Star-studded launch for GM Music Hub

4th December 2012 at 11:19
Richard Milton, head of Salford Music and Performing Arts Service, looks back on a busy term for the partners in the Greater Manchester Music Hub and forward to a bright future as the hub grows.

We've been launched!

The Greater Manchester Music Hub was officially launched at a star-studded event at the BBC Philharmonic Studio at MediaCityUK, Salford, on 19 November.

The event saw performances from young musicians from across the Greater Manchester region, including Bolton Youth Chamber Strings; Louis Brookes, a young Flamenco guitarist from Wigan; Salford Steel; Bolton Youth Harmonies; Trafford Jazz Collective; The Du'Montts, a band supported by Brighter Sounds; and Oldham Youth Orchestra.

There were speeches by Peter Salmon, Director BBC North; Jane Beardsworth, Regional Director, Arts Council England (North); Carolyn Baxendale, Head of Bolton Music Service; Howard Bousfield, headteacher at Norris Bank Primary School, Stockport; Martin Everitt, a parent; and John Summers, Chief Executive of The Hall Orchestra.

The array of talent on show and the buzz that the performances and speeches created showed what a great opportunity we have to build on the excellent work of the partner organisations through our hub. All the speakers praised the excellence of the young performers and the vision of the leaders of the partner music services to work together to make things even better for the talent in the region.

Holding the launch event at the new iconic home of so many BBC departments, with the creative infrastructure that goes with the relocation, emphasised how important the GM Music Hub is and the enhanced opportunities it will bring. Our new hub website,, has also gone live and will expand greatly as itdevelops.

Of course, the launch was not the start of our work. Since Carolyn Baxendale's blog in September, members of the hub have been working at a pace to deliver our vision.

The first large-scale collaborative event was the GM Music Hub Brass day that took place, again at the BBC Studios at MediaCityUK. Young brass players from all nine music services came together to create a brass ensemble of more than 250 musicians. The core of the band was made up of senior players from the array of excellent youth bands from our region. This boasted many members of the NYBBGB and the standard of their performance reflected this.

Directed for the day by renowned brass band conductor Ray Farr, the young players worked alongside the brass section of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. This included rehearsal and performance of two challenging pieces from scratch and a master class by the BBC players on a brand new composition by the orchestra's tuba player, Chris Evans. The other younger brass players were split into three bands and rehearsed with tutors from other music services and students from Salford University. The rehearsal venues included the new state-of-the-art studio at the university's School of Media, Music and Performance and the `Morecambe and Wise' room in the BBC headquarters. The three bands worked separately and then came together to perform a programme that included a commission for this event called `Blow Out' by Bill Connor.

This world premier took place at the end of the day and as the auditorium was filled by the band the audience were treated to the concert broadcasted to screens around the building. This gave the musicians the experience of a live broadcast something, of course, at which the BBC excels! A hugely successful day made possible by collaboration between all involved, before and during the day.

Other hub-wide projects have included Chetham's School of Music Delius Gospel project, involving pupils and teachers from Bolton Schools and music service, and cello masterclasses for talented musicians from across the region, again at Chetham's. Joint training has also been delivered in various ways both for school-based and music service staff.

Behind the scenes we have also been busy. Plans and budgets have been successfully submitted to ACE and the hub is working closely with Curious Minds on enabling the North WestBridge organisation to network extensively. The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, has become a partner in the hub and we welcome Lincoln Abbots from the ABRSM as the national representative on our leadership board.

As well as the hub activity, all partners have been `getting on with the day job', delivering high-quality experiences for children and young people. One of the highlights this term was the performance by students from Rochdale Music Service at the Music for Youth Schools Prom, where they joined forces with musicians from France to perform a new work by Tim Steiner.

So, we've been launched but in fact we've been afloat and going full steam ahead for a long time!

Richard Milton is the head of Salford Music and Performing Arts Service, one of the nine music services who are strategic partners in the GM Music Hub.


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