News about kids and music

Piano manufacturing returns to the UK

When Kemble was acquired by Yamaha, the British door was closed on piano making after a long period high quality marques being produced. Now, Yorkshire Pianos in Bolton Abbey has started to manufacture Cavendish Pianos:


There is a tradition of piano making in Britain which stretches back over 200 years. Many of history's greatest composers owned and played British pianos; Chopin, Liszt, J.C. Bach among many others. In "The golden age of piano making" Britain boasted 360 piano makers at the turn of the century which supplied the entire globe. Sadly, this great industry has now all but disappeared from our shores. Notably in April 2003 The British Piano Manufacturing Co. and in October 2009 Kemble Pianos closed their gates for the last time.

Cavendish Pianos, based in Yorkshire, are resurrecting the lost art of piano making in Britain through the creation of a Craftsman's Co-operative.  Piano Builders, Action specialists, Stringers, Cabinet-makers, Polishers, and PianoTuners all exist in this country.
Through the Craftsman's Co-operative these skills have been pooled together to create a single finished product. Thus, rather than being produced in one factory, Cavendish Pianos are made by a series of small businesses each with their own speciality. This promotes a higher degree of efficiency, less waste and more integrity and pride in each individual aspect of the piano's make-up. 
Craftsmanship-based small businesses in the UK are often finding themselves marginalized by mass-produced imported goods. Cavendish Pianos supports home-grown business and believes such firms can be competitive, have a part to play and a real future. 
Many components also continue to be made in this country. British felts and cloths are widely regarded as the worlds finest. String-makers still exist who have learned the specialized skill of hand winding piano strings have practised all their lives. British oak, ash and walnut is used for components and cabinets. A high grade hammer and British made strings and design give Cavendish Pianos their distinctive classic, European tone. This is a far cry from the harsh Japanese tone of many mass-produced pianos. In many ways taste in tone has gone full circle as we see a tendency for people to prefer a more mellow, sweeter, traditional sound.


Umi Garrett

Piano Stars Festival presentation concert in Riga

The XX International Piano Stars Festival anniversary celebration will begin with a presentation concert on March 9, in Riga, the Great Guild Hall. One of the festival concerts will take place also in Ventspils, Theatre House Juras Varti on March 14. The rest of the concerts will as always be held in the Liepaja Theatre.

In the festival opening concert, which will take place on March 9, in Riga, the audience will have unique opportunity to hear three outstanding pianists - Brigitte Engerer from France, Anton Lyakhovsky from Russia and the little genius - 11 years old Umi Garrett from the USA. The Liepaja Symphony Amber Sound Orchestra will be conducted by Atvars Lakstigala. Two days later, on March 11, this concert will also take place in the main location of festival – the Liepaja Theatre.

Uldis Lipskis, manager of the Liepaja Symphony Amber Sound Orchestra, proudly tells that: "During anniversary of the International Piano Stars Festival for the first time we will take a representation concert to Riga. The program of this concert will represent the essence of the whole festival - classical values, retrospection and a look in the future. Brigitte Engerer and Anton Lyakhovsky were especially beloved by the audience of previous festival concerts, Umi Garrett - the youngest participant in the history of this festival. During this concert, both youth and maturity, rich past and hopeful, intriguing future of the festifal will meet in the music of Mozart, Sen-Sans and Tchaikovsky.

This year citizens of Ventspils will have a chance to enjoy performance of the wonderful Belarussian duet by Natalia Kotova and Valery Borovikov from the program of the International Piano Stars Festival. In concert “Theatre. Love. Jazz.”, which will take place on March 14, in Ventspils, the duet will perform on two concert grands at the same time, which is a rare occasion in the concert life of Latvia. The audience in Liepaja will have an opportunity to hear this concert on March 15.

"We are always happy to collaborate with such persistent partner as Ventspils that just wants to make sure its audience has at least a glimpse of the magic of this festival," tells Uldis Lipskis.

As announced before, the International Piano Stars Festival, which has been organised by the Liepaja Symphony Amber Sound Orchestra since 1993, will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year.


7 March (2012) update

I am in Liepaja, Latvia. I had a rehearsal with Liepaja Symphony this morning! ♪( ´▽`)


This is a picture of me practicing before the rehearsal. ♪(´ε` )

Japan Tsunami and Umi - 1 year on


One year passed after the earthquake in Japan. Dear all my friends and families, thank you for your praying for us last year.

And now to Russia (12 March 2012)

I just arrived at Moscow, Russia now. It's cold! Lots of snow on the ground! (*^^*)

   Naomi Druskic

Naomi will be performing in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Auditorium na SAIS - John Hopkins on the 26th March 2012.

Naomi Druškić To Represent Bosnia-Herzegovina

Naomi Druškić To Represent Bosnia-Herzegovina
Naomi Druškić (Courtesy: BHRT)

Sarajevo -

Bosnia-Herzegovina will take part in the Eurovision Young Musicians competition for the first time this May in Vienna, and they've already picked their representative.

13-year old Naomi Druškić, who hails from Sarajevo, has been selected to represent Bosnia-Herzegovina in their first ever participation in the Eurovision Young Musicians competition. Naomi, who will play the piano, was selected by a Radio Television of Bosnia-Herzegovina together with the Music Arts Foundation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I would like to thank BHRT and Music Arts Foundation. I am glad to represent Bosnia and Herzegovina at European musical talents competition in Vienna. I will try as hard as I can to justify the trust placed in me and to represent our country in the best possible way” she said, talking about her selection.

From Banja Luka and Belgrade to Singapore and Italy, Naomi has won numerous international awards during her short career. She first began playing the piano aged six, and made her first appearance with the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra aged just seven. She has held concerts in the USA, Singapore, China, Croatia, Germany and Italy. She has also had noticeable appearances at Baščaršijske noći festival and Central Music Conservatory in Bejing, whilst also appearing in Washington at the Kennedy Auditorium.

At the end of 2012 she will perform with the Royal Phillarmonic Orchestra in London for the film “Earth Chronicles” by special invitation of John Brynata, making it a big year for Naomi Druškić with the Eurovision Young Musicians competition in May.

                  Nadia Azzi

 Forthcoming performances in 2012: Nadia  performed at Carnegie Hall on 2/4/12 (4/2/12 in British English) and will perform a Beethoven Concerto with Tampa Bay Symphony in April after winning the Young Artist Competition.

 Nadia in late 2011

    Nadia has become the 1st place winner at the Crescendo Int'l   


   Nadia performed to over a thousand people in Montreal on Saturday,

                                       17th December 2011.

                  Benji, a candidate for The Daily Telegraph Briton Of The Year 2011 -

                                                announced 28th December 2011

Benjamin Grosvenor
Pianist with greatness at his fingertips

A shy 19-year-old from Southend seems destined to become one of the great pianists of the 21st century. Indeed, if you were to listen blind to Benjamin Grosvenor’s debut album of works by Chopin, Liszt and Ravel, you might think that he already belongs in this category. Benjamin, the youngest of five brothers, is a student at the Royal Academy of Music. What on earth can it teach him? He has already played at the Proms; his recorded Chopin produces a balance of whispering delicacy and bravura outbursts – bound together with fierce intelligence – rarely heard since the heyday of Horowitz. He may still be a teenager, but it would be an insult to describe him as a prodigy. He is better than that.



       National music plan unveiled with an ensemble of cuts

       Gove announces radical shakeup in children's music education – to the tune of vastly reduced funding.

Sistema Scotland  

The right note … Children attending a music education project inspired by a project in Venezuela. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian
Charlotte Higgins, chief arts writer

The Guardian, Fri 25 Nov 2011 16.14 GMT

A national plan for music teaching in England – with some inspiration taken from Hugo Chávez's Venezuela – is to be rolled out from summer next year.

The national music plan, jointly set out by the education secretary, Michael Gove and the culture minister, Ed Vaizey, aims to give every child, regardless of where they live or how well off they are, the chance to learn to play a musical instrument. "Hubs" will be created to provide music education locally.
But they will do so on vastly reduced funding. At the moment, £77.5m is allocated for music tuition by the Department for Education, via local authorities. The money will drop to £75m from April 2012, £63m the following year and down to £58m in 2014-15.

Under the plan, an extra £1m will be devoted to extending In Harmony, a music-education scheme in Norwich, Liverpool and Lambeth inspired by the Venezuelan El Sistema, a radical social-inclusion project in which children from the poorest backgrounds are given intensive music education to help them escape the poverty trap.
But the most significant change is the decision to replace local authority music services, which a recent government-commissioned report described as patchy – excellent in some areas, but with quality varying hugely across the country.
Existing music services as well as other suitably qualified organisations or venues can apply to become hubs. They may cover one or more local authority, and it is expected that professional orchestras and ensembles in the area will be involved in their local hub.

The restructuring means that most children learning instruments, whether inside or outside the classroom, will do so through their local music hub. They will provide support for school music teachers, be the focus for providing individual instrumental tuition and provide opportunities for children to play in ensembles and the chance to learn from locally based professional musicians.

The funding regime has been reformed so that it is now decided on a "per pupil" basis, with weighting for deprived areas. It is aimed to be a fairer regime, though some areas, such as Manchester, will see funding for music education drop as a result. Applications to become hubs will be assessed by Arts Council England, the arts funding body, which hitherto has not been involved in administering funds from the Department for Education.

Applications to provide hubs close on 17 February, with announcements of the successful contenders in April. They will be providing musical education from the autumn term of 2012.
Gove said: "All pupils should have the opportunity to enjoy and play music. However, for far too long, music education has been patchy across the country. Pupils from the poorest backgrounds have suffered most from this situation, creating a musical divide.

"The national plan for music will deliver a music education system that encourages everyone, whatever their background, to enjoy music and help those with real talent to flourish as brilliant musicians."
The plan has, in principle, been broadly welcomed by the music world, though serious concerns remain about the severe drop in funding. According to John Summers, managing director of the Hallé in Manchester, "The aspirations are terrific, and it feels like a move in the right direction. But the most disappointing thing is the money.

"There is a 20% reduction between now and 2014 without even factoring in inflation. That's massive. It's all very well to have great aspirations, but if you haven't the money to fulfil it, what is the point?

"We are all having to absorb cuts, but this is a dramatic one. The funding is dreadful."
Virginia Haworth-Galt, chief executive of Federation of Music Services, which supports and represents regional music services, said: "The FMS welcomes the government's introduction of a national plan for music education with protected funding over three years. We are pleased that the ambition of the plan focuses on core music service principles of first access, progression, ensembles and singing; we believe that hubs can build on the work of music services and schools and will improve the opportunities for all children and young people.

"… However, we still remain concerned that when this reduction in central funding is added to the many local authority cuts already announced there will be a detrimental effect on overall music provision."
There are also concerns that the aspirations of the plan will be undermined unless music forms part of the national curriculum. The findings of a review into the national curriculum will be published in the new year.
Double keyboard piano

   Au revoir Patrick Tabet

                                            Photo and tribute (below) from Steve Garrett

 Dear Valerie and our little Manon,
Umi and Carlos Miguel made this picture in memory of our dearest Patrick.
We feel so sorry for you. Umi cried when she found out about Patrick's death.
We couldn't stop crying. We remember the happy time with you, Patrick, Manon, Jacques Cinelli, and Oliver at your house. It was such a special time. Patrick was so nice to us, and he was such a funny man. He had a such a loving personality, and such a great friend. He always encouraged Umi with love. We miss him so much. We will never forget him. He stays in your heart and our heart forever. As you can see here, everyone loved him so much. Patrick, if you can hear me, please watch after Valerie and Manon. I'm sorry we couldn't visit you again. But now we feel we can talk to you anytime because you are within us.
We love you all.
From Yuriko, Steve, Umi and Carlos Miguel

 A special tribute to our dear friend Patrick Tabet who left us. Of his tumultuous life with his job as music critic he met an amazing amount of great musicians. We leave this wonderful memory for all he has undertaken vis-à-vis young talented pianist. Dear Patrick, you will always remain etched in our hearts and our minds wandering. Merci de nous avoir apporté ta présence. On behalf of all the young talents, we wish you a safe journey to the stars. Thank you for bringing your presence.

 Patrick has always been very encouraging and constructive in his comments to the young musicians on You tube. Whenever we upload a piano video, we expect to hear from him. Sadly, we won't see the encouragement from him any more. But, Patrick, we wish you could listen to this piece from heaven, and you would be proud as you always were for the achieving young musicians. We all miss you, Patrick. R.I.P.

From Charlie Liu's blog:  Patrick had been one of the greatest supporters of young musicians on Youtube, and in real life he had been supporting piano prodigy Aimi Kobayashi for years and helping the young music talent organization AADGT in recent years.  He had always left insightful and encouraging comments on Charlie’s videos and communications with him has always been pleasant.  His recommendation of Charlie and others to AADGT had led to them be noticed by the Lang Lang Foundation and Charlie was eventually selected as one of first Lang Lang Foundation Scholars.  He is a true friend who work hard for young musicians all over the world.  His passing away is young musician’s world’s loss.