The BBC Ten Pieces project is a wonderful thing. It enables musicians of all ages and stages to come together to play great works of classical music. Our 80-strong orchestra worked with inspiring conductor Patrick Bailey to produce not only a fantastic performance of Holst's Mars from The Planet Suite, but also a brand new composition which the students entitiled: "A Time in Space (2019 Space Odyssey)".
Groups of instrumentalists devised a short section to represent one of the planets. Patrick cleverly wove in our very own Bath Strings Academy motif in the brass section, using Morse Code to spell out "B-S-A". The percussion section deserve a special mention for their wonderful evocation of Deep Space, produced by three players who had never played tuned percussion before.
We are so proud of all the musicians who came and gave so much energy and commitment to the day. Special thanks go to the tutors and volunteers who supported everyone so enthusiastically, to B&NES music service for lending instruments, and to Hayesfield Girls' School for hosting us so generously.
Next year's project will be even bigger and better, so watch this space...
Taking to the Free Stage at Wiltshire Music Centre is always a pleasure, with encouraging audiences and a relaxed atmosphere. The team at WMC are dedicated to developing the audiences of the future and do great work in enabling young people to attend a huge variety of concerts across all genres.
After performing chamber music by Mozart, Stamitz, and Haydn, plus two French folk tunes and Coldplay's Viva la Vida, our musicians were treated to a concert by violinist Sam Sweeney and his band. They took us back in time to the First World War, with pieces inspired by a tune or story from the period, played in part on a violin constructed from parts carved by Private Richard Howard who was killed during the war, and re-constructed by a modern luthier.
What better way to develop one's own skills than by watching and listening to the best in the business? We constantly seek to expose students to the highest quality music making, and we are so grateful that organisations like the Cavatina Trust and Wiltshire Music Centre make this possible by offering free tickets to under 25s.
As players and teachers, we also endeavour to be constantly inspired ourselves, by working with and learning from the highest calibre chamber musicians. Thank you to the Doric, Maggini and Martinu Quartets for being our inspiration!
March is a busy time for our players, several of whom are performing in the Mid Somerset Festival, as soloists, duos, quartets and ensembles. It is always a thrill to see young players rise to the challenge of public performance, and to receive such lovely feedback about their playing and presentation.
It was a particular honor to receive the Jennifer Paterson Award for 'most promising chamber group' across all 9 chamber music classes.
Our inaugural half term course saw fifty children aged 4 - 14 join us for two days of playing and composition, looking at musical form. We looked at Rondo form and Theme and Variations, using Purcell's Rondeau from Abdelazar and Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra as our inspiration. The resulting compositions were a joy to hear, with each player contributing their creativity, whatever their level of experience on their instrument.
See more photos of the course here...
It was a joy and a privilege to take a group of twenty two young players to perform at St George's Hall, Bristol on Tuesday 5th February, and to receive the St George's Prize for Music 2018.
Head of Education at St George's Bristol, Catherine Freda, said: “What incredible talent and superb musicianship - the sheer enjoyment these young players obviously felt when performing just lit up the hall. And what an inspiration for the newer players to be able to perform side by side with the more experienced players. Bath Strings Academy is a worthy recipient of the St George’s Prize for Music 2018, and is a superb example of what young people can achieve with the right support and encouragement.”
We also received some lovely coverage of the event in the Bath Chronicle.
Our first workshop of the year was our 'Mystery and Intrigue' workshop, in which we studied how composers for stage and screen use particular devices to manipulate our emotions. Mancini's The Pink Panther and Hermann's Psycho (AKA The Scary Cat) provided the perfect vehicles for this. Our players enjoyed getting their fingers around the chromaticism, rhythmic challenges and precise articulation required to build a sense of mystery, intrigue and fear.
It was especially good to welcome new players whose horizons were broadened with techniques such as col legno, sul ponticello and slap pizzicato.