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Stop Press: Arts News

Historic UK institutions join forces to train the world’s next great musicians and actors

Birmingham Conservatoire

Birmingham Conservatoire and Birmingham School of Acting are to merge, in a move designed to produce a single world-class home for developing the next generation of talented, versatile performers.

The merger will see both the music and acting arms of Birmingham City University unite as Birmingham Conservatoire. It brings together acting and musical talent to give students the skills they need to meet the demands of today’s fast-paced creative economy.

Marking the event, the Principal of the new Birmingham Conservatoire, Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, spoke on March 1st at Birmingham Town Hall, pointing out that the integration of these two institutions coincides with the opening of a new £57 million home for the current Birmingham Conservatoire on the University’s City Centre Campus later this year.

It will sit just metres away from the current School of Acting and Birmingham City University’s wealth of media and recording facilities, including four TV studios and Europe’s largest static green screen. The new Conservatoire will feature five public performance spaces, including a new concert hall for orchestral training and performance, private rehearsal and practice rooms, and teaching spaces for performers from a variety of disciplines.

Professor David Roberts, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at Birmingham City University said: “We will continue to produce brilliant specialists in both acting and music but this merger emphasises the growing need for fluidity between disciplines – musicians able to draw on performance skills or promote their work across digital channels, or actors and set designers delivering performances where music and musicality are essential to the artistic results.

“Bringing together Birmingham Conservatoire and Birmingham School of Acting is a natural extension of the phenomenal new music teaching and performance spaces we are developing at our University’s City Centre campus, which will be located alongside our existing state-of-the-art production and recording facilities.”

Birmingham Conservatoire traces it roots back to 1859 and is one of the most respected music education institutions in the UK, devoted to the training of highly talented musicians in performance and composition. Professor Julian Lloyd Webber continued: “Our students are always at the heart of everything we do and this merger will give our graduates the best opportunities for future success in an increasingly competitive world. Working with the Birmingham School of Acting will strengthen our capacity to respond rapidly to the constantly changing needs of the industry and incorporate this directly into teaching practice.”

Birmingham School of Acting has been a City Centre institution since 1936 and now comprises 11 studios, including a large performance studio, setting a new benchmark for drama training facilities in the UK. Professor Stephen Simms, Vice Principal – Acting, Birmingham Conservatoire, commented: “Collaboration between our two institutions is already happening – for example, Conservatoire musicians compose and perform original music for graduate productions – but the merger will fuel many more exciting partnerships and unique opportunities for all our students.”


John McLeod will this year become the first ‘Composer in Residence’ at Chetham’s International Summer School and Festival for Pianists.

In addition to teaching and lecturing, John McLeod’s entire works for solo piano (including the five Piano Sonatas) will be performed over a series of late-night recitals by Murray McLachlan. John McLeod, one of Scotland’s leading composers, was recently made a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.


British Army Offers a Role that’s ‘Music to your ears’

A “Golden Hello” of up to £10,000 has been launched to help persuade talented musicians to consider a career in the British Army.  Musicians who perform to an advanced level at audition and subsequently complete Phase 2 training (specialist training for Army Corps of Music personnel) within two terms at The Royal Military School of Music will be eligible for a one off lump sum of £10,000. Those who perform above the minimum entry level (but not to advanced level) will be offered £4,000.

As a full-time member of the Corps of Army Music, soldiers are able to play music as part of their job and benefit from the range of opportunities the Army has to offer. These include travelling overseas, taking part in adventure training, and gaining professional and practical qualifications.

About the Corps of Army Music. The Corps of Army Music’s 22 bands specialise in a wide range of music genres, meaning that almost every musician will find their style of playing catered for in the Regular Army. For example, there are dedicated wind bands, brass bands, mounted bands, marching bands and rock and pop bands, as well as jazz and saxophone groups, a string orchestra and brass ensembles.

In addition to offering musicians a “Golden Hello” payment, the British Army offers full-time soldiers a competitive salary of £18,305 after training. The “Golden Hello” scheme is available to new recruits, to internal transferees from other Corps and Regiments within the Army, to those transferring from the Army Reserve to the Regular Army and to those who want to re-join the Army, which offers the opportunity to attain qualifications including a Business and Technology Council (BTEC) Music Level 3, an Associate Diploma Trinity

College London (ATCL) in musical performance and a Licentiate Diploma Trinity College London (LTCL) in conducting. The starting annual salary is £18,305 after training plus pension. In comparison, the UK’s national average apprentice earns £6,846 and may not have job security at the end of their apprentice, plus opportunities to travel overseas for operations, sport and peacekeeping, from training in Kenya to supporting the UN in Cyprus, and adventurous training from mountaineering in the Himalayas, to sky-diving in Florida. Access is free to gym, sports facilities and the chance to train with the very best coaches. You receive 30 days annual holiday on top of all the usual bank holidays, and extra time off in lieu of operations. Any required medical procedures or dental work is paid for by the Army and is carried out by fully qualified Army personnel or private practices where necessary. For more information about the Corps of Army Music, visit www.army.mod.uk/music  or call the specialist recruiting team on 0121 633 6450.


1949 to 1952 back numbers of Musical Opinion

We have received details of a donation of back issues of Musical Opinion to the Oxfam books and music shop at 24, the Hundred, Romsey. These editions cover an interesting time in the development of musical life in the UK, after the devastation of WW2. Each edition is complete, with the original binding, and is free from damage. However, the staples are showing rust, which is not surprising. 

As for value, we would ask your readers to bear in mind postage costs; each copy weighs around 165gms. 

1949: Nov & Dec; 1950: Jan,July,Aug; 1951: Jan,Feb,Mar,Apr,June,Aug,Sep,Oct, Nov; 1952: Jan, Feb, Mar.

Could interested readers please email in the first instance? Wendy Hughill (oxfamshopf4020@oxfam.org.uk)


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