246x0wTido Music, the innovative music learning app, has partnered with prestigious conservatoire the Royal College of Music (RCM), London. Committed to supporting music education, Tido will fund RCM student subscriptions to the app until 31st March 2020. Throughout the course of their subscriptions, students will use Tido Music to assist their studies and will be asked to give feedback on the app, contributing to its future development. The initiative will be extended to the RCM Junior Department next month.

Available as an iPad app or via desktop browser, Tido Music provides almost 10,000 piano and vocal scores from world-leading publishers, including Urtext editions from Bärenreiter and Edition Peters. Students will be able to find and access repertoire instantly and listen to professional audio recordings synced to the notation.

Piano accompaniment recordings are included with the vocal repertoire, enabling singers to practise with the piano part at any time, and innovative pitch-shift and speed-shift tools allow the accompaniments to be adjusted for individual needs. Additional audio tools such as looping will further enhance practice sessions. Tido’s proprietary technology means that the app can even listen to and follow pianists as they play, turning the pages of the score automatically.

Students will also discover rich educational materials such as video masterclasses from concert pianists and scholarly commentaries on the music. The practical and artistic insights offered in the masterclasses may help inform students’ understanding and interpretation of their repertoire.

Stephen Johns, Artistic Director of the Royal College of Music, said: ‘We are delighted to be collaborating with Tido Music, giving our students the chance to be at the cutting edge of music learning technology and benefit from the app’s many innovative features. Working with digital scores is a valuable experience in itself as the music sector becomes increasingly digitally focused. Through the Royal College of Music’s various digital development initiatives we are ensuring that our students are well equipped for 21st century music careers.’

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Brad Cohen, Founder of Tido, commented: ‘Using technology to enhance music education is at the heart of what we believe in at Tido. We’re thrilled to be partnering with such an illustrious institution as we continue to develop our product and further tailor it to the needs of music students. We look forward to working with RCM students directly throughout the course of their free subscription.’


Tido Music is a revolutionary digital subscription service for pianists and singers. Available as an iPad app or via desktop browser, the service provides sheet music, audio recordings, videos, interactive practice tools, written commentaries and images. For students, teachers, and amateur to professional performers, Tido Music offers unparalleled guidance and inspiration.

Tido was founded in 2013 when conductor and editor, Brad Cohen, collaborated with one of the world’s leading music publishers, Edition Peters. Kathryn Knight, former Publishing Director at Faber Music, joined the company as CEO in 2014. In 2015 Tido partnered with Faber Music to create the award-winning ‘Mastering the Piano with Lang Lang app’, and Tido’s flagship app Tido Music was released in late 2016.

Tido works with renowned publishers, artists, exam boards and institutions across the world including Bärenreiter, Edition Peters, Faber Music, Trinity College London and Wellington College International Shanghai.

Tido Music costs £4.99 per month after a 30-day free trial as standard.


Source: Tido Music press release

The Royal College of Music (RCM) has a strong tradition of pianists who have established themselves on the international stage in song and chamber music. Perhaps the most famous is Benjamin Britten who is often remembered for his duo performances with Peter Pears. Other song pianists who studied at the RCM include Julius Drake and Malcolm Martineau whilst Roger Vignoles is the current Prince Consort Professor, a position that Geoffrey Parsons also held.

In recent years both Gary Matthewman and Alisdair Hogarth have distinguished themselves as song pianists of note and there is a long list of former RCM students who have excelled as chamber musicians including Katya Apekisheva, Alisdair Beatson and Danny Driver. More recently, students have had successes in national and international competitions including Ian Tindale who won the pianist prize at both the Wigmore Hall Song Competition 2017 and Ferrier Competition and Gamal Khamis who won the pianist prize at the 2017 Ferrier Competition.

For those wanting to specialise in piano accompaniment, the RCM has a robust Masters course led by pianist Simon Lepper. During the two years of training, pianists not only develop a broad knowledge of the instrumental duo, chamber and song repertoire but they are introduced to the skills of being a répetiteur, ballet pianist, continuo player, orchestral pianist and vocal coach.

Previously-named the Masters in Piano Accompaniment, those beginning the course in the 2019/20 academic year will be following the Masters in Collaborative Piano. The renaming reflects the diversity of the course and the changing perception of what it is to be a pianist who follows a predominantly ‘non-solo’ career. For many years it has been thought that the term ‘collaborative piano’ was coined by the American, Samuel Sanders. However, it appeared much earlier and closer to our shores in a paper written in 1930 by the Irish pianist and composer Hamilton Harty. Below is a quote from ‘The Art of Pianoforte Accompaniment’ which offers a compelling argument for the change of name.

‘The chief cause for the neglect of the art of accompaniment is to be found in the absurd and unfortunate title of ‘Accompanist’, with all that it implies. Whatever may have been the justification for this name in the darkest early Victorian ages, it is now nothing but a stupid and misleading misnomer for a musician who is called upon to exhibit very rare and special qualities. “Collaborator” would be more explanatory and a much more desirable description…’

He goes on to expound both the practical and artistic benefits of following such a career path.

‘It is only common sense, then, to study a branch that will not only furnish one with at least a sufficiency to live on, but which will bring to one’s life the utmost musical pleasure and interest.’

ffwuzu-ySimon Lepper, Collaborative Piano Co-ordinator at the RCM, explains: ‘The renaming of the Royal College of Music’s piano accompaniment course reflects the evolving role of the collaborative musician, recognising their breadth of skill and acknowledging the diversity of opportunities on offer to those pursuing this rewarding career.’

Applications for the Royal College of Music’s Masters programme are open now. Information on courses and how to apply can be found on the RCM website at www.rcm.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate.

For further information about Collaborative Piano at the Royal College of Music please contact Simon Lepper (Collaborative Piano co-ordinator) simon.lepper@rcm.ac.uk

www.simonlepper.com

 

Oliver photoWho or what inspired you to take up composing, and make it your career? 

Like a great many other composers, the initial impetus or inspiration to write came from a deep-seated desire to emulate (and often imitate!) the music I had encountered in childhood and adolescence, through performing and learning music – in my case, through brass bands, orchestras and youth opera (I was blessed by the fact that Leeds County Council has an amazing music service with many inspirational teachers). Over time, I discovered the great power of music to express ideas about the world and about oneself, and this awoke in me the desire to make composition my vocation.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your composing and your musical career to date? 

My initial passions were fired by the English pastoral school, perhaps best represented by Vaughan-Williams and Holst. After this, I went through a Steve Reich phase (pun intended!), which had a very substantial impact upon my development, since it led me to realise that tonality could still be used in original and meaningful ways. Subsequently, I underwent a somewhat obsessive infatuation with Wagner, whose protean use of a wide variety of musical influences to create dramatic works of enormous philosophical depth planted in me the ambition to write opera. At this point, I re-discovered Benjamin Britten, who I came to see as a composer who had achieved equal dramatic mastery and psychological understanding, but in a more English and down-to-earth manner.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far? 

Undoubtedly my first two operas. Through these, I have learnt how to synthesise all my musical influences and gradually, from naïve beginnings, to write music and libretti which not only work poetically and musically but which also function well dramatically on the stage. Organising the performances and staging productions was just as much a challenge as the actual composition. For my first opera, The Nightingale and the Rose (after Oscar Wilde), written while I was still an undergraduate, I combined an orchestra of RCM students with the hundred-strong Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir and professional opera singers. My children’s opera, The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark (after Jill Tomlinson), then involved co-ordinating sixty primary-school children from around Cambridgeshire with professional musicians, as well as singers from Cambridge University, which was an even more formidable logistical challenge, since it meant one had to deal not only with some fairly mischievous young spirits, but also with their anxious parents!

What are the particular pleasures/challenges of working with individual artists, ensembles or orchestras? 

I always enjoy working with musicians and artists to bring a project into being. I would consider myself the entrepreneurial type, and tend to gather together a team of creative people to build a project around a dramatic conception. Collaboration involves a balance between allowing plenty of creative freedom to the individuals that you are working with, whilst striving to direct everybody’s energies towards a mutual goal. Maintaining this balance without creating too many frictions and tensions is always a challenge; the trick is to find people who share your ideals.

Please tell us more about your  opera Pincher Martin

Pincher Martin is an operatic adaptation of William Golding’s novel and poetic masterpiece. Recreating on the stage the existential plight of a marooned naval officer who struggles to survive first in the ocean, then on a lonely rocky islet in the middle of the Atlantic, has stretched my imagination to the limit, and has required the use of devices and technology which were previously unfamiliar to me. Throughout the course of the drama, we will be using a silver-screen movie-style cinematic backdrop, both to aid us in realising difficult scenarios such as a man drowning in the Atlantic, and to evoke the drama’s World War II setting.

Just one example of how this will work in practice is a scene in a moving motorcar, where the protagonist terrifies a woman with his dangerous and aggressive driving in a terrible attempt to make her acquiesce to his desires (yes, this is in the book…!). Musically, I have accompanied this scene with continuous unpitched and then pitched fluttertongues in four solo brass instruments, to evoke the sound of a car engine, first stationary and then in faster and faster motion. In terms of staging, this coordinates with the film, in that what is displayed on the screen is the view seen from the back seat of a car, first shaking very slightly as the car is parked in a layby with its engine idling, and then changing as the car moves off down the road. This is combined on-stage with the set, which in this case consists of a car bonnet behind which the protagonists will sit, with the backseat view behind them on the film. The bonnet itself is half-car, half-rock-like in substance, so that we can move expeditiously from a scene taking place on the rocky islet to this memory scene in the car, whilst also suggesting to the audience that the rock is actually an imaginary environment created by Pincher’s subconscious, and that we are dealing with scenes from his past life, which he is recalling during his purgatorial existence on the island.

Using this synthesis of music, film and staging to bring William Golding’s story to life has been an incredibly difficult challenge, but one which I am very glad to be undertaking, as it has expanded my creative world substantially.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians/composers? 

To be yourself whilst learning from others.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

To build a life where I can continue to realise my musical and dramatic ideas, whilst also starting a family with my wonderful and brilliant wife Helen (whose ambitions equal mine in her own field of scholarship), balancing both of these enormous challenges in harmony.

Oliver Rudland is an English composer based in Cambridge, UK, known for his accessible style of modern composition. His operas have received particular attention and critical acclaim.

His latest opera, ‘Pincher Martin’, based on the novel by William Golding, was staged at the RCM Britten Theatre in July 2014: ‘This is an eloquent, succinct opera… In music and design…, Pincher Martin pinched and gripped. This opera deserves to live.’ (The Times: ★★★★)

‘Rudland appears to have achieved that rare and valuable object: a contemporary work that is both challenging yet accessible. Despite its disturbing subject matter, Pincher Martin is lyrical, inventive, and above all a thoroughly engaging work.’ (Bachtrack: ★★★★)

His first opera, ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’, after the story by Oscar Wilde, was staged at the Carriageworks Theatre for four nights in 2008 by Leeds Youth Opera. ‘Exceptional talent…Oliver is going to be a big name in the future.’ (Yorkshire Evening Post)

In 2011, his children’s opera, ‘The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark’, based on the classic story by Jill Tomlinson, was staged at the Cambridge University Church, and received very positive reviews from critics and the local community alike: ‘This was children’s opera at its best; it was fun and accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds.’ (GSM News)

‘Benjamin Britten, his Noah, and bad-tempered God must almost regret that a couple of owls made their way into the ark to reproduce themselves towards so effective a rival opera.’ (Music and Vision)

His chamber works have been performed at the Cheltenham International Music Festival, the Southbank Centre, and the DiMenna Center (NYC), as well as at other venues worldwide. His trombone sonata, ‘The Conquests of Zeus’, commissioned by Matthew Gee, principal trombonist of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, has been performed widely across Europe.

Oliver is currently Composer-in-Residence with the London Choral Sinfonia. He is also working towards a new large-scale, two-act opera due for completion in 2020.

Further information: www.oliverrudland.com

What is your first memory of the piano? 

A dark black shiny upright in my parents living-room that I couldn’t stay away from. Never mind dolls and toys…..this became the most irresistible, exciting, time-consuming and total love of my earliest years

Who or what inspired you to start teaching?

I’ve always loved people and helping/ sharing: even as a child if I learned something myself – my joy was to share it with others, in order to derive complete enjoyment and satisfaction from it.

Who were your most memorable/significant teachers? 

I was lucky with my teachers throughout: firstly, my earliest teacher (an unknown German lady called Else Schumann) inspired me, through her belief in my talent (I was 10 or 11 years old) and her encouragement of my natural gifts. Then, the wonderful Sidney Harrison who selected me (from those auditioning for the Junior Department at GSMD) to study with him, from the age of 11, and who continued to boost my confidence with his encouragement and delight in my abilities. Finally, the significance and importance of the legendary Greek pianist, Gina Bachauer, my mentor and “musical mother” and my beloved Ilona Kabos (the distinguished Hungarian teacher to so many of the great pianists) from the age of 15, who changed my way of thinking, attitude, and started me on the “road to artistry”. I also spent a wonderful six months in Paris, concentrating on French music with another legendary figure, Jacques Fevrier. Altogether the strongest and best influences one could ever hope for.

Who or what are the most important influences on your teaching? 

I think my work with Ilona Kabos planted the seeds from which my own “methods and ideas” grew: the importance of sound, understanding the depths and possibilities, the keyboard has to offer and how vital is stylistic awareness.

Most memorable/significant teaching experiences?

All my teaching experiences have brought their own memorable and significant moments……but, I think (in terms of working with great young talent) the years of teaching for the Horowitz Foundation, in Kiev, Ukraine have been the most exciting and rewarding.

What are the most exciting/challenging aspects of teaching adults?

If you mean, late beginners……. I have not much experience in this area but, would be fascinated by the challenge of dealing with the physical problems that may hamper the speed of learning to “make music”!

What do you expect from your students? 

A huge sense of responsibility to serve the music, at all times.

What are your views on exams, festivals and competitions? 

Wonderful experience, if dealt with correctly………from an emotional/psychological standpoint.

What do you consider to be the most important concepts to impart to beginning students, and to advanced students? 

I repeat, that all we do has to serve the music………i.e. that every technical problem, ceases to be that, if making sense of and finding the spirit of the music, is the goal. Obviously, with beginners an understanding of how the hands and keyboard connect, and the raison d’etre, is vital.

What are your thoughts on the link between performance and teaching? 

Again, vital! I do believe it is imperative to have an understanding of what it means to perform, at a certain level, before one can deal with the problems the would-be-performer has to face. Also, it is only when one has prepared oneself at the highest level can one understand how to help prepare another.

How do you approach the issue of performance anxiety/tension? 

Very difficult and requires much thought and understanding of the student’s mentality and personality. Everyone is different and these different problems have to be dealt with, accordingly.

Who are your favourite pianists/pianist-teachers and why? 

I adore Murray Perahia and, on the odd occasions, when I’ve heard him teach……..I adore his logic and humanity. I’m sure, my idol, Grigory Sokolov, would make a fantastic teacher (if he were to have the time and desire!) as his understanding of sound quality/ quantity, is second to none.

 

Norma Fisher will be teaching at London Master Classes 2014 Summer Master Course, July 8 -13 at the Royal Academy of Music and Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, July 8-13 www.londonmasterclasses.com, Accademia J.S.Bach, Sardinia, July 19-29 2014, and MusicFest Perugia, Italy, August 2014 

Norma Fisher is acclaimed internationally as one of the UK’s leading pianists and teachers.  As a child she was recognised as ‘a rare musical talent’ winning an exhibition, at the age of eleven, to study with Sidney Harrison at the Guildhall School of Music.  At the age of fourteen she came to the attention of the celebrated Greek pianist Gina Bachauer who became her mentor, introducing her to the distinguished Hungarian teacher IlonaKabos, with whom she subsequently studied. A period was also spent in Paris studying French music with Jacques Fevrier. 

Her many, highly acclaimed, early performances for the BBC led to an invitation by the German radio station RIAS, in Berlin, to make her debut with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra – which launched her career in Europe. Success in the Busoni International Piano Competition as a top prize-winner followed and in 1963, when she shared the much-coveted Piano Prize in the Harriet Cohen International Music Awards with Vladimir Ashkenazy, her international reputation was sealed.  That same year she made her debut at the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall and became a favourite soloist with leading British orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, London Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Hallé, Bournemouth Symphony, and the City of Birmingham Symphony orchestras. 

Norma Fisher is known for her versatility as a performer, receiving recognition worldwide as one of Britain’s leading pianists. This versatility extends to chamber music, which she plays with leading musicians throughout the world.  Her early relationship with the Dartington, Allegri and Delme String Quartets led to a much sought-after partnership with the Stamic Quartet of Prague, both in the UK and the Czech Republic. She has also performed regularly with the International Chamber Ensemble of Rome, Carmina Quartet and Reykjavik Wind Quintet and partnered such well known soloists as Stephanie Gonley, Alan Hacker, Maurice Hasson, Emanuel Hurwitz, Ralph Kirshbaum, Steven Isserlis, Peter Lukas Graf, GyorgyPauk, Hu Kun, Sylvia Rosenberg, GrigoriZhislin, Yossi Zivoni and singers Benjamin Luxon, Sherrill Milnes, Nelly Miricioiu and Sir John Tomlinson. 

Her reputation as a teacher is widely established and many of her top prize-winning students are well known on the international concert circuit. She is aProfessor of Piano at the Royal College of Music and a Fellow of the Royal Northern College of Music.She is invited to give masterclasses throughout the world and has taught at the International Musician’s Seminar at Prussia Cove, UK, the International Summer Academy in Lenk, Switzerland and the Horowitz Foundation Summer Music Academy in Kiev, Ukraine, amongst many others. She is regularly invited on the Jury of leading international piano competitions including Gina Bachauer (USA), Horowitz (Kiev, Ukraine), Joanna Hodges (USA), Boston Grand Amateurs (USA), Newport (Wales), Sydney (Australia), Tbilisi (Georgia) and Virginia Waring (USA),  

She is the Artistic Director of London Master Classes (www.londonmasterclasses.com) whose courses attract major talent from around the world to work intensively with top performers/teachers in London. London Master Classes 2014 will celebrate 26 years of offering these prestigious events. 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the great pleasures of being an active member of the ‘Twitterati’ is the opportunity to connect with all sorts of interesting people around the world, who share similar interests to me. While many I will probably never meet outside the Twittersphere, I have met a few of my fellow Twitterers at concerts, for lunch and at other events (amusingly, at a recent Bachtrack party, a fellow reviewer and I identified each other by our Twitter call-signs, rather than our real names!). One of these is the left-handed pianist Nicholas McCarthy, and last night I attended Nicholas’s graduation recital in the lovely Amaryllis Fleming hall at the Royal College of Music.

Nicholas McCarthy

Nicholas was born without his right hand; that he plays the piano beautifully with just his left hand is remarkable in itself. What is more remarkable is that he only started playing the piano seriously when he was 14. He has studied with Lucy Parham at the Guildhall School of Music & Dance, and, since 2008, with Nigel Clayton at the RCM. This summer he will perform with the Paraorchestra (an initiative of conductor Charles Hazlewood) in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paraolympics.

There has been something of a theme of left-handed piano repertoire and performance on my blog recently: ‘Meet the Artist’ interviews with Nicholas and another left-handed pianist Keith Snell (who was forced to switch to left-handed repertoire when he developed focal dystonia in his right hand), and a guest post on the history of left-hand piano, also by Keith Snell. There are some very well-known works for the left-hand, perhaps most notably, piano music by Godowsky and Scriabin. For his graduation recital, Nicholas selected a programme which contained no music by these “greats” of the left-hand repertoire. Instead, he opened with the graceful Meditation from Prelude No. 1, Gounod’s transcription which intertwines Bach’s sublime Prelude in C from the WTC with Gounod’s ‘Ave Maria’. The rest of the programme was a mixture of well-known works (‘Casta Diva’ from Norma, arranged by Fumagalli, Morgen! by Strauss, transcribed for left-hand by Jonathan Mann, and Du Bist die Ruh, Liszt’s transcription of Schubert’s song, transcribed by left-handed pianist Paul Wittgenstein) and less familiar repertoire, including a moody rendition of Britten’s The Miller of Dee (transcribed especially for Nicholas) and a work written for Nicholas by Anglo-French composer Tim Benjamin called Et Nous Les Os. With its unsettling clusters of sound high up in the treble and its plangent, sonorous chords in the bass, it was redolent of Liszt and Messiaen in both its scope and soundworld.

Nicholas is an elegant and understated performer. The movements and gestures he makes are so precise, so measured, so fluid that very soon one forgets he is playing with just his left hand. And his playing is not confined to the lower registers of the piano: far from it. At times, he moved nimbly between the furthest reaches of the keyboard as the score dictated, and the final piece of the programme, Der Erlkonig, provided a particularly physical work out. (As I said to him afterwards, “it’s difficult enough with both hands!”) His dynamic control was impressive, his tone and voicing poetic and subtly nuanced: achingly tender in the Meditation, growling and agitated in Erlkonig.

The whole programme was delightful, well planned with pleasing shifts in energy and mood, and beautifully presented. For me, the Tim Benajmin piece was the highlight, but I enjoyed every minute of it, and it was lovely to have the opportunity to meet Nicholas’s (very proud!) mum afterwards, and to congratulate Nick on a wonderful performance.

Nicholas’s Meet the Artist interview

Website: www.nicholasmccarthy.co.uk

Tim Benjamin composer

The Paraorchestra

Guest Post: A history of left-hand piano