The Dionysus Ensemble in the Solomon Islands

The Dionysus Ensemble in the Solomon Islands

The Dionysus Ensemble in the Solomon Islands

The Commonwealth Resounds Ensemble-in-Residence, the Dionysus Ensemble recently travelled to the Solomon Islands to lead a musical project for young people. Here is a report of the project, written by Ensemble Leader Leonie Adams.

Project Outline: 

The Piano Association of Solomon Islands (PASI), the music training organisation on The Solomon Islands, enables children to learn various instruments, not simply the piano. These children receive tuition only once or twice a year and must manage alone apart from that, with help only from untrained volunteers.

This project provided expert instrumental teaching for existing students in piano and violin as well as giving some children their first ever instrumental lessons, including the first ever cello lesson on the Islands!

Go Compose! 

The Dionysus Ensemble ran a “Go Compose Solomon Islands” day, which for the first time, introduced composition and trained the students not only how to create their own music, but to write it down. The day was focussed on music theory and notation practices as well as the importance of music being documented for posterity so that their music can be shared, performed by others and last into the future. Our students returned over the following few days with pages of newly created music, which they’d worked on at home after class, to ask advice, seek out new ideas and direction and to check their work with us. We performed and recorded all of their pieces for them so that each student now has a professionally performed record of their first piece.

Performance and Presenting Skills 

We held a performance and stage craft class working on presenting well to an audience, which is a highly valuable transferrable skill for job interviews. Solomon Islands has a very high rate of youth unemployment so this skill will put these students at an advantage in an incredibly competitive job market.

The idea of walking on to a stage with good posture, bowing and timing your performance were unfamiliar to these students, and the change by the end of this class was monumental.

Introducing the piece of music that they were about to perform was also a new challenge, and we discussed voice projection, clarity of speech and diction, as well as stage fright, nerves, courage and presenting a confident attitude to the audience.

We, in conjunction with the British High Commissioner, provided a high profile recital opportunity for three students at different levels from beginner to grade 8 at the British High Commission drinks reception for the Diplomatic Community, and about half of our students performed in their first ever public concert held at St Barnabas Cathedral in Honiara. Some of our students not only performed their prepared music but also their own compositions, giving a world premiere of their works and a public outing of something created and performed entirely by them.

Every single student performed in a more informal concert on our final day at the Maranatha Hall. This gave everyone a chance to show their progress and development in a friendly and relaxed environment in front of family and friends.

Dionysus Ensemble Performances 

As a chamber ensemble, the Dionysus Ensemble performed at various diplomatic events for the British High Commission & the American Consul and also for Rotary Honiara, as well as at the Heritage Park Hotel, in the children’s ward of the Hospital and live on the radio for SIBC – Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

Essential Skills for Life 

Music gives the children transferable skills such as teamwork, perseverance, working hard bringing results, maths & counting, listening, dedication, responding to others, physical & motor control & dexterity and social interactive skills. Participating in an ensemble enhances feelings of self-achievement, encourages people to overcome challenges, builds self-confidence, and raises determination to make more effort to meet group expectations regarding standards of playing. Music is giving these children a purpose, and a skill set which will help them to access further education, learning, jobs and to be able to deal well with social situations.

We have discovered innate and natural musical talent in these students, an enormous desire to learn, improve and develop and a commitment to their studies which is truly admirable. The children involved in this inaugural project came when they weren’t scheduled for a lesson just in case someone was late and they could have extra time, with a list of questions every day and with renewed vigour and interest as the project went on.

These children committed to this project with an intensity seldom seen by our team and were soaking up every scrap of knowledge that we could give them.

Impact and Sustainability 

“I couldn’t sleep last night because I wanted to practise!” – Reynard 15

“You taught me to be brave and to play the piano” – Juanita 8

“Great teachers and musicians. Loved learning from them and listening to them playing their instruments. Such great inspirations.” Ian 18

This project brought an exciting and invaluable range of experiences and opportunities to all involved in PASI which really spurred them on.

As well as working with the children, the Ensemble worked with local teachers and parents to share our teaching expertise & practice tips so that they will have a wider range of techniques and resources available to encourage and enthuse the children going forward.

The British High Commissioner, HE Brian Jones and Dionysus Ensemble Founder and Cellist, Leonie Adams, founded & opened a Commonwealth Music Library within Honiara public library so that donated sheet music and CDs are now freely available to anyone in the Solomon Islands to borrow. This invaluable resource was made possible by the incredibly generous donation of new books by Universal Editions London and will allow our students and anyone who is interested to discover new music to listen to and to read & learn.

Beyond this Project 

We would love to be able to continue the work that we started – to put in place regular teaching, a regular concert itinerary in which they could perform, to develop their composition skills, to increase the number of students able to have access to PASI and to take desperately needed resources such as instruments, spare strings, manuscript paper and music stands over for them.

We also want to develop their connections with local businesses to generate background music performance opportunities for the students, to widen the range of instruments taught and to link up PASI with the Police Band to put on a joint concert. This is just the beginning of structured music leaning and making in the Solomon Islands and the possibilities are enormous. With continued support and guidance, they want to set up a music hub where all musicians can come together to support each other, learn and develop as well as putting on performances, sharing resources and ideas. The students are willing, enthusiastic and a joy to teach, they expressed their gratitude so clearly in their attitude and progress over our project.

Sponsors 

This project would not have been possible without the kind and generous support of our sponsors and supporters.

The British High Commission, Honiara

Solomon Airlines

Universal Edition

The Mercers’ Company

The Royal Society of St George

Imperial Travel, Solomon Islands

The Commonwealth@70 Resounds in Antigua and Barbuda

The Commonwealth@70 Resounds in Antigua and Barbuda

June 6th -16th 2019 – As part of the Commonwealth’s 70th Anniversary celebrations, an exciting new training/skill-sharing programme for young musicians was created by the High Commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda, The Commonwealth Resounds, the Royal Over-Seas League and the Purcell School for Young Musicians.

Read the full report here

Creativity in the Commonwealth!

Creativity in the Commonwealth!

On Tuesday May 14th, Alison Cox OBE, TCR’s Founder and Chair of Trustees was invited to the Houses of Parliament by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, UK  to speak about Creativity in the Commonwealth, along with Mr Gee the Poet and Daniel Hatton from the Commonwealth Fashion Council.

Alison spoke about the importance of musical creativity, and the impact this can have upon musicians and their livelihoods. She mentioned the Commonwealth International Composition Award (TCR’s latest, high-profile project) and also some of the other projects we have run for CHOGM in previous years; for example, the Commonwealth Pianorama (53 short piano pieces from all over the Commonwealth,  performed in Trinidad, London and Edinburgh in 2009/10) and Panorpheus (53 flute-harp pieces created for CHOGM 2015 in Malta).

The Commonwealth Resounds also organised some imaginative cultural entertainment for the Parliamentary Association . A spectacular Commonwealth juggler, Emmanuael the Magnificent, juggled with bowls, spinning plates, skittles and even with Parliamentary chairs! Emmanuel’s performance was enhanced by young jazz musicians from The Purcell School who created improvisations to accompany the performance.

Training young musicians and composers in Antigua and Barbuda

Training young musicians and composers in Antigua and Barbuda

From July 6th-16th, a group of talented young musicians and staff from The Purcell School and Wells Cathedral School will be travelling to Antigua and Barbuda with award-winning musicians from the Royal Over-Seas League to run training programmes with the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra.

All the young musicians involved in this programme have outreach leadership experience. Several of them are also members of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

They will also be running a special programme called ‘Go Compose, Antigua’ for school-aged composers involved in the new pilot training programme for the Commonwealth International Composition Award.

Her Excellency, Karen-Mae Hill, the High Commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda has organised an exciting programme of masterclasses, rehearsals and performances for the visiting musicians.

In January 2019, Alison Cox visited Antigua and Barbuda to promote the new Commonwealth International Composition Award. The High Commissioner worked very hard to ensure that Alison was able to meet and speak to as many key partners in Antigua as possible. She was invited to speak the national radio and TV, including  ‘Antigua and Barbuda Today’ with Patrice Martin and Khan Cordice. Also, Alison met His Excellency The Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Rodney Williams and his wife, Lady Williams.

Watch this space for further information about this groundbreaking project.

The Commonwealth International Composition Award

The Commonwealth International Composition Award

Commonwealth International Composition Award

In association with the ABRSM

In association with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) and the Purcell School for Young Musicians

Do you want to learn how to compose music?

The Official Launch of the Commonwealth International Composition Award was held at Marlborough House on Tuesday 30th April. It was attended by many distinguished guests from the music profession and the Commonwealth and hosted by Zeb Soanes, BBC Presenter and Author.

Speakers included Her Excellency The Secreatry_General of the Commonwealth, Her Excellency the High Commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda, Geoff Parkin, Artistic Director, Royal Over-Seas League, Michael Elliot, Chief Executive, ABRSM, Paul Bambrough, Principal, The Purcell School for Young Musicians, Daniel Spreadbury, Marketing Manager, Dorico, Kuljit Bhamra, Composer, Tabla Explorer and De-mystifier of Indian Music and Alison Cos OBE, Founder and chair of Trustees, The Commonwealth Resounds.

Two exciting new pieces by young composers were presented. ‘Tiger Teeth’ by Sasha Scott aged 17 (cultural background from Barbados, Jamaica and the UK) performed by a school-age string quartet from the Purcell School for Young Musicians and ‘Adam’s Peak’ by Vionthya Perinpanathan (cultural background from Sri Lanka) performed by Kuljit Bhamra – tabla and Leonie Adams. – cello. Leonie is the Musical Director of Dionysus, Ensemble-in Residence for the Commonwealth Resounds.

There was a great deal of lively discussion! Guests had plenty of time in between speeches and music for networking and conversation. Everyone was treated to tasty snacks and canapés, prepared by Roberts Macnaughten and wines form Commonwealth countries, New Zealand Australia and South Africa!

The Composition Award is already running in four pilot countries – Antigua and Barbuda, India, Rwanda and New Zealand. Young people are being trained to compose their own music, and other countries (including Cyprus and Sri Lanka) are hoping to join them for the second phase of the award.

“A Connected Commonwealth is a Composing Commonwealth!” Her Excellency, Baroness Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

“Composition is a very special and personal thing. I am excited to see what the results will be from the four pilot countries!” Geoff Parkin, Artistic Director, Royal Over-Seas League and Patron of the Commonwealth Resounds

“I have no doubt that the Composition Award will flourish and deliver some life-changing experiences for young people across the globe.” Paul Bambrough, Principal of the Purcell School, the oldest specialist music school on the Commonwealth.

Latest news

Final Shortlist Announced

We are delighted to announce the final shortlist for our First Commonwealth International Composition Award in association with ABRSM and The Purcell School. The number and standard of entries was extremely high and the judges were very impressed with every single composition.

YOUNG COMPOSERS SHORTLISTED FOR THE FINAL
‘ FLYERS ’

Childhood Impressions by Xiaole Zhan (New Zealand)
Hero’s Journey No 2 by Andrew Udal – (Australia)
Time by Devon Mallin Halim – (Indonesia)
Vorfreude by Nathaniel Koh – (New Zealand)
Be the Light by Hui Zhou Rong Isaiah – (Singapore)
Jive of the Jumble by Aliyah Ramatally – (Trinidad and Tobago)
Fou by Brianna Georges – (Antigua and Barbuda)
Ashore by Khadijah Simon – (Antigua and Barbuda)
Classic Arab by Dana Al Tajer – (Bahrain)
Kawbatau by Virginia Baird – (New Zealand)

HIGHLY COMMENDED ENTRIES FROM PILOT COUNTIES
‘ STARTERS ’

Antigua and Barbuda – Erienne Peters – The Reckoning
India – Manuel Dias – Synchronicity in A minor
New Zealand – Emily Gambrill – School Bells

 

The Commonwealth International Composition Award

The Commonwealth International Composition Award

Visit https://cicompositionaward.com/

The Commonwealth International Composition Award is open to young composers all over the world. We are offering exceptional levels of online training and support to all those who wish to take part.

Four Commonwealth countries which have been chosen to run our training programme are Antigua and Barbuda, New Zealand, Rwanda and India

The administrative base for this exciting new award is at the Purcell School for Young Musicians, which is the Commonwealth’s oldest specialist music school.

Please contact Sam Buttler, Competition Manager for further information. compositioncompetition@gmail.com

The Commonwealth International Composition Award – Official Launch

The Commonwealth International Composition Award – Official Launch

We are delighted to announce the official launch of The Commonwealth International Composition Award will take place on 30th April 2019, in Marlborough House.

The evening will be presented by BBC Radio 4 presenter and newsreader, Zeb Soanes.

As well as The Commonwealth Resounds, the main partners and sponsors are the ABRSM and the Purcell School for Young Musicians which is the administrative base for the Composition Award.

Around the world, very few young people are learning how to to compose music This is why the Commonwealth International Composition Award has been created. It will be run and managed by The Commonwealth Resounds, an officially accredited Commonwealth musical organisation, supported by the ABRSM and have its administrative base at The Purcell School for Young Musicians.

 

In association with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) and the Purcell School for Young Musicians

Do you want to learn how to compose music?

If so, click here to find out how….

The Official Launch of the Commonwealth International Composition Award was held at Marlborough House on Tuesday 30th April. It was attended by many distinguished guests from the music profession and the Commonwealth and hosted by Zeb Soanes, BBC Presenter and Author.

Speakers included Her Excellency The Secreatry_General of the Commonwealth, Her Excellency the High Commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda, Geoff Parkin, Artistic Director, Royal Over-Seas League, Michael Elliot, Chief Executive, ABRSM, Paul Bambrough, Principal, The Purcell School for Young Musicians, Daniel Spreadbury, Marketing Manager, Dorico, Kuljit Bhamra, Composer, Tabla Explorer and De-mystifier of Indian Music and Alison Cos OBE, Founder and chair of Trustees, The Commonwealth Resounds.

Two exciting new pieces by young composers were presented. ‘Tiger Teeth’ by Sasha Scott aged 17 (cultural background from Barbados, Jamaica and the UK) performed by a school-age string quartet from the Purcell School for Young Musicians and ‘Adam’s Peak’ by Vionthya Perinpanathan (cultural background from Sri Lanka) performed by Kuljit Bhamra – tabla and Leonie Adams. – cello. Leonie is the Musical Director of Dionysus, Ensemble-in Residence for the Commonwealth Resounds.

There was a great deal of lively discussion! Guests had plenty of time in between speeches and music for networking and conversation. Everyone was treated to tasty snacks and canapés, prepared by Roberts Macnaughten and wines form Commonwealth countries, New Zealand Australia and South Africa!

The Composition Award is already running in four pilot countries – Antigua and Barbuda, India, Rwanda and New Zealand. Young people are being trained to compose their own music, and other countries (including Cyprus and Sri Lanka) are hoping to join them for the second phase of the award.

“A Connected Commonwealth is a Composing Commonwealth!” Her Excellency, Baroness Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

“Composition is a very special and personal thing. I am excited to see what the results will be from the four pilot countries!” Geoff Parkin, Artistic Director, Royal Over-Seas League and Patron of the Commonwealth Resounds

“I have no doubt that the Composition Award will flourish and deliver some life-changing experiences for young people across the globe.”Paul Bambrough, Principal of the Purcell School, the oldest specialist music school on the Commonwealth.