artistry beyond the notes…

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Listening and Resilience in a Whitby school

As part of DeNOTE’s ongoing education outreach, we are are always keen to make a contribution to enhancing school music provision. In early May, Jane Booth and John Irving were performing a Mozart concert at St Hilda’s Priory chapel, Sneaton Castle, and fitted in a lecture-recital visit to Caedmon College in nearby Whitby. About 60 pupils, age 12-16 (including a cohort from Eskdale School) attended, listening to performances from an 1809 arrangement for clarinet and piano of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, K.581, interspersed with observations on the music, on Mozart’s compositional craft, and on the early clarinet and piano (and how these inspired Mozart’s language). It was followed by a lively Q & A session in which some of the broader benefits of a music education were raised. Here’s a report that appeared on the school’s website shortly afterwards.

Professor John Irving and Jane Booth

On Friday 6 May, music students in Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 were joined by a group of Year 7 and 9 students from Eskdale School in the Normanby hall to attend a workshop on the music of Mozart by two very special visitors: Professor John Irving, who is Professor of Performance Practice at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, London, and Jane Booth, who is Head of Historical Performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. They both specialise in ‘period instruments’ – copies of instruments from the 18th century, on which they explore and perform music from the time of Bach, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.

They delivered some captivating performances of the different movements of an arrangement of Mozart’s clarinet Quintet. They also spoke to the students about Mozart’s life and how he was influenced by his surroundings. What they emphasised most though, was that whilst Mozart was clearly talented, this only got him so far, with John saying that, “Talent is not enough for anyone to go far – talent may help in the first instance but what matters most is hard work”.

Both John and Jane also spoke about performance practice and how it is not necessarily the length of practice sessions that is most important but how you practice: “You need to identify what you are doing wrong or what precisely needs work and focus on just that. Your practice should be really focused”.

The two musicians were impressed with how well the students listened and said that this is just one of the many important and transferable life skills that we can learn from music, adding that, “Listening is just as important as doing”. Practice towards a performance also develops one’s resilience and determination and they encouraged students to always think about how they could push themselves further, in any situation, and to consider what effort they are going to have to put in to do that – as Professor Irving said, “There are no shortcuts to becoming expert at anything”.


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Hull UK City of Culture 2017

Hull is the UK’s City of Culture 2017 – and DeNOTE is a part of it!images-3

We’re thrilled to be working in partnership with Hull University next March to deliver two days of public rehearsals, workshops for students, and an evening concert celebrating Virtuosity (one of the Festival’s themes): all as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017!

Our programme is “Enduring Virtuosos: Bach and Beethoven” and it will take place in the newly-refurbished Middleton Hall at Hull University on 2 March. The previous day, we’ll be resident on campus, offering a varied diet of open ensemble rehearsals and coaching workshops for performance and composition students.

We’re absolutely delighted to be going back to this vibrant city, further extending our relationship with the University. This will be our fifth visit since 2012! Recently, we spent three hugely enjoyable days there working on Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and the Piano Concerto, K.413 with student ensembles, leading to two concerts. It’s a thriving environment for music and we’re proud to be associated with it – most especially in Hull City of Culture 2017!


Our new Bach and Beethoven programme will, unusually, approach Bach’s music from the standpoint of late 18th-century-Viennese musical tastes, and on instruments of that time. Bach was a particular favourite of the Imperial Librarian, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, whose protégé, Beethoven frequently attended his salons and performed the works of Bach alongside his own virtuosic piano compositions. Under van Swieten’s encouragement, Beethoven diligently explored Bach’s music, and it is this connection that has inspired our choice to construct a salon-like programme dovetailing works by both composers, as may have happened at the Baron’s Viennese palace. Hull, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, has always been a vibrant and outward-looking city, connecting people across times and places. Its mercantile, intellectual and cultural heritage encourages us to look afresh at what we thought was familiar. That too has inspired our Bach/Beethoven programme, in which we offer a chance to explore these two familiar composers from a less familiar vantage-point.


DeNOTE’s “Enduring Virtuosos: Bach and Beethoven” takes place at Middleton Hall, University of Hull on 1-2 March 2017. Find out more about Hull UK City of Culture 2017.