Welcome to our pilot project, where we are proud to be working with
THE ACORN STRING QUARTET
in association with young composer
What is the scheme about?
Goldfield Young Chamber Musicians (GYCM) is a new scheme to support young chamber musicians. It is modelled on our successful ‘gold star’ bespoke work with composers, facilitating artistic development, creating opportunities and devising frameworks in which musicians can experiment, take risks and collaborate. It’s a holistic approach that embraces and supports all aspects of successful chamber music making, many of which take a great deal of time to develop and mature.
The nature of the support is determined by what the young ensemble needs. They may benefit from a variety of high-level coaching, they may be seeking more performance opportunities or guidance on how to expand their repertoire. They may wish to collaborate with other artists and musicians. They might need a recording to help them enter competitions or later-stage mentoring in the practical side and logistics of running a successful ensemble.
Goldfield will commit to working with an ensemble initially for a year and possibly for much longer. The scheme is flexible in order to complement existing support (eg coaches and teachers already working with ensembles) and sit side-by side with other schemes for young musicians, which we actively promote.
Who is it for?
In 2019-2020 we will be piloting this scheme with The Acorn String Quartet and composer Kathleen Archbold, offering a ‘musical home’ to this group of young musicians who are well known to us.
- work with them to schedule regular rehearsal sessions (moving towards being more independent)
- arrange high quality coaching sessions from our network of of superb colleagues
- identify suitable performance opportunities / competitions etc to raise their profile and give them goals to work towards
- facilitate the collaboration with composer Kathleen Archbold, encouraging the quartet to expand their repertoire, enjoy contemporary music and provide platforms for Kathleen’s music
GYCM shares the values that inform all our with artists and young people: a ‘light touch’ approach that encourages individuality, creativity and independence to flourish within a supportive, caring framework.
Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to read more about this fabulous ensemble and associate composer!
Why is chamber music so important?
Playing in a small ensemble is all about collaboration. No one dictates and the musicians come to a mutual understanding about the piece of music they are playing. Every chamber musician has their own individual part, yet they work together to play as one, developing a remarkable sense of camaraderie, respect and team work. Young chamber musicians learn to listen to and watch each other closely, sometimes leading and other times following. They develop their musical imagination and self confidence as they try out ideas together and they learn to give and be open to constructive criticism. Chamber Music is a shared journey of emotional, artistic and intellectual development. It pushes you to contribute fully as a musician and can lead to a lifetime of friendships. And its great fun!
Skills for life
Playing chamber music requires special skills, musical and socially, which differ from those required to play as a soloist or in an orchestra. They also all happen to be valuable outside music:
- Collaboration: Chamber Music involves working together equally, sharing opinions and striving to come together to make something beautiful. Each individual voice is important, and so is the collaboration of the voices together.
- Leadership: Each member of the group takes a leadership role at different times
- Self-awareness: Chamber Musicians learn to constantly reassess, reflect on what they do well, and determine what improvements need to be made
- Independence and cooperation: Chamber Musicians develop a strong ability to work alone and then apply this knowledge when working with others to achieve a greater goal.
- Responsibility: Preparation of your own part, attendance and punctuality become very important; players learn to be responsible for regular, faithful attendance and develop excellent organisational and planning skills
- Performance Skills: Control of performance nerves translates to auditions, interviews, presentations, and any type of public speaking.
We believe that Chamber Music is one of life’s best teachers as well as one of life’s greatest joys.
But these skills take time and care to develop…
What next? (and ‘does the scheme work?’)
We will use the 2019-20 pilot to evaluate the long-term need for such a scheme. We will be asking:
- are the benefits of this scheme unique and can we demonstrate this? Or can the benefits be gained elsewhere?
- what is the scale of need for this type of programme? (ie should we and can we expand to take on more than one chamber group per year? )
- are the outcomes and achievements of this scheme significant enough for us to attract funding in order to make the scheme accessible to all?
- is this the most effective way to mentor young chamber musicians?
If we feel there is long-term potential in the scheme, we plan to expand beyond 2020. We are very keen to support and develop non-standard ensembles of all types, reflecting the contemporary music world and encouraging a mind-set that generates opportunities and repertoire where none exist.
As with all our collaborative work, we are most keen to work with musicians who we feel will benefit the most from what we can offer. We aim to be the catalyst for positive change, using our experience and networks to enable others to develop but always allowing the individuality of the artist to shine though.
All About The Acorns and Kathleen!
The Acorn String Quartet was founded by the visionary music educator and violinist Naomi Morris in 2013. Realising that she had ‘four very able, very young string players’ at the local North Hertfordshire Music School, she brought them together to form a string quartet with an age range of 7-10. Two of the founder quartet members (violinists Eleanor Mackey and Olivia Trezise) remain in the Acorn Quartet. In 2017, the quartet temporarily became a trio with cellist Imogen Canell and in 2018 they welcomed violist Frederik Simmen to the quartet. All four players are also experienced and committed orchestral musicians.
They have played many quartets by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven and also enjoy lighter (though challenging) arrangements in their programmes. The Acorn String Quartet have performed extensively at the North Herts Music School and at public functions in the Hertfordshire area. The young musicians named the quartet ‘The Acorns’, imagining themselves growing into young saplings and finally maturing into strong oak trees. They are currently all aged between 13 and 16 and live in the North Herts area.
‘An outstanding, versatile young string quartet…mature playing beyond their years’ (Nicky Footer, educator and former Head of North Herts Music School)
'What we love about playing in The Acorns...'
‘Playing with the Acorns is like travelling to my happy place where I not only get to share my love of music with my friends playing alongside me, but I get to experience the joy it gives other people when we play for them’ [Olivia Trezise -violin]
‘Playing together in Acorns is an experience like no other – the bond we have formed over the years as a quartet is really special. Being in a quartet demands a close connection between players and we have so much fun rehearsing and playing together – which I hope translates into our performances!’ [Imogen Canell – cello]
‘Playing in a string quartet is an incredible experience because everyone listens to each other and you can really immerse yourself in the music. Playing with the Acorns has changed my outlook on music completely and I love spending time with the other members because we have become really good friends. I hope that others enjoy listening to our music as much as we enjoy making it!’ [Eleanor Mackey – violin]
Eleanor Mackey – violin
When Eleanor was two, she saw her grandfather playing Monti’s Czardas and announced, ‘I’m going to do that‘. Since being given her first, tiny violin for her third birthday, the violin has been a major part of her life.
Eleanor has been taught for the past eight years by Rowena Thompson. She has attended Saturday Morning Music School for nearly ten years and now leads Chamber Strings. She co-leads the North Herts & Stevenage Youth Orchestra, with whom she has performed many times at the Hitchin Picnic in the Park extravaganza.
At the age of five, Eleanor joined The English Symphony Orchestra’s outreach programme and now plays with the Youth Orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Woods. A recent residential course saw the orchestra working intensively on Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. Eleanor also plays with the Hertfordshire Schools’ Symphony Orchestra who have performed at The Royal Albert Hall. She loves the residential courses (and that’s not just because of the food!): the chance to spend time with other like-minded young people is very special.
Two years ago, a session orchestra course inspired Eleanor to take up the trombone! She is now working for grade 5 and plays with the competitive Letchworth Garden City Band. Eleanor is in Year 10 at St Francis’ College, Letchworth, where she plays and sings in all available groups. This term, Eleanor is very excited to be playing Sandy in the school show, Grease.
When she isn’t making music, Eleanor is a bookworm and a keen photographer with a special interest in photographing birds. She has always loved making things, ranging from jewellery to a Tudor costume for herself and she enjoys planning out house interiors.
Olivia Trezise – violin
Olivia started learning the violin at the age of 5 and was taught by Naomi Morris at the North Hertfordshire Music School for 7 years. At the age of 8, she won a place in the National Children’s Orchestra Under-Tens and has been a member of the age-banded orchestras every year. She currently plays first violin with the NCO Main Orchestra and has enjoyed taking part in performances at Birmingham Town Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall. In 2019 she was principal violinist of the NCO Easterlies Orchestra conducted by Alex Laing.
In 2017, Olivia joined the Royal Academy of Music (primary school) and in 2018, she started Junior Guildhall where she now studies violin with Ruth Hahn and leads the Guildhall Junior String Orchestra.
Olivia is very grateful to be part of the Benslow Musical Instrument Loan scheme. She is currently playing on an early 19th century George Craske English violin. In December, she will perform the Haydn G Major concerto with the Haydn Collective at St Martin’s Church, Salisbury.
Olivia is a 13 year old student at Knight Templar School (year 9). She plays a very pro-active part in musical life at the school as performer, singer, conductor of school choirs and composer. In her spare time, Livvy loves writing and making shows and is a committed climate-change activist.
Frederik Simmen – viola
Frederik is 13 years old and currently attends Bedford School. He started playing the viola at the age of 5 with Suzuki Viola teacher Ruth Furniss and has for the past 3 years had the pleasure of being taught by violist Vanessa Gaidoni.
He has been an active member of North Hertfordshire Music School for many years and has progressed through string ensembles, chamber groups and most recently as section leader in the North Herts and Stevenage Youth Orchestra. At the age of 9 Frederik successfully gained a place in the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain and has been playing the viola in their age banded national orchestra and their Easterlies Orchestra in Cambridge for the past 4 years.
2018/2019 NCO highlights for Frederik included playing at Birmingham Town Hall, The Lighthouse Poole and Portsmouth Guildhall and his personal favourites have been playing their spring and summer concerts; ‘Music for Movement’ conducted by Etienne Abelin and ‘One Giant Leap’ conducted by Natalia Luis-Bassa, celebrating 50 years since the first moon landing.
Frederik currently plays a 19th Century German Viola kindly lent to him through the Benslow Instrument Loan Scheme. Frederik’s other interests includes playing the piano, singing, and composing. He loves physics, science and philosophy and is a keen astronomer.
Imogen Canell – cello
Imogen’s love of cello began when she was introduced to the instrument via a ‘wider opportunities’ scheme at primary school age eight. Since then, this love has continued to grow as she experiences new musical opportunities that the solo, chamber and orchestral repertoire brings. Immie has been a member of The Acorn Quartet since 2015. For the past 6 years she has been taught by Tim Steggals who is principal cellist of the De Havilland Philharmonic and regularly plays with the Royal Philharmonic and the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Imogen currently attends Hitchin Girls’ School where she has just started her A levels in Physics, Computer Science, Maths and Further Maths. She is an active member of many chamber and orchestral groups, both within school and in the Hertfordshire area and is currently co-principal cello of the Hertfordshire Schools Symphony Orchestra which she has been a member of for the last 3 years. She has loved the opportunity of touring with the HSSO and playing at inspiring venues such as the Royal Albert Hall.
Imogen is also a keen pianist and in July 2019 was one of 4 soloists who performed ‘The Carnival of the Animals‘ with professional musicians at the Elmitt Academy.
As well as music, Immie’s other passions are reading and anything to do with Space. In her spare time she is usually found with her head in a book and her dream is to study astrophysics in due course – her motto is “Aim for the stars”.
Kathleen Archbold – composer
Kathleen started composing at the age of 6. In 2015, her String Trio was a finalist in the younger category of the European String Teachers Association composition competition at the Purcell School. She has written two songs, which have been performed by the New London Children’s Choir.
In 2016 at the age of 12, Kathleen joined the Royal College of Music Junior Department as a first-study composer where she studies with Simon Speare. and has written for professional groups such as the JUICE vocal trio in 2018 and the Onyx Brass Quintet in 2019, as well as writing for small groups of performers at the RCMJD. In 2019, she won the Joan Weller Prize for a portfolio of three pieces: Dark Matter for brass quintet, Higgs Field for piano quintet and Annihilating Neutrinos for flute and horn. In 2019 she was also shortlisted for the BBC Proms Inspire Competition for Dark Matter. Her orchestral piece Silhouette (2018) was performed by Haringey Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra.
Kathleen is also a multi-instrumentalist: she plays both viola, violin and flute to grade 8 distinction standard and is highly active in her Junior Conservatoire orchestras and the Haringey Young Musician orchestras with whom she toured to Texas last year. She sings in the New London Children’s Choir in venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, the Royal Albert Hall in the 2017 BBC Proms, and at Milton Court for the choir’s 25th Birthday Concert.
Kathleen has a strong interest in particle physics, and attended the Particle Physics Summer School at St Paul’s School in 2019.