Mak­ing mu­si­cians

Aldeburgh Young Mu­si­cians is 10 years old, which calls for a cel­e­bra­tion...

EADT Suffolk - - INSIDE - WORDS: Jayne Lindill PHOTOS: Matt Wigley

Aldeburgh Young Mu­si­cians turns 10

Colin Virr brims with the pride and the pas­sion of a par­ent re­call­ing the ac­com­plish­ments of a favourite child. And well he might. His ‘baby’, Aldeburgh Young Mu­si­cians, is a high achiever by any stan­dards. Over the past decade the de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme for ad­vanced young mu­si­cians and com­posers at Snape Malt­ings has turned out some ex­cit­ing, cre­ative young peo­ple, some of whom are now tak­ing their place on the na­tional stage. Hav­ing helped to con­ceive AYM, and nur­tured it through its for­ma­tive years, Colin is now plan­ning a party to cel­e­brate its 10th birth­day.

“I’m hop­ing we can cre­ate a fes­ti­val at­mos­phere,” he says, “a cel­e­bra­tion that shows what AYM does best.” There seems lit­tle doubt about that. Colin’s been in touch with all the AYM alumni of the past decade and tasked them with cre­at­ing the con­tent for two ex­cit­ing evenings on Fri­day and Satur­day July 27 and 28. While he’s not ex­actly sure what they’ll come up with – it rather de­pends on which com­posers, mu­si­cians and their in­stru­ments get in­volved – au­di­ences can ex­pect a vi­brant, orig­i­nal blend of jazz, folk, cham­ber and or­ches­tral mu­sic, all in the fab­u­lous out­door set­ting of the Dove­cote (Fri­day) and the world fa­mous Snape Malt­ings Con­cert Hall (Satur­day). It prom­ises to be quite an oc­ca­sion, and for Colin an espe­cially poignant one. Af­ter 10 years of run­ning AYM, he feels the mo­ment’s right to move on, and this will be his swan song.

The evening will also in­clude a fiveminute film fea­tur­ing AYM alumni now work­ing pro­fes­sion­ally, re­flect­ing on their suc­cess to date and look­ing at what’s to come for those hop­ing to find their place in the world of mu­sic. AYM is a Cen­tre for Ad­vanced Train­ing, one of a net­work set up around the coun­try by the Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion un­der its mu­sic and dance scheme, with the aim of help­ing young peo­ple to de­velop their tal­ent prac­ti­cally on their doorstep. Be­fore AYM, and other CATs, the op­tions avail­able to a young per­son who wanted to pur­sue his or her mu­si­cal ed­u­ca­tion at an ad­vanced level were lim­ited to en­rolling at a spe­cial­ist board­ing school, or at­tend­ing the ju­nior depart­ment of a tra­di­tional con­ser­va­toire, usu­ally in Lon­don, trav­el­ling up ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing for a long day of tu­ition and work­shops. As the par­ent of a mu­si­cally able child, Colin knows only too well just how costly and ex­haust­ing this can be. Cer­tainly, it is be­yond the reach of many fam­i­lies.

“We were ap­proached to see if there was an al­ter­na­tive, so we met with young

peo­ple across the eastern re­gion and tried to work out a model that would suit their needs,” says Colin. “It had to be a ro­bust al­ter­na­tive, a way for them to get spe­cial­ist pro­vi­sion – ac­cess to ex­cel­lence for young peo­ple who have po­ten­tial to study for de­grees and have a ca­reer in mu­sic, if that’s what they want.” Three years in the mak­ing, AYM ac­cepted its first co­hort of young mu­si­cians in 2008 with just a hand­ful of cour­ses. Since that time, through a year-round pro­gramme of in­ten­sive week-long res­i­den­cies and week­ends, in­di­vid­ual les­sons, pro­fes­sional ad­vice, men­tor­ing and per­for­mances, AYM has nur­tured the cre­ativ­ity of scores of young mu­si­cians – mostly from East Anglia – teas­ing out their tal­ent and help­ing them re­alise their po­ten­tial. It now runs more than 60 cour­ses, and gives young peo­ple ac­cess to the best mu­si­cal train­ing on of­fer, as they work along­side pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians as equals, and cre­ate, re­hearse, per­form, com­pose, work­shop, im­pro­vise and col­lab­o­rate with other like-minded young mu­si­cians.

In typ­i­cal Suf­folk style, AYM has de­vel­oped less con­ven­tion­ally than some of its coun­ter­parts around the coun­try, and cer­tainly takes a less for­mal ap­proach than the tra­di­tional con­ser­va­toires – a bit more ex­per­i­men­tal with­out be­ing quirky, as Colin puts it. The em­pha­sis is on col­lab­o­ra­tion and cre­ative think­ing. Mu­si­cians are not grouped ac­cord­ing to age or the in­stru­ment they play, but are treated as in­di­vid­ual artists in their own right. Stu­dents as young as eight work with older mu­si­cians up to 18 years old, across all dis­ci­plines – singer sing writ­ers, rock gui­tarists, clas­si­cal in­stru­men­tal­ists and per­cus­sion­ists – ex­plor­ing all gen­res from or­ches­tral, cham­ber and vo­cal, to jazz and folk.

“It’s a very cre­ative ap­proach, which de­vel­ops their strengths and helps to make them ver­sa­tile and the best they can pos­si­bly be,” says Colin. “It seems to work. The pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians who work with them say they learn as much from AYM as the young mu­si­cians do from them.”

The num­bers of AYM mem­bers are kept de­lib­er­ately low, not out of elitism or ex­clu­siv­ity, but to en­sure that ev­ery­one gets the at­ten­tion they need. Each has an in­di­vid­u­ally tai­lored pro­gramme, and Colin has tapped into the pass­ing pa­rade of mu­si­cians of na­tional and in­ter­na­tional stand­ing who come to Snape, to find the most ap­pro­pri­ate men­tors and tu­tors.

AYM is cer­tainly bear­ing fruit. While Colin says even­tual em­ploy­ment is not the prin­ci­pal aim, and not all young peo­ple will want to use their tal­ent in that way, many have gone on to study at the high­est level and are now work­ing pro­fes­sion­ally as mu­si­cians.

“We’ve pro­duced some amaz­ing young peo­ple over the years who are now start­ing to stand out,” he says. And AYM has es­tab­lished some­thing of a rep­u­ta­tion, it seems. “Some­thing hap­pens to our young peo­ple, they grow when they’re with us. There’s a poise and con­fi­dence, but not an ar­ro­gance. Peo­ple tell us they can spot an Aldeburgh mu­si­cian.” Ben­jamin Brit­ten would have ap­proved.

LEFT AND RIGHT: AYMs ben­e­fit from res­i­den­cies spent work­ing to­gether

BE­LOW: Cameron Scott, AYM

ABOVE: AYM gives mu­si­cians ac­cess to the best tu­ition avail­able

The AYM pro­gramme cov­ers all mu­sic dis­ci­plines and gen­res

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.