the gift of music this year.

Jackdaws Gift Vouchers are

  • Available in any amount
  • Redeemable against any future course, either in the current brochure of in years to come
  • A useful gift for any musician
  • Have no expiry date!

With a Jackdaws Gift Voucher you give the invaluable gifts of knowledge, enjoyment and an experience to be cherished for years. To buy a gift voucher for your loved one, call Jackdaws on 01373 812383

Upcoming Vocal Courses

Jackdaws BirdsJackdaws Vocal Courses run throughout the year and cater for musicians of all abilities, from your first note ( Discover Your Voice ) to perfecting your high notes ( The Vocal Technician ). Our courses are based on our cores values – inspiration, access and inclusion.

Opera Workshop
Mary Plazas

Friday 19 – Sunday 21 February 2016

Performance vs Technique
Rosa Mannion

Friday 11 – Sunday 13 March 2016

they created a safe environment for experimenting with our singing

The Vocal Technician
Joy Mammen

Friday 13 – Sunday 15 May 2016

Discover Your Voice
Penny Jenkins

Friday 3 – Sunday 5 June 2016

Jackdaws Autumn 2015Staged Opera Scenes
Saffron van Zwanenberg and Audrey Hyland

Thursday 7 – Sunday 10 July 2016

Our residential weekend courses are the perfect retreat, where you can focus on your singing immersed in the calm of the Somerset countryside. You will work one to one with the best tutors in the country.

Singing Ensembles
Jessica Walker and David Knotts

Thursday 18 – Sunday 21 July 2016

Saffron and Audrey are an amazing team as well as experts in their field

Jump to all Jackdaws Voice courses

What you think is how you play!

Tutor and Alexander Technique mentor, Ann Hetherington, encourages us to consider A Kinesthetic Approach to Performing on Sunday 29 November. Ann helps musicians and singers to make discoveries on how to employ technique and communicate the music using a kinesthetic approach to reducing muscular and mental tension. The method will reference Alexander Technique, which Ann has taught for many years.

A thoroughly enjoyable and useful day. Ann proved to be a very good teacher, bright and communicating with us all the time. I could have taken more of it! I learned what the technique was about and the way in which it can improve our movement and our posture at the piano.
Michael

Ann HetheringtonAnn Hetherington attended the Royal College of Music, as a singer and pianist. She took Alexander Technique lessons with Marjory Barlow (Alexander’s niece), and joined Marjory’s training course 3 years later and qualified as a teacher herself. She subsequently taught AT one to one for the next thirty years.

Ann teaches piano and cello, and has a special interest in introducing new skills in such a way as to prevent stress in the mind which can convert into muscular tension. Ann has given taster days on the Alexander Technique for county peripatetic music teachers and also at a music conference for the blind, and as a resident AT teacher on a music camp.

Ann clearly knows her subject well and I picked up lots of useful tips. Helen 

Ann’s course is open to singers and musicians of all abilities and will take place at Jackdaws in Great Elm, just 3 miles from Frome. The course starts at 10.30am with complimentary tea and coffee, and a chance to meet your fellow participants. Tutor sessions take place from 11am to 3pm, with a break for a delicious home cooked lunch, included in the course fee of £45.

Jackdaws Autumn 2015A Kinesthetic Approach to Performing
Ann Hetherington
Sunday 29 November 2015
Level: Singers & Musicians of Any Ability
View more Information

New Season Courses Announced!

New Season Courses Announced!

BrochureLOWAfter the long wait, we are excited to finally be able to present our new season of weekend music courses and the 2015-16 year brochure.

We should introduce a few of our new tutors, such as Melanie Spanswick and Timothy Barratt (both piano) whose biographies glitter as much as their playing. Ralf Dorrell presents our first ever weekend Jazz Course to go alongside his One Day Course, now in it’s third year. Esteemed Irish baritone, Russell Smythe brings vocal health to the fore in his first weekend course.

Regular Clarinet tutor David Campbell has joined forces with sax-traordinaire Andy Tweed and together they will host a single reed feast for Clarinets and Saxophones in March.

Anna Stegmann returns for the second Recorder Weekend in a row, as does Mary Plazas’ Opera Workshop. Sarah Leonard and Stephen Varcoe present, for the second time, their English Song course in February, whilst the first of Philip Fowke’s Piano Workshops this season has a revolutionary new focus.

We are extremely excited about what this new year will bring, the music we’ll hear and the friends we’ll make. We hope to see you in Great Elm soon.

Why not jump straight to the course pages?
Voice, Piano, Strings, Wind, Ensemble, One Day
or Read the new brochure online

Jackdaws Brochure 2015-16

Foreign Languages at Jackdaws

Foreign Languages at Jackdaws

September is Foreign language month at Jackdaws – and we’re celebrating with leading experts in foreign language Art songs. We’ve invited French language specialist Robin Bowman and Russian language coach to the Royal Opera House Alexandre Naoumenko, to spend a weekend each with you in Great Elm.

Jackdaws Tutor Robin BowmanRobin Bowman worked as assistant to Pierre Bernac (the singer for whom Poulenc wrote more than half of his songs) throughout the 1970s, was French consultant for the National Opera Studio from 1978 to 2008. At the same time, he worked at the Académie Maurice Ravel and became Head of Academic Studies then Head of Vocal Studies at the Guildhall School between 1985 and 2008. He was a judge at the Kathleen Ferrier competition and in his retirement now works as a visiting tutor at the Birmingham Conservatoire, continuing his music courses such as those Jackdaws during the summer.

Born in Lipetsk, halfway between Moscow and Volograd, Alexandre Naoumenko is a graduate from the Moscow Tchaikowsky Conservatoire and the Moscow Opera Studio.Jackdaws Tutor Alexandre Naoumenko As a tenor, he has performed roles from the great Russian opera repertoire with some of the biggest companies on the most prestigious stages; the ENO, at the Concertgebouw, Royal Albert Hall and in Bolshoi Hall. He has taught at the Moscow Conservatory and works with prestigious orchestras such as the LSO Chorus, London Philharmonic and CBSO. For the past ten years he has been Russian language coach to the Royal Opera House.

Jackdaws courses are so successful because we are so careful about which tutors we invite. Alexandre and Robin have worked closely Jackdaws for many years.

BoathouseFlower KarolynThis September Alexandre and Robin visit Jackdaws to lead their “Singing in…” Language vocal courses. Both Singing in Russian and Singing in French are open to singers of any ability and address the key issues of singing in the respective languages as well as general vocal technique and health. You are invited to bring songs from your own repertoire or those which you are currently studying to work on with these eminent professionals.

Singing in French
with Robin Bowman
Friday 4 – Sunday 6 September

Singing in Russian
with Alexandre Naoumenko
Friday 18 – Sunday 20 September

Celebrate Sibelius

Celebrate Sibelius

Watercolour of Sibelius by Finnish painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela

Image from Wikipedia

We are all no doubt familiar with the staples of Schubert and Schumann, but with 109 songs spanning his entire compositional career, the Finnish composer Sibelius spoils us with a huge variety of exceptional vocal music. Presented as individual songs, in collections and as cycles on topics from Christmas through Astronomy to a young lover’s first kiss, Sibelius set texts in a variety of languages; his songs deserve as much recognition across the world as they enjoy in Scandinavia, and what better time to rediscover them than his anniversary year?

The songs became popular from their first performance, with performers, critics and public alike. Music scholars too have regarded the songs as having a central place in Sibelius’s output. The international success of the works has been limited for reasons of language – the majority of the songs are in Swedish – but in Scandinavia and especially in Finland they have gained a permanent place in the solo repertoire.

In 2015, the year of Sibelius’ 150th birthday, take the opportunity to work on some of his beautiful songs, in the original language or translation. We will set them against the songs of two of the biggest hitters in the repertoire, Schubert and Schumann, to see how they compare.

Ian PartridgeIan Partridge is one of Britain’s leading lyric tenors. His wide repertoire has encompassed the music of Monteverdi, Bach and Handel, the Elizabethan lute songs, German, French and English songs and first performances of new works. He appeared regularly as soloist with major choirs and orchestras in Britain and throughout the rest of the world, and in recitals he was frequently accompanied by his sister, Jennifer Partridge.

He is a professor at the Royal Academy of Music, and was awarded the CBE in 1992 for services to music. Ian retired from singing end of 2008, but continues to teach, give masterclasses and adjudicate.

Join Ian at Jackdaws in the beautiful Vallis Vale to explore the songs in a perfect setting; Sibelius loved nature, and the Finnish landscape often served as material for his music. On the subject of Sibelius’ ties to nature, one biographer of the composer, Erik W. Tawaststjerna, wrote the following:

Jackdaws“Even by Nordic standards, Sibelius responded with exceptional intensity to the moods of nature and the changes in the seasons: he scanned the skies with his binoculars for the geese flying over the lake ice, listened to the screech of the cranes, and heard the cries of the curlew echo over the marshy grounds just below Ainola. He savoured the spring blossoms every bit as much as he did autumnal scents and colours”.

Sibelius, Schumann and Schubert
Ian Partridge
Friday 24 – Sunday 26 April 2015
Level: Advanced
Fee: £200
B&B: Available
Visit the course page for more information

Handel at Jackdaws

Handel at Jackdaws

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

[youtube id=”HvhyIFhIKGE” width=”620″ height=”360″]
Falsa imagine” is sung by Teofane in the first act of Ottone, when she is deceived by Adelberto at their first meeting into thinking he is Ottone, the man she is to marry. Film clip from “A Night with Handel” on Channel 4 DVD.

 

[youtube id=”tBV0o3TW_n4″ width=”620″ height=”360″]
In the second act of Orlando, Dorinda sings “Se Mi Rivolgo al Prato” to the title character of how she sees the face of Medoro everywhere, the warrior with whom she is in love. From the recording with Les Arts Florissants and William Christie.

Spring into Action!

Spring into Action!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Search for a Course

Archives