Category Archives: Classical

The UK’s first BAME Orchestra at the Proms

Hailed by critics as ‘fresh’ and ‘brilliant’, the UK’s first majority BAME orchestra Chineke! makes its Proms debut in a programme including works by Pulitzer Prize-winning George Walker and young British composer Hannah Kendall, whose The Spark Catchers takes inspiration from the urgent energy of Lemn Sissay’s poem of the same name.

Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician competition, soprano Jeanine De Bique and conductor Kevin John Edusei all make their Proms debut here.

There will be no interval

Please note that this event contains an update to the concert programme from that in BBC Proms 2017 Festival Guide

Broadcast on BBC Four, 8 September

Image: Kevin John Edusei © Marco Borggreve

Prom 62: Chineke!
22:15 Wed 30 Aug 2017 Royal Albert Hall

Tickets for this Event

Booking fee information

Seats £7.50 to £25 (plus booking fee)

The Chineke! Foundation was established in 2015 to provide career opportunities to young Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) classical musicians in the UK and Europe. Chineke!’s motto is: ‘Championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music’. The organisation aims to be a catalyst for change, realising existing diversity targets within the industry by increasing the representation of BME musicians in British and European orchestras.


The Foundation’s flagship ensemble, the Chineke! Orchestra, is comprised of exceptional musicians from across the continent brought together multiple times per year. As Europe’s first majority-BME orchestra, the Chineke! Orchestra performs a mixture of standard orchestral repertoire along with the works of BME composers both past and present.


Chineke! is the brainchild of Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, who has this say about the project: ‘My aim is to create a space where BME musicians can walk on stage and know that they belong, in every sense of the word. If even one BME child feels that their colour is getting in the way of their musical ambitions, then I hope to inspire them, give them a platform, and show them that music, of whatever kind, is for all people.’

Many cultural organisations such as the BBC, Association of British Orchestras, Royal Philharmionic Society and Arts Council England agree with this sentiment, and have supported Chineke! After its launch concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in September of 2015, the Chineke! Orchestra was appointed as an Associate Orchestra of the Southbank Centre, and returned there to perform in September of 2016 at the Royal Festival Hall. After a sold-out debut at St George’s Bristol in April 2017, the Chineke! Orchestra has an exciting series of concerts lined up for the coming year, including appearances at the Brighton, Cheltenham and Salisbury Festivals, a return to the Royal Festival Hall, overseas tours to Ghent and Rotterdam, and an engagement at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms.

MusAid-Empowering Musicians Around the World

The MusAid Fellowship Program from Emanuele Michetti on Vimeo.

MusAid connects musicians across the globe through educational exchanges designed to inspire individual and community transformation.

Through the MusAid Fellowship, musicians have the unique opportunity to teach, perform and develop their artistic leadership ability at socially driven music programs around the world. Through our innovative and immersive program, MusAid seeks to empower a new generation of globally and socially aware musicians.


MusAid is a 501(c)3 non-profit that connects musicians across the globe through educational exchanges designed to inspire individual and community transformation.

Through the MusAid Fellowship, musicians have the unique opportunity to teach, perform and develop their teaching ability at socially driven music programs around the world during two-week long summer workshops. Through our innovative and immersive program, MusAid seeks to inspire a new generation of socially and globally aware musicians.  Alongside empowering the Fellows that attend our workshops, MusAid tailors each summer workshop to the specific needs of our partner schools in order to provide them with the tools and knowledge necessary for their growth and self-sustainability.


Founded in 2008, MusAid has supported music schools and orchestras in Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Burma, Haiti, Belize, El Salvador, Bolivia and the Philippines with donated instruments and volunteer teacher training workshops through the MusAid Fellowship.


The impetus to begin MusAid arose from the founder, Kevin Schaffter, who while living and studying music in Asia, saw the struggle and difficulties that many musicians face in various parts of the world from having poor access to proper educational opportunities and music instruction.

It is heart wrenching to witness the dreams and aspirations of musicians crushed by the lack of the most basic materials necessary to pursue their art. Our vision is one where artists from any cultural or financial background should be granted the opportunity to share their unique artistic voices with their community. In this world of materialistic ideals it is too often forgotten that the greatest contributions to art come from within each individual and collectively, through the international language of music, reveal the simple and beautiful similarity between all human beings.

Arts are more crucial now than ever before. Globalization has shrunk the world, increasing the need to preserve cultural diversity and identity. The arts, including music, have always been an integral part of every society and are a pure reflection of the creativity, the search for beauty, and the spirit common in all of us. Music has an immense power to inspire, to heal, touch hearts and emotions, and to uplift us. It allows humanity to set physical and political differences aside, and to work in harmony to produce something universally appreciated.

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The Fantastic Flutewise at Abbotsholme 2017

Young flute players always enjoy our courses at this beautiful venue. Book Flutewise today!

Flutewise at Abbotsholme is a fantastic residential flute course for young players from the age of 8 to 18, from approximately Grade 1 to diploma level.  Abbotsholme is a beautiful venue in the heart of the countryside on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border near Alton Towers.
Fantastic Flute Fun with Flutewise at Abbotsholme
The course runs from Thursday 27 to Sunday 30 July and it is possible to come for the whole course or one or two nights only.
Discounts available for bookings before 30 June.
Full details can be found on our website.
Beautiful Abbotsholme
The Flutewise Trust is a registered charity and has the highest possible child safe-guarding policies. We have been running course since 1988. During the course, which is staffed by extremely experienced flute teaches and professional players, we cover a wide range of playing, music making and performance as well as social activities. Everything is carefully planned with the individual in mind. Parents can rest assured that their young flute player will have a rewarding time in a safe, friendly and stimulating environment.
The Flutewise Team

Stephen Kovacevich will be performing Bach’s Partita No.4 in D Major.

An exciting evening of music, song, and art, in the beautiful and ancient church of St Mary the Virgin in Ladywell, Lewisham.

The legendary American classical pianist and conductor Stephen Kovacevich will be performing Bach’s Partita No.4 in D Major.

Also performing will be a flute quartet supported by local musicians and singers performing a variety of pieces.

In addition there will be a short talk by Susan Jones from the Courtauld Institute of Art on the fascinating 1432 painting by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, the Ghent Altarpiece. It was recently described as ‘arguably the most glorious extant work from the late Middle Ages’.

Half of all proceeds from the concert will go to the charity St.Mungo’s, who are working to end homelessness and rebuild lives. They provide a bed and support to more than 2,600 people a night who are homeless or at risk.

For a suggested donation of £10 you can sponsor your very own key on the piano that Stephen Kovacevich will be playing at the concert! For this you can have your name mentioned in the concert programme, and as the piano hire cost is £880 and there are 88 keys to sponsor we will have paid for the piano.

The rest of the concert proceeds will go toward the Lewisham Park (Crescent) Residents’ Association, who work to improve the park for the local community, planting trees and providing new benches and rubbish bins. The Association chose to support St.Mungo’s because as homelessness in Lewisham, and indeed London, becomes increasingly evident, numbers of people have been rough-sleeping in the park, even in the cold of the winter months.

Stephen Kovacevich is known as one of the most prominent interpreters among living pianists and his recordings, including Bach, Beethoven and Bartók, have astonished even the most demanding of critics. He has directed the London Mozart Players, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and his chamber music partners have included Jacqueline du Pre, Martha Argerich, Steven Isserlis, Nigel Kennedy, Lyn Harrell, Sarah Chang, Gautier and Renaud Capucon, and Emmanuel Pahud.

J.S. Bach composed six keyboard Partitas, or suites of dances, that have become a landmark of the pianist’s repertory, even though the music was probably originally conceived for the harpsichord.

The Fourth Partita, in D major, is arguably the most cohesive in the collection, and it demonstrates Bach’s unfailing imagination and skill, with its’ rich variety of styles and moods, from the pensive to the virtuosic.

Tonight’s Partita was composed between 1726–1729 and is the fourth suite in his Clavier-Ubung (Keyboard Practice). It consists of seven movements in D major.

  1. Ouverture (The beginning is in two time, and then moves into three)
  2. Allemande
  3. Courante
  4. Aria
  5. Sarabande
  6. Menuet
  7. Gigue

In keeping with a nineteenth-century naming tradition that labelled Bach’s first set of Suites English and the second French,the Partitas are sometimes referred to as the German Suites. This title, however, is a publishing convenience; there is nothing particularly German about the Partitas. In comparison with the two earlier sets of suites, the Partitas are by far the most free-ranging in terms of structure. Unlike the English Suites, for example, wherein each opens with a strict prelude, the Partitas feature a number of different opening styles including an ornamental Overture and a Toccata.

More info and tickets

A Piano Competition with a Difference

Would you like to enter a piano composition competition via the internet without leaving home?
it’s very simple to participate, you only need to play your own piano composition (1 to 4 minutes) and send the audio file. You don’t need to send the score, just the audio file.
Inscription: 10 euros or equivalent in dollars. 3 money prizes, cd’s and certificate.
In this competition you choose the winner of the cash prizes through a voting system published on the web. The deadline to submit your composition is 20th May 2017. When you enter the voting rounds you only vote for the music you listen to without knowing the author’s name or pseudonym. It’s only known when the final results are given that their identity is revealed.
There is something new this year. After receiving some suggestions from last year’s participants, own works will not be included in groups each one use to vote and the first of the three cash prizes rises. You always will be very welcome. 
Enter here to read complete guidelines:
49 countries took part in past Fidelio piano competitions!
With best wishes
Antonio Ruiz Asumendi (Fidelio Manager)

Azerbaijan International Ambassador: Soprano, Gulshan Ibadova

It is with great pride that we can announce that Gulshan Ibadova is to represent the musicians of Azerbaijan for the FFM community. We look forward to hearing  news and updates on the music scene in the beautiful country of Azerbaijan.

GULSHAN IBADOVA SOPRANO Azerbaijan.Baku.Khatai rayon. R.Bagirov 39.2 Tel: +994557280116 e-mail:



To become an ambassador for your country, email Roger Moisan directly at introducing yourself, outlining your musical story and what you can offer to this role.


Interview with recent Chicago Symphony second flute audition winner Emma Gerstein

Emma Gerstein, principal flute of the Auckland Philharmonia in New Zealand, has recently won the second flute position in the Chicago Symphony.  We talk to Emma about her experience playing with the orchestra, her audition preparation process and ask her for general audition advice.

  • How long have you been playing with the Auckland Philharmonia? Is the experience what you expected?

I applied via an “expression of interest” last December, and I moved to Auckland to do a 5 month contract starting in February.  The audition for the tenure-track position was in April.  It’s been a joy to live in such a beautiful country, even for such a short time, and to get to play in this orchestra.  I adore my colleagues!

  • What have been some of the highlights playing with the orchestra?

Our Music Director, Giordano Bellincampi, was also new to the APO last season.  He is so wonderful at pushing the orchestra to play to the highest standard.  He expects so much of us, which makes me want to be better all the time.  When he’s on the podium, there’s a real sense that he’s listening and reacting to what’s going on, and that he loves the music.  We did a semi-staged version of Verdi’s Otello with Giordano last July, and it’s a performance I will definitely remember forever.

  • How was your audition day for the Chicago Symphony? How did it compare to other auditions you have taken?

The prelim round was in November, and I flew back to Chicago from Auckland a few days before.  I was worried about how jetlag may impact my playing. I had never traveled so far for an audition before (I had already been in NZ for 2 months before the APO audition), so I felt more pressure than usual because I had invested more.  Also, this was a job I wanted more than just about any other I’d ever gone for – for all of the obvious reasons, but additionally because I grew up in Chicago. On the day I felt the normal nervous audition feelings, only amplified by about 10.

  • How did you feel after your first round?  Did you expect to advance?

I thought I played well, but I really wasn’t sure.  Some things didn’t go according to plan, but others went well. I was hopeful but not super confident. When they announced my number I was so relieved, but then also instantly stressed again.  The finals were almost 3 months later, so I knew I’d have to keep practicing the list.

  • What are some musical factors that you believe help set musicians apart at an audition?

I was able to sit on an audition panel in the APO as a non-voting member, and it was really interesting to be on the other side of the screen.  I think many people are consumed by the technical process of playing their instrument, and they forget that they are making music.  Of course one should strive to play in tune, in time, with a nice sound, etc.  But I think what really sets someone apart is also showing musical style, phrasing, and making that unique and personal to you.  No one wants or expects to hear total perfection, and I think committee members can be more forgiving about small mistakes than I had assumed.

  • How did you prepare for the audition?  Did you follow any kind of regimen? 

I wanted to feel really comfortable with the list, which was massive, so I started about 6 weeks before the prelim. My normal audition m.o. was to procrastinate and then cram, which was occasionally successful but mostly just made me feel super stressed. I worked to maintain my fundamentals during this time – practicing exercises for articulation, vibrato, as well as scales, long tones, etc.  I listened to the pieces A LOT.  Even the ones I felt I knew well. It’s a good reminder of the context, and it helps to keep everything feeling fresh, even if you’ve played the excerpt literally thousands of times.  I also tried to take care of myself, both physically and mentally.  I cut back on coffee and alcohol, and tried to sleep enough and to get exercise.

  • What advice can you offer to those on the audition circuit?

Don’t compare yourselves to others.  I wasted so much time either validating myself or putting myself down based on how other people were doing around me.  There’s no sense focusing on this. I was very inconsistent for a long time.  I still don’t know why I did “well” in certain auditions, and not in others.  So much of this process is totally out of your control, and whether or not you advance or win does not define you as a musician or as a person.


Emma Gerstein is currently Principal Flute of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in New Zealand.  In February 2017 she was appointed to the position of Second Flute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Riccardo Muti, which she will begin in September 2017.  Prior to the APO Emma was a Flute Fellow at the New World Symphony for two and a half seasons and Principal Flute of the Lexington Philharmonic for one.  She studied with Thomas Robertello at Indiana University (MM) and Robert Langevin at Manhattan School of Music (BM).   For more info go to

An interview with Matthew Winter, solo bass trombonist with the Finnish Radio Orchestra

Matthew Winter is currently solo bass trombonist with the Finnish Radio Symphony. A position he won while an undergraduate student at the Juilliard School.  We talk to Matthew about his experience playing with the orchestra, the differences between auditions in the United States and Europe, his audition preparation process and also ask for general audition advice.

  • How long have you been playing with the Finnish Radio Symphony? Is the experience what you expected?

I started playing in the Finnish radio orchestra in the 2015/2016 season on a one year contract (via tape audition) after my mentor and former teacher at Juilliard Denson Paul Pollard decided to leave his position with the FRSO and return to the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. I won the full time position at the end of the season in May.

I have to say I had not heard many recordings of the orchestra prior to moving to Helsinki. But I was really impressed with the quality of musicianship and how welcoming everyone was.

  • What have been some of the highlights playing with the orchestra?

There are many benefits to playing in the FRSO. One is that we tour a lot. In fact during my first season we did a tour of Japan as well as one in Austria. The Austrian tour was especially fun for me because I had always wanted to visit and it was my first time there. The program included Shostakovich’s fifth symphony, Adams Short Ride in a fast machine, as well John Adams Violin Concerto Sheherazade.2 with the great violinist Leila Josefowicz.

The other thing about the FRSO is that we record multiple cds every year. My very first rehearsals with the orchestra were for an upcoming cd of compositions by Erkki Melartin and Magnus Lindberg.  Magnus Lindberg was present for the recording which was very exciting. Its always a treat to play music for the composer. The camaraderie in our Low brass section as well as the rest of the orchestra was especially great when we were recording.

  • How many auditions had you taken before the Finnish Radio Symphony?

Finland was my 9th audition.

  • How was your audition day? How did it compare to other auditions you have taken?

The audition was two days. The first day we played a preliminary round and the second day we had a semi final, final and super final round. All prelims and semi final rounds were behind a screen, which is fairly similar to my experience with other auditions. However, the first round consisted of a solo work, Norman Bolter’s Sagittarius 2, and then excerpts which is different than many auditions I have taken where you play excerpts first and solos in the later rounds.
The convenient thing about those two days was that they were extremely well organized by the orchestra management. Everyone had their own rooms to warm up in and things went almost exactly according to schedule which doesn’t happen at most auditions from my personal experience.

  • Was your experience taking an audition outside the United States what you expected?  Were there differences compared to auditions based in the United States?

This audition was actually my third European audition so I had a vague idea of some of the logistical differences between auditions in Europe vs. the U.S. As I said earlier the European auditions often start with a solo which in the U.S. is not typically the case. They also do not auto advance candidates like in the U.S. Everyone has to play a preliminary round regardless of their qualifications.  Another interesting thing about many auditions in Europe including Finland is that the committees listening are much larger. In the Final round for the FRSO the screen came down and there were over twenty people including the conductor sitting in front of me, which was a bit surprising and uncomfortable at first. I remember finishing my Final round and the whole committee applauding (which they do for all finalists) and not being quite sure whether to bow or to just give a quick nod and leave the room.

  • How did you feel after your first round?  Did you expect to advance?

My first round felt very secure. But I recall being very nervous before hand and knowing that a job that I really wanted was on the line. However I committed to going for it and I felt confident afterwards that I would advance.

  • What are some musical factors that you believe help set musicians apart at an audition?

One of my colleagues in the FRSO Darren Acosta had a very good answer to this question. He said there are three different levels of playing in an audition. No. 1 is having the basic fundamentals such as sound, pitch, rhythm etc. No. 2 is the basic sense of style for each excerpt. In other words playing with appropriate dynamics, and articulations. No. 3 is being able to communicate emotionally with your listener, which is very rare to hear in an audition. But if you can achieve that you can really set yourself apart from everyone else. I think the candidate who can let go of the technique to a degree and really take a risk musically is at an advantage.

  • How did you prepare for the audition?  Did you follow any kind of regimen? 

My preparation for this audition was very intense. Prior to the audition I decided to send an email to Mark Inouye (principal trumpet of san francisco symphony)  and ask him how he prepared for auditions. He said he would play through 6-7 excerpts, record them, listen back at half speed and take very specific notes on each excerpt. Then practice those things he had written in his notes and once he was finished, he would repeat the same process with 6-7 other excerpts. I really can’t thank Mark Inouye enough for his advice. So I did this regime 6 days a week for 4 weeks. When you pratice this much its good to take a day off from audition repertoire. In addition, I compiled a playlist on spotify of all the orchestral works and solos on the Audition list. Then I would do a mock audition nearly everyday. I would either do this for my tape recorder, one of my low brass colleagues or other members of the orchestra. This was very helpful. The more different instrumentalists you can play for the more you learn about your strengths and weaknesses as a performer. It also gives you great insight as to what audition committees want to hear.

  • What advice can you offer to those on the audition circuit?

I would say that the biggest assets we have as musicians are work ethic, diligence and personality. If you are willing to put in the time, never quit and allow yourself to be who you are, I believe you will succeed eventually. There’s a Babe Ruth quote aboutdiligence I find very motivating. “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”  We have to understand that its important to be content with our playing and musicianship regardless of whether we win an audition or not. We need to keep reminding ourselves why we chose to perform in the first place, that way we can persevere through difficult times when we don’t get the results we are hoping for.


Matthew Winter is currently the solo bass trombonist of the Finnish radio Symphony Orchestra. A position he won while pursuing his bachelors degree at the Juilliard School.  Previously Mr. Winter was also a member of the Verbier Festival Orchestra for two summers.

In addition to this he has performed with distinguished ensembles such as the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and the New York City Ballet Orchestra. He has worked with great conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Paavo Jarvi, David Zinman, Manfred Honeck, Alan Gilbert, Michael Thilson Thomas, Ivan Fischer, and Gianandrea Noseda.

When Mr. Winter is not playing trombone he enjoys composing and playing the piano. His trombone quartet “ildiko” was premiered at the Juilliard School in 2014 for the non-major composition competition and was selected to be performed in Alice Tully Hall. This work was also premiered in Spain in the summer of 2015 and recently in Finland and Estonia.


Can I Win an Audition While Working a Job?

Jason Heath