Northumberland Music Festival

Chetham's School, at  The Northumberland Music Festival
Chetham's School, at The Northumberland Music Festival

As part of the inaugural Northumberland Music Festival, young pianists are being offered a fantastic opportunity – the chance to scale the heights with the help of a serious international musician.

Pianists of 18 or under are being invited to spend an afternoon piano workshop working with one the UK’s foremost concert pianists, Murray McLachlan.

Murray McLachlan

Murray McLachlan

During this workshop, they will also be given the chance to perform with talented students from the world-famous Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.

This unique masterclass is being held at Doxford Hall Hotel near Alnwick, on Thursday, November 3.

To qualify, pianists from Northumberland must be aged 18 or under and have achieved at least Grade 7 Piano. The selection criteria for the workshop will be based on the following:

l Why you want to be considered?

Doxford Hall

Doxford Hall

l What your aspirations are for the future?

l Applications should ideally be supported with a statement from their piano or school music teacher.

There’s no doubt that any young person in Northumberland who loves the piano would truly benefit from this workshop, and Murray describes the programme for the session: “I will complete a mini lesson with everyone who signs up – we’ll work on one or two pieces of five-to-10 minutes that they are currently practicing and working on and this will be followed up with a general question and answer session.

“Our two jazz students from Chetham’s will play and talk about how they have developed their improvisation skills.

Guyzance Hall

Guyzance Hall

“If any of the participants would like to try some improvisation with them they would be most welcome.”

“At the end, all the participants and the two students from Chetham’s would perform in a closing concert pieces of their own choice, which could be the pieces on which they have just had their mini lessons with me.”

As Head of Keyboard at Chetham’s School, Murray McLachlan works to develop the talents of a new generation of musicians. Under him, the school has developed a thriving musical programme and its musicians make regular CDs under his direction.

McLachlan is also a concert pianist with a record or two under his belt. He played the last piano concerto performance of the 20th Century at the Albert Hall, when he played Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the BBC Concert Orchestra. He has made over 30 recordings, many of them award-winning.

Eshott Hall

Eshott Hall

Any young Northumbrian musician who qualifies and would like to be considered should get in touch with the festival organisers at 01668 283100, or email info@nmfestival.com for an application form.

In addition to the Piano Masterclass, the musicians from Chetham’s will be playing a concert of jazz and classical the night before on Wednesday, November 2.

During this concert, the students will play pieces by Bach and Liszt, modern classics including Somewhere Over The Rainbow and Free Bird, a piece written by student Mathis Picard. Murray himself will play two of the piano’s towering masterworks, Chaconne in D Minor by Bach-Busoni and Chopin’s 24 Preludes, Op.28.

The Northumberland Music Festival is the first festival of its kind ever to have been held in the county.

Other major concerts include gala opera and Gilbert and Sullivan performances, presented by Robin Newton, Head of Music at the renowned Garsington Opera, plus string quartets, music for brass band and chamber, and traditional Northumbrian music.

Artists performing include soprano Samantha Crawford, who regularly performs on BBC Radio Three and has appeared on BBC’s Last Night of the Proms, the Children in Need Concert and Songs of Praise. Also singing are ex-stars from the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, including mezzo soprano Pauline Birchall and tenor Stephen Brown.

The Polyphonic Brass Quintet

The Polyphonic Brass Quintet

The Durham Miners’ Association Brass Band and Polyphonic Brass from Manchester will be on hand, as will the Kingsmead String Quartet whose members have played with orchestras around the world.

Traditional musicians Northumbrian Pipes and Fiddle and the young talents of the Northumbrian Ranters will provide a strong local feel to the programme.

For the duration of the festival, Doxford Hall and Eshott Hall are offering a very special accommodation rate of only £60 per person per night bed and breakfast (this rate is subject to availability and based on sharing a twin or double room)

For full details about the Northumberland Music Festival please visit www.nmfestival.com, or email info@nmfestival.com or telephone 01668 283100.

Robin Newton, head of music at Garsington Opera.

Robin Newton, head of music at Garsington Opera.