Category Archives: Music news

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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FFM and the David Kiwana Wind Classics

Freedom for Musicians in association with Jazz for Peace will be staging an outstanding event to support the young musicians of Uganda.

Jazz for Peace is an American professional jazz organization with the goal of promoting unity and peace across cultures through the performance of music. They also seek to increase arts and music education in schools. Its motto is “Uniting People Through the Artform of Jazz”. The organization was founded by jazz pianist and vocalist Rick DellaRatta.


“By bringing Israeli, Palestinian and American Jazz musicians together Rick DellaRatta and Jazz for Peace have used the transcendent quality of music to promote a message of peace and unity. Now, over 500 concerts later, Jazz for Peace continues its mission of challenging humanity to realize that the forces that unite us are far stronger than the forces that divide us.”

“I want to congratulate Rick and Jazz for Peace on everything they have accomplished to this point, and all the good they are sure to bring about as they continue this concert series….”

                                                    ~ United States President Barack Obama

“On behalf of the residents of New York City I commend Rick DellaRatta and Jazz for Peace.”                                    

                                                    ~ Mayor Michael Bloomberg

“…steadfast and creative….Jazz for Peace unites the world of the arts with the arenas for justice. May other musical and artistic groups emulate your example and your consistency” For Peace and Justice,

                                                      ~ Ralph Nader  

“International Jazz Day could not happen without partners like Jazz for Peace….using concerts, community outreach and education programs to raise support and awareness for local and international charities…to promote charitable and service-based activities that help make a positive difference in the world…to unify and empower the vulnerable in our society. We are indebted to you for your steadfast support, and look forward to working with you…”                                                    ~ Herbie Hancock 

“I would like to commend the staff and volunteers for all of their hard work and devotion on behalf of such an outstanding cause.” ~ U.S. Senator John McCain

“Five years ago, Jazz for Peace featuring Rick DellaRatta held their landmark concert at the United Nations which brought together Israeli, Palestinian and American Jazz musicians. Nearly 500 benefit concerts later, Jazz for Peace remains strong, supporting many worthy non-profit organizations…”

            ~ United States Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton                                                                                                                                          

“You are an excellent role model for us all, the kind of person to whom everyone can point with respect and admiration. thank you for all you do to make our world a better place. I’m very proud of you!


                                                      ~ Alcee L. Hastings – Member of Congress

“Your message of peace and unity serves as a welcome and timely reminder to the world that ultimately we are brothers and sisters and we all share a common destiny. I take this opportunity to commend your organization for your commitment to this noble cause. It is because of such selfless devolution to humanity by a few that the world today remains a safe home for many.”

      ~ Hon. Raila P. Odinga – Prime Minister – Republic of Kenya, Africa.

“Partnering with Jazz for Peace is…an opportunity for the community to experience world-class music, while raising much needed funds.”  ~ The American Red Cross

“We felt the need to invite DellaRatta and his group because their work in promoting peace through music, is well known in the world.”              ~ UNICEF

“The concert was attended by people of all backgrounds…. The ceremony uniting Rick with the Maasai people marked a new beginning, a new lease on the life of caring for wildlife in the area.”

          ~ Paul Kilelu, Empaash Oloorienito Conservancy – Kenya, Africa

“We are honored to be receiving this benefit concert grant from the foundation, and to be bringing such a highly praised, culturally acclaimed event to Sun Valley.”       ~ Special Olympics 

“The performance was amazing. We enjoyed it very much! Cerdan was so happy as he felt the support, felt someone listening to his thoughts…we thank you for making time to be involved and supporting our efforts.”       

                      ~ Phira – Concert to address bullying in schools                                                                                                                 

“AIDSfreeAFRICA cannot wait to have you come to Cameroon for a Jazz for Peace concert. Very excited to see your progress…..”                                             ~ AIDSfreeAFRICA

 “…what an extraordinary program you have….It is so impressive how you and your organization have committed yourselves to ensuring that some of the most at-risk, underprivileged children have access to such a vital growth tool, music….I truly believe this will significantly change my CASA Youth’s life in ways she never could have imagined just a few months ago. ”  ~ Gwendolyn Coleman – CASA of DC

“Rick DellaRatta is one of the people who is taking Jazz to the next level”   *Describing the music from Ricks Thought Provoking CD                                                                                     ~Dr. Billy Taylor

“This multi-talented pianist also has a wonderful voice! He composes with a monkish touch…also interesting is the good contrast in the soloing of the aggressive Leibman to the more laidback solos of DellaRatta with nice use of spaces.”                                                            ~Swing Journal – Japan

” DellaRatta brought new life to an old sweet song.”   ~ Boston Globe

“DellaRatta…..demonstrating a talent for composing, improvising and arranging….that recalled Thelonius Monk’s flair for refreshing familiar chord progressions with harmonic twists… imaginative reworking that moved from the sublime to swinging and back again.”  ~ Washington Post

“DellaRatta…well crafted with strong traces of influence from McCoy Tyner and Bill Evans.”  ~ LA Times         

“Jazz for Peace (featuring Rick DellaRatta) has earned its place as one of the most significant cultural events of our time!” The New Ghanaian (West Africa)                                                                   

“Sure it will be a good show.” ~ The New York Times Jazz Forum

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The dichotomy of music

Guest writer Mandy Edwards

With another reported suicide of a member of a high profile band, I can’t help but feel sad. Not only for the fans of Linkin Park and Soundgarden, but for the music industry as a whole. I massage backstage at high profile gigs and I am reminded of a gig I worked at a few years ago. One that left me feeling unclean, shocked and perturbed. It’s what started a hiatus from that world, because it was a stark lesson of how dark it could go.

They say never meet your idols. You soon realise the ones that ‘make it’ are still stumbling, confused incomplete humans like the rest of us. Trying to find a way to be whole or find some semblance of home or comfort. For many musicians, I think music can be therapy. A way to exorcise the demons, make sense of them, deconstruct them. But I find some musicians never find healing.

I recently had my first guitar lesson after being hypnotised watching Haim rock out on stage at Glastonbury. It made me feel I wanted to ‘be’ them. I can understand the tacit nature of music. How it can speak to you. How it can be addictive. How it can be a natural high. Maybe that’s why so many musicians turn to drugs. To recreate the high they have on stage. Even just watching the 3 guitarists that make up Haim made me feel like I was on some other planet. I can only imagine the magnitude they felt being up there and seeing adoring fans totally rocking out and vibing on their music. What a let down it must be to head onto a tour bus, or go for a Big Mac at Mcdonalds afterwards and thinking ‘people adored me 20mins ago!’ It’s one rocky bump back down to earth.

It’s taken a while for me to love music again, simply because I massaged at a gig of someone I was a fan of. Don’t get my wrong, they weren’t someone I had idolised as a teenager. It didn’t run that deep and thank god it didn’t. Before I even arrived I had pages and pages and pages of Do’s and Don’t’s –  I wasn’t allowed to talk to them even. Of course this musician will have to remain nameless, but all I can say is, they were one of the high contenders. You couldn’t get much bigger in stardom and fame at the time.

I was positioned in a dressing room opposite Costume. My backstage pass was only for that small stretch of corridor. I could hear whispers from one security guard to another. Serious conversations, stressful conversations and I could see the panic. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife. Everyone ran around covering cameras backstage, at the stars request.

All of a sudden someone from costume came in with a hanger in hand. She threw it across the room and shouted

‘what a bitch!’

This woman was almost in tears. Tears of anger and frustration. Clearly she was talking about ‘the boss’ and clearly you now know it’s a woman we are talking about.

Then, I bizarrely bumped into a local GP.  He had been given instructions to go to the Artists hotel room. The fact they were due on stage within the hour didn’t seem to matter. He had to examine the Artist whilst she was asleep, administer an injection, which, of course I had no business knowing exactly what kind of injection, due to confidential reasons. He too wasn’t allowed to talk to her. He seem white as a ghost, almost shell shocked. He said ‘I am never doing that again.’

I was a good girl and stayed in my little corridor, but when it was time for the Artist to go on stage I watched from my vantage point to see if I could see them walk onstage. I did see her. She was walking with her entourage of dancers. All I could hear was her telling her dancers the concoction of drugs she was on. She looked back at her dancers and told them clear as day. She didn’t even whisper. Then she looked me in the eye defiantly. It was almost a glare as if to say ‘how dare you look at me! Did you not get the brief? – it was weird to say the least.

Nothing about that night was joyful, creative, inspiring. It felt dark to a point I had to jump in the shower as I got home and I shuddered. It felt like I was witnessing another Amy Winehouse. It felt tragic and it shattered the illusion.

I think that’s what musicians are. An illusion. To create an illusion. To elevate you. To inspire you. Sometimes they may give so much, they are left empty themselves. Each gig chipping away at them, their soul, their identity. A human shaped outline on the stage, like that of a crime scene. It could easily lead to existential crisis. Who am I really? I can imagine feeling like you are in some sort of warped reality. Living up to what people ‘think’ you are, to the point you lose who you really are.

Maybe they felt empty to start with and the adulation was a way to fill them up. To make them whole. Maybe drugs are a way to get up in front of thousands of people and be unwaveringly brave. Maybe performing day in day out and living up to expectations is too hard to bear. Maybe it’s true that all artists are a little tortured. The scared and vulnerable child inside wanting be liked. Hell, even my guitar teacher told me within 30mins he was taken in by a paedophile ring at aged 6 and music saved him. Interestingly enough he played with Amy Winehouse and mirroringly he called her a bitch too. Full of ego. Maybe when you have talent, you can get to the position where ego just runs away with itself. Where you turn into a monster. You are the spiritual saviour for many, whilst you destroy yourself.

I don’t know the story of Chester Bennington or Chris Cornell’s suicide. I didn’t know them personally. I don’t know why they wanted to escape, but all I know is, I want to find the light in the darkness. I want to create. But I don’t want it to be what makes me whole. I don’t want to get sucked into this tantalising power. I want to be grounded and not driven by ego. Is that what gets us all in the end? Ego. This illusion that we are better, special whilst everyone is down ‘there’. I don’t want to look down, but elevate myself to a higher consciousness, whilst also elevating others. Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe the answer is different for everyone. Maybe we just need to realise the interconnected nature of it all. That we aren’t alone. Demons and all. Isn’t that what music is about after all. To connect us. Maybe we just need to reach out more.

Mandy is a writer, traveller and massage therapist for the music and film industry. Visit Mandy’s regular blog here.

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The Proms 2017 season is here!

What’s On

Ariana Grande’s Emotional ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ in Manchester

Benefit concert raises over $10 million for victims of terror attack

Ariana Grande closed out her One Love Manchester benefit concert with an emotional rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Ariana Grande closed out her One Love Manchester benefit concert with an emotional rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” a tribute to the 22 people killed in the terror attack in the British city less than two weeks ago.

Near the end of the song, Grande became overcome with emotion and had to stop the performance before the cheers of the crowd powered her toward the finale of The Wizard of Oz classic.

Grande was a fixture throughout the three-hour concert, performing alongside Cyrus, Coldplay, Black Eyed Peas, Mac Miller, Victoria Monet in addition to playing her own hits.

According to the Red Cross U.K., the benefit concert raised over $9 million. “Well, the fantastic news is we’ve already raised around 7 million pounds [$9 million],” chief executive Mike Adamson told the Associated Press. “And we expect to raise another one and half million pounds from ticket sales tonight and then further funding from the TV rights and merchandising. So, we’re really looking to appeal that’s going to move towards 10 million pounds.”

The all-star One Love Manchester concert’s second-to-last song featured many of the artists involved – Ariana Grande, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell Williams and more – joining Grande onstage for “One Last Time,” with the artists clapping and cheering along to the My Everything song:

Music to Move the Masses: How Leaders Use Music

Politicians, motivational speakers and sports coaches all use music to energize, motivate and inspire their audiences. The Sync Project takes a look at some of the best examples of our time.

In the wake of the unprecedented events of the recent US election, it’s worth listening to the music that each of the two candidates used to inspire their audiences. Hillary Clinton’s team even released the Official Hillary 2016 Playlist, packed with millennial-appeal tracks like Demi Lovato and Jason Derulo’s Together to back up the “Stronger Together” message of her campaign. Contrast this with the music played by president-elect Trump at “Make America Great Again” rallies, with tracks like John Mellencamp’s R.O.C.K in the USA and Born on the Bayou by Creedence Clearwater Revival.


Politicians are not alone in this use of music to inspire and carry a message. Another great example of someone who uses this technique is American motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Before and during his live events — which consistently sell out to massive crowds — Robbins uses music to build energy, unleash emotion and draw the crowd together. Music is so much a part of Robbins’s shows that his website even has a list of tracks commonly used at his events. It features familiar songs like American Pie by Don Maclean (universally appreciated and likely used to bring the crowd together as one); Jump Around by House of Pain (perfect for when energy levels start to drop and you want everyone to, well, jump around); and Clocks by Coldplay (for those moments of euphoric epiphany that are the reason people go to see Robbins the first place.)

Robbins is in fact not the only one to have used Coldplay for motivational effect. During the European professional soccer season of 2008–2009, coach Pep Guardiola chose Coldplay’s track Viva La Vida to inspire the FC Barcelona team before games. With its upbeat pace and feeling of gathering momentum, the track appears to have been a smart choice as that season Barcelona won all six competitions they could possibly have played in — a feat that no team had ever pulled off before.

music therapy


It must have been a tricky gamble for Guardiola, because we all know that feeling of “oh no not again” when a song is overplayed. As Psychology Today points out in an article from 2012: “Predictability… can make songs you love seem mundane by reducing anticipation and creating a rut. Randomness in music has been linked to increases in dopamine.”

Guardiola thought was using the track as part of a self-reinforcing virtuous circle: the team listened to it, got psyched up, and went out and won the game — week after week after week. Rather than getting tired of the track, the players presumably came to associate it with winning, and with a pre-game feeling of “we can do this, we’ve done it before, now let’s go and do it again.”

Fortunately, there’s a bit of research to backup the intuitions shared by sport pros about the power of music. Studies have examined the support of music during sports and athletic training, all the way from warm-up, exercise and recovery, and shown it has real physiological benefit.

Scientists have studied runners and cyclists during their exercise routines and shown that movement to so-called “motivational” music helped runners have lower lactate levels. Cyclists completing high-intensity interval training showed felt less tired after giving it their all when music was used during the exercise. Sync Project launched it’s first study last year with Hintsa Performance to evaluate the effects of personalized music on high-intensity interval cycling.

Music therapy

The benefits also extend to warm-up routines where music raised heart rate and increased peak anaerobic power during their workout. It turns out music can even make you like exercise: a recent study showed when people listened to music or watched music videos when exercising with considerable effort they reported more enjoyment than without it. Research has also shown that music can help with recovery after strenuous exercise, by motivating listeners to move after their workout and reduce lactic acid buildup.

Some tracks seem to become forever associated with sporting prowess and success, such as the title tune from the 1981 historical drama “Chariots of Fire.” The film is about two British athletes competing in the 1924 Olympic Games — one of whom is running against all odds — but it’s the theme by Greek composer Vangelis for which the film became iconic. Vangelis in fact won an academy award for the film’s musical score, the title track of which has been associated with the glory of sporting achievements ever since. It was even used during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, having seemingly made a leap into popular culture forever.

Written by Marko Ahtisaari, CEO and Co-founder Sync Project

Originally published at on November 23, 2016.

Sync With Others to Feel Closer

Music automatically moves us. Even if you are sitting absolutely still, your motor cortex is still active when you listen to music.

This special link between movement and sound is thought to have been around since music began. It has been proposed that through its capacity to synchronize movements of individuals, music made it possible for us to cooperate more efficiently and thereby survive as a species. Music can therefore be thought of as an inherently social phenomenon, and as something that exists to move us in synchrony, in order to help us bond.

This aspect of music perhaps explains why one of the most common ways of enjoying music is at a concert setting, or at a dance party where we are also able to move together. But what actually happens when we move together to music? Is the thought of bonding through dance just a theory or is there evidence to support that dancing truly makes us closer to one another?

A recently published study¹ revealed the surprising effects of merely moving together in synchrony.

In the study, 94 participants first learned four basic dance moves. Then, they were asked to dance together with three unfamiliar individuals. Each participant had their own headphones through which they heard music, as well as short instructions on which pre-learned dance moves they should execute. This use of individual headphones made it possible to look at the effects of synchronized movement independent of the effect of study participants all being exposed to the same sound stimuli. (As a side note, having people listen to music from headphones but still dance in the same space is called “silent disco”. And it seems to be getting quite popular at the moment!)

Study shows dancing in synchrony increased pain threshold ratings

Image Credit

The silent disco created in this study had three different conditions for dancing together: in the synchrony condition, all participants executed the same dance moves to the same music. With the partial synchrony condition, the participants danced the same movements to the same music, but at different times, meaning that no two individuals were doing the exact same move at any point. In the asynchronous condition, the participants danced completely different moves, meaning that each individual’s dance had a completely unique set of moves. In addition, in the asynchrony condition, the music pieces were not played at the same time for any participant.

Before and after the dancing session, the participants were asked to rate the amount of social closeness they felt towards the other participants they had danced with. In addition, as a more objective measure of bonding, the pain thresholds of the participants were measured before and after the silent disco.

Why did the scientists measure pain thresholds? Interestingly, elevation of the pain threshold may be used as an indicator of social bonding. According to the article, previous research has shown that synchronous activity with others like group exercise or synchronous rowing elevates pain thresholds; implying the group activities actually made it easier to deal with pain. It has been suggested that this happens because such activities activate the endogenous opioid system — triggering release of our body’s own painkillers. The release of these endogenous opioids has in turn been associated with feelings of closeness towards others.

Image Credit

According to the results of the study, dancing in synchrony with others increased pain thresholds, and also resulted in significantly higher ratings of closeness, than dancing in partial synchrony or asynchrony. In other words, moving together to the same music in synchrony made the participants feel closer to each other and also increased their tolerance for pain, possibly signaling an increased release of the body’s painkillers in the synchrony condition.

In summary, moving together with others to music can act as a quick icebreaker — making you feel closer to previously unknown people. As an added bonus, as well as a potential mechanism for increasing closeness, synchronous movement may also increase your pain threshold. This finding is an important addition to the body of literature showing that music listening can be used for pain management. Perhaps including a social aspect to enjoying music could increase its analgesic effects?



  1. Tarr, B., Launay, J., & Dunbar, R. I. (2016). Silent disco: dancing in synchrony leads to elevated pain thresholds and social closeness. Evolution and Human Behavior. DOI:/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2016.02.004

Originally published at

Introducing Sync Music Bot for Slack — Better Work Every Day with Music

At Slush 2016 in Helsinki we  announced Sync Music Bot for Slack. This first of a kind chatbot delivers daily sets of music to help you work, relax and exercise. You can install it at

The daily music sets are personalised to you and are based on a combination of millions of crowd-sourced health playlists and acoustic analysis. Over time, as more data becomes available from wearable sensors, the bot will learn from your physiology.

Over 100 slack teams globally have been testing the chatbot over the last month and we’re grateful for all of the feedback and suggestions we’ve received. As a result, the bot includes a lot of delightful details, like social features baked right into Slack, for easy sharing and reactions to music. Read more about the design of Sync Music Bot here.

We all know the feeling when a day starts well, when we are proactive and productive. Music plays an important role in motivation and focus. Today, we want to share Sync Music Bot with Slack teams all around the world who love music. This is the next step on our quest to unlock the personalized health effects of music.

PS: We love Slack!