Autumn 2019 began with a visit from the Moriarty Winds, an excellent wind quintet, as professional in their approach to preparing workshops for younger children as they are in playing high-quality concerts. In visits to Avenue Junior School and St Francis of Assisi Primary School in Norwich and St Augustine’s Primary School, Costessey, 300 children took part in an introduction to the flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and French horn.
For older talented students, we granted four bursaries for ensemble playing for pupils attending the Norfolk Centre for Young Musicians and a significant contribution to bursaries to the Norfolk County Youth Orchestra, to support students in their tuition and twice-yearly residential courses. These organisations seek to ensure that no talented pupil should be excluded for lack of funding.
In January 2020, we sponsored the prize for the most promising wind player at the Norfolk Young Musician of the Year competition, promoted by the Michael Badminton Young Musicians Trust. The adjudicator, clarinettist Michael Collins gave positive, helpful comments to all entrants. Bassoonist Joanne Asher was named most promising wind player.
Nicholas Daniel, acclaimed oboist and member of Britten Sinfonia, delighted Norfolk oboe students, their music teachers and an audience of members, when he staged a masterclass in January as part of our concert weekend. Each student received great encouragement and individual constructive comments to help with further progress.
NCM directly organised and funded the Schools’ Music Project for Primary Schools in March. Performers from the professional ensemble group ‘Chroma’ had rehearsed a fascinating programme of music found along the ancient Silk Road route. Then the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading. After checks with all participants, we went ahead as planned on the 10th, 11th and 12th March – sadly, the last time the musicians had work for a long time.
Members of the ensemble made their tour of our own ‘Silk Music Route’ to Eaton Primary, Cringleford Primary, Yaxham Primary, Costessey Primary and Bignold Primary Schools where they were much appreciated by approximately 1,140 pupils and staff in total. In each they gave a workshop presentation of their instruments: violin and viola (Chihiro Ono); cello (Zoe Martlew, group leader); piccolo, flute and alto flute (Julian Sperry); and oboe and cor anglais (Lydia Griffiths). They introduced the theme ‘Sounds of the Silk Road’, including musical extracts from China, India, Persia, East Africa and Turkey, in a highly engaging and dynamic way, interwoven with stories and information. The musical content had been specially adapted for us by Chroma Musical Director Stuart King.
Some 300 of the children had a second opportunity to listen to the group, with the addition of a lively and very well-received percussionist, at a concert at the JIC Conference Centre auditorium. The final applause was deafening.