Steve Legge’s footnotes…!

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It’s been another busy year for GM with many successes, changes and developments.  Once again we have been well represented at a national level with success at both Music for Youth and the National Concert Band Festival.  In addition we were delighted to hear that the Jazz Centre won a ‘Diploma for Services to Jazz’ as part of the Music Education Awards in London.

Much of this success is attributed to the dedication of our young musicians and support of their families but we must also recognise and celebrate the hard work of our dedicated team of tutors. Our team of music tutors, teachers and group leaders commit themselves at weekends and evenings to support the development of our young musicians.  There have however been some changes to our staff this year and we were sad to lose some of our key members at the end of the academic year.

New Director for FVMC

Tim Cambray has retired as the Director of Five Valleys Music Centre after many years at the helm.  Tim has led the Centre not only as the Director, but also as the conductor of the Centre’s senior youth wind band.  We wish Tim all the very best for his retirement.  Katrina Wyndow will be taking on the role of Centre Director from September.  Katrina is a member of the music staff at Stroud High School and has been associated with Five Valleys Music Centre as a past student and current  woodwind tutor.  Katrina has a wealth of experience and we look forward to a new and exciting future for FVMC.

Fond farewell to Mr Cowley

Philip Cowley has been with GM for well over 30 years as a music tutor, music centre director, group leader and area manager.  In July this year, GM held their end of year staff ‘do’ and wished Phil a final goodbye as he retired.  The Vine Tree Inn in Randwick was packed as an all star jazz band entertained the crowds who came to wish Phil a happy retirement.  It was lovely to see past group members, pupils and staff members there in support of Phil’s commitment to GM over such a long time.  I am sure we will continue to see much of Phil as he is such a valued member of our adult groups.  Thank you from all at GM for the many years of dedicated service.

Steve Legge, Extended Learning and Provisions Manager, Gloucestershire Music.

Photographs: Steve Green Photography

Now that’s what I call a weekend…

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Photographs: Steve Green Photography

4 days
5 concerts
2 International Soloists
2 new commissions by young composers
3 national performances and nominations
250 miles travelled
150 young performers

What a weekend for Gloucestershire Music.  It started last Thursday, 7th July 2016, when our Trombone and Percussion Group (Flash Mob Ninjas) was invited to perform at the Cheltenham Festival.  A gig at the Cheltenham Town Hall has been come a regular experience for many of our county musicians however this event was special.  Not only did the FMNs get to perform to a packed bar at the interval but they also witnessed a performance by two of the world’s leading soloists.  Christian Lindberg (Trombone) and Evelyn Glennie (Percussion) wowed the audience with their solo and undoubtedly inspired the next generation of young musicians. For the young players to then meet Christian in person was the icing on the cake for a truly memorable evening.

Less than 12 hours later, we were back in our offices preparing for our annual trip to the Music for Youth National Festival.  Both the Gloucestershire Youth Wind Orchestra and Youth Jazz Orchestra had been invited to perform at this prestigious event.  With 65 young musicians and supporters we made our first trip of the week to Birmingham.  The wind band provided an entertaining concert that climaxed with a sensational rendition of Monti’s Czardas for clarinet duet.  This work is no mean feat for a violinist so to be performed (from memory) by two youth players was impressive stuff. After their performance at Birmingham Symphony Hall, we made our way to the Birmingham Town Hall to support the Gloucestershire Youth Jazz Orchestra.  I have one word – sensational.  It is not often we hear a youth group really nail a performance but this was one of those occasions, it even bought the music mentors to their feet in admiration.  Special congratulations must go to Roella Oloro for her composition Cruisin’ written especially for GYJO.  Another late night ensued as we headed back to Colwell.  Another day and another gig was not far away.

On Saturday, it was the turn of the Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra to make their way to the Music for Youth National Festival. This time it was the turn of young composer (and conductor) Freya Ireland to present her piece ‘From Ancient Grudge to New Mutiny’

How great to see and hear young composers’ music being written and presented on such an impressive stage as Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.  One adjudicator wrote:  ‘’Play this piece everywhere you can……..truly inspirational’’.

Not only is it impressive that GYO got through to the National Festival for a fifth year in a row (something of a record) but they also received a special nomination for their performance and presentation of Freya’s piece.  We will hear more soon about what this will mean fro GYO so watch out for news in the near future.

So we come to Sunday 10th July.  Back in Gloucestershire and back to another day at The Cheltenham International festival of Music.  The Gloucestershire Youth Wind Orchestra made their second appearance of the weekend performing to over 200 onlookers in the Imperial Gardens.  The weather held and the crowd supported the band as they performed a full hour of music.  Lakeside Concert Band (one of our adult music groups) took to the stage under the direction of Nicola Shorland.  Many of these players have only been playing for little over a year so to perform so confidently was great to see and hear.  Lakeside Concert Band made a fitting tribute to the end of four days of music making for Gloucestershire Music.

My thanks to the staff, parents (taxi drivers) and of course the musicians for making this a memorable end to a busy and enjoyable year of music making.

Steve Legge.

For more information on our music groups and centres visit our website

Vocal workshop with one of my heroes – John Rutter!

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Our first blog is by Lisa Mayo, Head of Gloucestershire Music, who recently attended a vocal workshop with John Rutter at Stroud Subscription Rooms:

“Last Saturday, the sun was shining as we arrived at the Stroud Subscription Rooms to join eager singers from all around the county (and indeed country!) in a day of singing with the world famous composer John Rutter. Stroud Choral Society had organised the event and invited Mr Rutter to come and guide us through some of his choral pieces, including his ‘Requiem’, which the Stroud Choral Society are preparing to perform on Saturday 25th June at 7:30pm at the Stroud Subscription Rooms.

The venue was full of enthusiastic singers – there must have been several hundred people – and a pile of scores greeted each person on their chair. I didn’t think we would be getting through all of this material but indeed we did! The day was an exciting challenge of speedy sight-reading for those who maybe weren’t as familiar with the pieces but what a great experience it was for singers of all abilities. It doesn’t get better than having the privilege of being directed and conducted by the actual composer himself and hearing hints and tips about how he actually would like the pieces to be performed. We were accompanied beautifully on the piano all day by the talented Huw Williams who directs Stroud Choral Society but who also is the Director of Music of Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, London. We also heard from Stroud Choral’s Junior Choir – the ‘Minpins’ – (lead by Zoë Hynes) who performed the two-part arrangement of ‘The Lord Bless You and Keep You’ just after lunch. They sang beautifully in front of such a large audience and of course Mr Rutter himself! Well done all!

Mr Rutter is not only an incredibly talented individual but he is also an extremely personable man who spent every break we had talking to people and signing copies of their music. He is also a great raconteur and amused us throughout the day with stories of the wonderful musicians / composers he had met during his lifetime such as Bob Chilcott, John Tavener and George Shearing.

As well as enjoying many of Rutter’s pieces (‘A Flower Remembered’ was a piece I hadn’t heard before of his but is now on my list of to-dos with a choir – gorgeous!) we also enjoyed singing choral works by other composers such as George Shearing ‘Who is Sylvia’ – a surprising choral piece by this composer, Bob Chilcott’s beautiful ‘Irish Blessing’ and evocative classics such as ‘Panis Angelicus’ (Franck), ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ (Handel) and ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ (J.S. Bach).

For me this was a fascinating and invigorating day spent with a man whose music has inspired me from a young age (thanks to my wonderful music education with two of the best teachers one could have wished for who exposed me to his music throughout my time at school and beyond). His melodic lines are also such a pleasure to sing and his harmonies are like a comfort blanket and so pleasing and satisfying to my ear. Rutter himself commented that some of his critics often seem to view his music as a little trite. I couldn’t disagree with them more. Rutter has a signature style I agree but that could be said for all artists – is that a problem? If ‘music feeds the soul’, as many people quote, then Rutter’s music is one of my soul’s favourite meals and long may he continue cooking for us all!”