Tones in Homes (2010-2011)
The Festival also worked to benefit disadvantaged members of the Community through the 'Tones-in-Homes' project. As part of our commitment to making music accessible to those who are housebound and infirm, some of our performers visited residential homes and care centres including the local Hospice. Allied to this was a sing-along project for care home residents promulgating the notion that being actively involved in music makes you feel better and is good for your health.
Batonality Project (2012)
Schools' composition and performance workshops
A special commission for schools in South Lakeland to write a new piece in celebration of the London Olympics. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for children in South Lakeland to be involved in creating a unique work inspired by the Olympic idea.
To celebrate London 2012, our Artistic Director Anthony Hewitt cycled the length and breadth of Britain, from Land's End to John O'Groats. A concert grand piano accompanid him in his 'BeethoVan' which was used as a makeshift stage. At the end of each leg of his journey he gave a recital either on the BeethoVan outdoors in unique locations and for isolated rural communities, or in a venue where he was invited to perform as part of a festival or music club.
Ulverston International Music Festival co-commissioned renowned composer Stephen Goss to write a new work for Anthony to perform on the tour including in Windermere on Sunday 20th May 2012 which marked the half-way point of Anthony's journey (the work was premiered at the Swaledale Festival the day before). The work - entitled 'Piano Cycle' - is a Suite for solo piano based on themes or rhythms from the five continents in the Olympic logo and incorporating sounds and features of bicycles.
The Batonality concept
Under the guidance of composer Duncan Chapman, five schools from South Lakeland each wrote a variation on themes in 'Piano Cycle'. The resulting five 'Batonality Variations' were performed during the opening concert of the Ulverston International Music Festival's complete Beethoven Sonata cycle on October 19th 2012.
The 'Batonality' project was a symbolic musical relay. The 'baton' was the manuscript scroll handed from school to school much like the Olympic torch, and resulted at the end of its journey in the complete manuscript of a set of five 'Batonality Variations' on a theme from 'Piano Cycle'. The word Batonality is a word play on baton and tonality, a musical term referring to traditional harmony.
Primrose Plus (2014)
This was a unique opportunity for amateur musicians to sit-in with a professional Piano Quartet, and to play a movement of Schumann's Piano Quintet in a performance at the Coronation Hall.
Guitar Masterclass with Fabio Zanon (2014)
Local classical guitarists enjoyed a masterclass with Fabio Zanon, visiting professor of guitar at the Royal Academy of Music, and one of the pre-eminent guitarists of today.
‘String Together’ – String Workshop (2014)
The Festival was delighted to welcome world renowned violinist, teacher, chamber musician, orchestral leader and ESTA president David Le Page, to lead two orchestral sessions for amateur players of all ages with Holst’s ‘St. Paul’s Suite’ and David Le Page’s own composition for strings and soloist.
The workshop included a session on string techniques and improvisation, and a final performance at the end of the day. This was a fantastic opportunity for young musicians to be taught by the ‘best’, playing and learning alongside other musicians of a similar standard, and of course, to hear David play!
Piano Masterclasses at Eccles Riggs (May - November 2014)
As an important part of our 2014 Festival activities, we held three weekends of master classes for students and amateur pianists under the expert tutelage of Anthony Hewitt and guest pianist, Douglas Finch.
The masterclasses gave students and amateur pianists the chance to develop their technical skills, knowledge and confidence through working with professional pianists, as well as developing a greater understanding of music. Each pianist was given the opportunity to take one-hour lessons with our leading international pianists. Participants were given the opportunity to learn and perform new repertoire in front of a small, appreciative audience, and also to learn from other pianists’ lessons.
Eccle Riggs provided a very special venue for our masterclasses, set under the shadows of Coniston Old Man in its own beautiful gardens complete with exotic birds. All participants were supplied with tea, coffee and scrumptious cakes throughout the day, although perhaps more importantly, we had the use of two lovely pianos, a Steinway grand and a Kawai grand.
Composers’ Competition: Write a Variation on Burns Air 159 (2014)
Burns Air 159, 'By yon castle wa' at the close of the day', is a haunting text and tune by Robert Burns. In 2009, for the 250th anniversary of the birth of the legendary Scottish poet, the esteemed Primrose Piano Quartet asked a host of well-known composers to contribute a variation to the Air.
For the 2014 Ulverston International Music Festival, we asked three South Lakes’ schools to contribute their own variation, to be performed by the Primrose Piano Quartet alongside the above-mentioned composers’ variations at the Coronation Hall.
Invitations were also extended to all local composers wishing to write a variation for any combination of piano, violin, viola and cello – the winning entry of which was performed by the Primrose Piano Quartet during their concert at the 2014 Festival.
Children’s Participation in the Festival
Our 2014 Family Concert saw the return of the ever popular 'Travelling by Tuba', giving primary school children the chance to spend a fun afternoon singing and making music on stage.
Having made their first appearance at the 2013 Festival, Travelling by Tuba ‘blew us away’ with their musical jokes and informative style proving a winner with over one hundred primary school children.The duo returned in 2014 with a World Cup themed programme, incorporating instruments from all five participating continents, a Brazilian Samba beat, as well as football themes and anthems.
“Thank you for organising such a wonderful event. It’s one that the children will hold fond memories of for years to come”. Head Teacher (2013)
Through our Family Concert, the Festival's profile has increased amongst young people, families and schools, and has given us a firm foundation from which to build our education work in the future.