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Members of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra working with pupils at St Richards.

Members of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra working with pupils at St Richards.

National Youth Jazz Orchestra links up with piano festival

As its inaugural season approaches, Hastings International Piano Festival has gone into partnership with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) to provide a platform for the orchestra’s ambitious 2020 educational offer. Nick Terdre reports.

In the lead up to the 2020 Hastings International Piano Festival, which begins in late February, the organisation will host a series of inspirational workshops with National Youth Jazz Orchestra associates in three local secondary schools: Hastings Academy, Ark Alexandra and St Richards. Funding for this initiative has come from the Isabel Blackman Foundation.

Each school will receive three visits from a group of NYJO players who will work with children of varied musical ability, developing young musicians’ skills and confidence, HIPF says. At the end of the project the children from all three schools will join together for a mass rehearsal ahead of a concert/sharing session for other  students.

Members of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Members of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

These workshops will address the fundamentals of jazz performance practise including feel, ensemble skills and improvisation. All young musicians will learn melodies by ear, explore harmonic possibilities and gain confidence improvising. The first visits have already taken place.

Founded in 1965 as a single jazz orchestra of young professional musicians, NYJO has grown into a multidimensional organisation, working in jazz education at all levels all around the country, and offering alternative routes to young musicians who want to play jazz.

Launching careers

“Our Jazz Orchestra has helped launch the careers of many of the UK’s most-admired jazz singers and instrumentalists: Amy Winehouse, Guy Barker, Laura Jurd, Yazz Ahmed, Kwabs, Stan Sulzmann and Gwilym Simcock, and remains the gateway to the profession for many stars of the UK jazz scene and countless musical theatre and session musicians,” it says.

“But the 24-piece flagship orchestra is just part of NYJO’s offering. Our Learning & Participation programme continues to grow, taking jazz to places where it is often overlooked and inspiring young aspiring musicians through concerts and bespoke workshops that fit the area and its needs. In 2019, NYJO engaged over 7,500 children and young people, through over 500 workshops, continuing our work to Level the Playing Field in Jazz Education.”

For HIPF this partnership marks the launch of an extensive range of ‘Youth Engagement Opportunities’ that it is offering alongside the inaugural piano festival, including free tickets to many of the festival concerts and a wide range of workshops, school visits and inspirational talks from the international artists.

Line-up of celebrated artists

The 2020 Hastings International Piano Festival will take place from 26 February to 8 March at the White Rock Theatre and St Mary in the Castle, featuring celebrated artists including headliner Rufus Wainwright with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, jazz queen Claire Martin with guest artist Liane Carroll, Oscar-winning film composer Rachel Porter, Sam Smith’s song-writer and collaborator Reuben James with his 10-piece band, songwriter Guy Chambers, The Puppini Sisters with The Pasadena Roof Orchestra, actors Patricia Hodge and Alex Jennings with pianist Lucy Parham, BBC Young Musician of The Year Martin James Bartlett and film critic Mark Kermode and his band The Dodge Brothers.

And of course the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition returns in 2021.

For more details of the HIPF and how to buy tickets, see Hastings International Piano Festival to open next year.

Posted 18:34 Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 In: Music & Sound

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