Showing posts with label London 2012 Festival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label London 2012 Festival. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Breaking news: Music is left out of education reform again

Legacy? What legacy? The runaway success of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival looked set to prove to everyone that the UK's arts scene is second to none. But that's meaningless without the follow-up of lasting care and attention at grass-roots level - ie, in education. And as our dear government - specifically Michael Gove, the education minister - announces further plans for the reform of the schooling system, this time replacing GCSEs with something called the EBac, creativity and the arts are not just out in the cold, but nowhere to be seen.

Of course, the government has already excised state funding in its entirety from all arts further education in England, including from all the music colleges. While many of us have felt it best to give the directors of those institutions the space and privacy to negotiate behind the scenes for the most positive outcome possible, I can't help feeling we should have yelled a bit more about it from the start. To trumpet the excellence of British arts during the Olympics, while simultaneously removing the hope of training for anyone who can't access the funds to pay for it, represents mendacious hypocrisy at its zenith.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians has produced a strong response to the omission of arts and creativity from the EBac, pointing out that in the end it's the UK economy that's going to suffer. Here's the ISM's statement.

Missed opportunity for the economy as Government forgets the Olympics lessons

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) – the UK’s professional body for music teachers, performers and composers – has condemned the proposals for GCSE reform which threaten to damage not just our children’s education but also our economy.

Having criticised the English Baccalaureate (EBac) in its original incarnation, the ISM is even more concerned at the present proposals which will increase pressure on pupils to study the six areas of maths, English, sciences, languages and humanities with no creative subjects at all being present.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the ISM, said:

‘These proposals represent a missed opportunity to reform our education system. Michael Gove will ensure with these so-called reforms that the UK loses its competitive edge in the fields in which we are world class. It is as if the Olympics never happened. Design – gone, technology – gone, music – gone.

‘This short sighted, wholesale attack on secondary music education will emasculate not only our world class music education system but also our entire creative economy which is estimated as contributing up to 10% of our GDP.

‘In its present form, intellectual and rigorous subjects like music are nowhere to be seen in the EBac offer. In its present form, the CBI, Creative Industries Council, ISM and Cultural Learning Alliance are all seeking reform of the EBac to include at least some of what the UK economy is good at: creativity and culture.’

Diana Johnson, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Music Education and a former education minister said:

‘The Secretary of State for Education has clearly forgotten all his warm words about music education in the past to launch an assault on music in secondary schools. Music education in the UK is world class, contributing hugely to our economy. The absence of music and any other creative or innovative subject from the EBac will further undermine the UK's progress in some of the growth generating industries of the future. We just saw Olympic and Paralympic closing ceremonies showing off some of the best of British music, design and creativity. The Government should at least include music in the English Baccalaureate.’

Fact checker: Gaps in the Secretary of State’s statement

1. In his statement to Parliament, whilst warning that the previous ‘examination system [had] narrowed the curriculum’ Mr Gove continued to promote the EBac, a course which is causing schools to drop music and other creative and cultural subjects.
2. Whilst claiming that higher education providers back the English Baccalaureate, Mr Gove forgot to mention that advice from the Russell Group only refers to post-16 study, not pre-16 study, and forgot to mention some Universities – like Trinity College Cambridge – make their own list of rigorous subjects which include music.
3. Whilst claiming that the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) had backed ‘widespread view among business that we needed to reform GCSEs’ Mr Gove forgot to mention that the CBI has explicitly criticised the EBac in its present form for omitting creative and technical subjects from the EBac.

Deborah concluded:

‘This Government was formed with the claim that they knew how to get the economy moving, yesterday, they proved that this was not the case. You would be forgiven for forgetting that the Olympics, Cultural Olympiad and Opening and Closing ceremonies had just taken place. You could be forgiven for missing out the importance of creativity, technology and the UK’s leading position in the music industry to our economy.’

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Olympians head for Last Night of the Proms

You'd think the presence of Nicola Benedetti and Joseph Calleja would be musical Olympics enough, but there's an extra dimension to tonight's Last Night of the Proms. Look who's coming to listen.

Last Night of the Proms welcomes Team GB and ParalympicsGB to celebrate the end
of an extraordinary summer
Saturday 8 September 2012
The BBC Proms is delighted to announce that athletes from Team GB and ParalympicsGB will be joining the Last Night festivities at the Royal Albert Hall and in Hyde Park tomorrow evening. Following an invitation from BBC Proms Director Roger Wright to all that took part in this summer’s Games, the Proms is delighted to welcome over 80 athletes to the Last Night celebrations.
In keeping with the return of Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea-Songs in the traditional second half of the Royal Albert Hall concert (live on BBC One), the BBC Proms is thrilled to be joined in the hall by rulers of the waves themselves: Team GB Gold medal winners in the Mens Coxless Fours Alex Gregor, Tom James MBE and Pete Reed; Silver medallist in the Lightweight Mens Double Sculls Zac Purchase MBE and the complete ParalympicGB Mixed Coxed Fours Gold medal winners David Smith, James Roe, Naomi Riches, Pam Relph and Lily van den Broecke (cox).

Last night at the Vienna Philharmonic, the front-section Promenaders did their best to get into the spirit of the LNOTP by doing a few knee-bends to the encore, J Strauss's waltz Voices of Spring. Only a few, though. For a nuanced write-up of the concert I'm going to refer you to the sterling Boulezian.

As for tonight, fabulous to know that 900-carat Calleja will be beamed out to the entire world. So everyone can hear that the golden age of the Tenor Voice has by no means been and gone. It's alive and well and flying out fresh from Malta. Here's an extract from his new album, Be My Love - a tribute to Mario Lanza. Actually he leaves Lanza standing. (Be my love? Any time, Joe. Any time.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Saturday, July 07, 2012


They open on Friday 13th and they have to hold their own against nothing less than the Olympics. Can they do it?

You bet they can. Here's my Proms preview, cover feature for the 'Radar' section of today's Independent:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

On your marks, get set...

...GO! Yet the identity of the extreme cultural bonanza that is the London 2012 Festival is anything but clear. I've tried to unravel it all in today's Independent, but when I tried to draw a Venn Diagram it ended up looking like a psychedelic Mickey Mouse. We probably won't see the likes of this festival again, though. Its existence must not be used as an excuse to relegate the arts, thereafter, to the austerity-bound sidelines. They should always be this central to a civilised society.

Read the whole thing here: