A new organization to serve the needs of all manner of wind ensembles has just been formed, with its home base at a prominent school in the North West of England. It is to be named the International Centre for Wind Ensembles. Details can be seen at www.icwe.org.uk
Scarisbrick Hall is an independent school situated on the outskirts of Liverpool. With a policy of emphasizing and supporting excellence in the performing arts, the school has embraced a number of projects, beginning with activity on the local and national level within the UK. Long-term plans aim to realize the organization’s potential on an international level.
Much of the impetus for this vision come from two members of the Scarisbrick Hall School faculty, both of whom are flutists. James Bullock is head of the music program. It is largely due to their confidence in Mr. Bullock’s leadership that the school’s board is embracing the programs that are unfolding through ICWE.
Joining the staff at the beginning of the current academic year, Phil Shotton is musician in residence at Scarisbrick. As leader and conductor for the Maghull Wind Orchestra and the jazz big band Swingshift, Shotton immediately brings two high-quality ensembles under the ICME umbrella. He has also joined with this writer in the leadership of the Jazz Flute Big Band, sharing the role of Music Director/conductor with Andy Panayi in directing JFBB ensembles in London, Liverpool and, coming soon, in Birmingham. He recently directed the JFBB performance at the London Jazz Festival.
ICWE itself comes under the umbrella of a larger organization. BASBWE is the British Association of Symphonic Band & Wind Ensembles. BASBWE held its Northern Conference at Scarisbrick, November 26 & 27 featuring workshops, seminars and masterclasses with musicians from the the age of 5 to 85, culminating in performances by the Maghull Wind Orchestra supplemented by musicians from several local wind ensembles. The rehearsals and concerts featured compositions specially commissioned for the purpose by both established as well as up-and-coming British composers, Andy Scott, Andrew Roberts, Michael Betteridge and Bill Connor. Scott and Roberts were featured on tenor saxophone and clarinet respectively, while Connors composition featured contributions from Scarisbrick students and members of class 3C of a local primary school. The concert also featured the premiere of a piece, Voyage of Valour, specially commissioned for the MWO by BASBWE, from Liverpool composer Adam Roberts.
It was during this weekend and in this context that ICWE was launched. One of its missions, which is also a major purpose of BASBWE, is clearly stated in the programme:
“One of BASBWE’s most fundamental activities is to support the creation of new music. Somewhere, somehow, at some point in the early 20th Century, composers and professional musicians lost contact with the concert-going public and “contemporary music” lost its literal meaning – music of its time – and acquired connotations of difficulty, inapproachability, and an inability to connect with audiences.
“It is BASBWE’s belief that repairing this link is fundamental to the continued development and success of both our medium, and that of “classical music” in general, in the 21st Century.”
With such a mission statement ICWE will be engaging with a number of projects in co-operation with Flute Journal and the International Jazz Flute Big Band. Watch for more information.
Report by Peter Westbrook
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