The Big Friendly…..Music

It’s The Summer Reading Challenge again, and Westminster Music Library does not like being left out, but what could we do to inspire our Summer Reading Challenge participants that would embrace this years’  theme – The Big Friendly Read? We love reading, we love music, and we like to celebrate all things musical in a big and friendly way, so how about some giant size compositional creativity?

But first, like famous composers the world over, we needed some inspiration.  There can be none better than watching some clips from that great British musical institution – The BBC Promenade concerts – better known as The Proms. Taking place every summer in The Royal Albert Hall, what proved especially appealing to our would-be Mozarts was all the fun and frivolity that happens on The Last Night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5uiVoZTBN0

Big music for Big Fun

Big Friendly Music

Suitably inspired by The Sailor’s Hornpipe and Rule Britannia, our budding composers set their creative juices to work.   Lots of giant sized notes to choose from, giant sized staves to stick them on to, and a little help from our Big Friendly Music Library Team and the Big Friendly Children’s Librarian. We definitely had some musical prodigies in the making, before long some interesting and unusual melodies had started to appear; all manner of original harmonies which would doubtless impress some of our greatest composers.  But no composer can be satisfied until they’ve heard their “magnum opus” performed, these Big Friendly tunes need to be played!

A world premiere at Westminster Music Library

A world premiere at Westminster Music Library

Luckily Westminster Music Library boasts a splendid piano, and even luckier, our Music Library Team has a pianist – who (fortunately) can sight read. Giant scores at the ready for our grand finale concert, this years’ Summer Reading Challenge as presented by the next generation of Big Friendly composers!

Ruth Walters
Westminster Music Library

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IAML Roma 2016 – a Cambridge conference diary

Auditorium Parco della Musica

Auditorium Parco della Musica

Roma 2016 was my 10th IAML congress and I returned as usual full of enthusiasm. I would even dare go further and say that it felt like one of the most successful conferences since I first attended at San Sebastian in 1998, when I was the fresh and relatively young face from Antwerp Conservatoire Library.

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IAML Rome 2016

All the fun of the opening session – “big” IAML meets in Rome.

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The Force is with us

jfs logo.jpgThis has been a fantastic year for Westminster Music Library’s Choir Joint Force Singers, since 2015, they have performed at prestigious venues and events from Lords MCC to Pimlico Proms, Westminster’s Community awards to the magnificent Guards Chapel at Wellington Barracks. And it was at the Guards Chapel that our grand finale concert took place, a fitting climax to close a year of high achievement.

The aim of our year-long project was to raise awareness of Westminster’s Armed Forces by encouraging collaboration with our local community. I can honestly say our choir has achieved this; it’s brought together local people with those who serve and have served their country, people who under normal circumstances probably would not have met. It’s an honour and a privilege to help and support our armed forces and their families, and bringing them together with our Westminster community to sing, make new friends, and most importantly to have a great time, is our way of giving just a little bit back.Homeland

This was to be no ordinary concert; having performed the week before at Pimlico Proms and the previous day at Westminster City Hall for the Armed Forces Week flag raising ceremony, they were “ready to rumble”. Emotions were running high, lasting friendships have been forged and there was definitely a feeling of army team sprirt – “let’s make this one special people!”

Rory

Musical director Ruairi Glasheen

Our choir was joined by the Victory Wind Quintet, musicians who have been working together for many years within the Guards Bands. Our MD Ruairi had been busily arranging music for both choir and quintet to perform, but now rehearsals were over and it was time for the show to begin….

It will come as no surprise that with Ruairi’ s passion for folk music, the programme featured lots of his own arrangements of traditional songs: “Shenandoah”, (an American folk song), “Scarborough Fair” (featuring a terrific solo by one of our army choir members), and a rip-roaring version of “When the saints go marching in”, accompanied by the quintet. But the highlight of the evening was the closing number, which naturally – being Ruairi – had to involve some audience participation. For his arrangement of the classic Bill Withers song: “Lean on me”, we were encouraged to clap and stomp our way through the choruses while the singers gave full voice.

Ruth

A closing speech from Ruth Walters

The choir took their bows and my closing words were accompanied by cheers, rapturous applause and even the odd tear.

It’s been a brilliant year for Joint Force Singers, we are grateful to Westminster’s Armed Forces Community Covenant for supporting us and for the invaluable help we’ve received from the staff at Wellington Barracks.

But above all we are grateful to our amazing choir, who achieved so much in such a short space of time; Joint Force Singers united Westminster’s Armed Forces and our local community in ways that went beyond the music.

choir

The choir in the magnificent surroundings of the Guards’ chapel.

Ruth Walters, Westminster Music Library.

For more photos visit Westminster Music Library’s Facebook page.

 

 

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More on “Free our history”

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British Library HMNTS 643.c.56

You may recall the “Free our History” campaign back in 2015 which sought to lobby the UK government into bringing unpublished text based works back to the normal term of lifetime plus 70 years.

Unfortunately that wasn’t successful in persuading the government, which means the 2039 rule is still proving costly for libraries and institutions.

LACA (with which IAML (UK& Irl) is affiliated), supported by CILIP, has launched a survey to try to build up an evidence base to prove to the UK Government that the costs outweigh the risks. I’m sure many of our libraries hold materials that are subject to the 2039 rule, so I’d be grateful if as many of you as possible could spare a few minutes to complete this short survey (or direct it to an appropriate colleague in your organization) in order that we can quantify the impact of this anomalous duration of copyright.

http://www.cilip.org.uk/blog/how-uk-copyright-laws-are-drain-our-cultural-heritage-sector

The deadline for responses is 1 July.

Claire Kidwell
Chair, IAML (UK & Irl) Trade and Copyright Committee

For a fascinating glimpse into the issues surrounding the 2039 rule, see this blog post from the Derbyshire Record Office.

MJ

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We’ve got a choir!

Strife, spirit and soul were the themes of a spectacular performance by Westminster Music Library’s own Joint Force Singers. Think choir concerts are boring? Joint Force Singers made us think again, with their showcase of music in a wide range of styles, periods and even languages!

WellingtonThe impressive Guards’ Chapel at Wellington Barracks played  host to this exciting event, and a large crowd of music devotees and casual fans alike were entertained and impressed for almost an hour as the choir presented the fruit of ten weeks’ hard labour. Under the directorship of Ruairi Glasheen, this group of singers from all walks of life had been meeting every week since Christmas in anticipation of Saturday’s performance, and we were delighted to see that their hard work had produced such brilliant music. Ruairi, ever charismatic, amused the audience between songs with anecdotes and jokes, and shared the fascinating historical background to some of the pieces, adding even more to our appreciation of the concert.

In true Joint Force Singers’ fashion, the choir had a surprise up their sleeve, and bewildered the audience by singing the opening song out of sight, taking advantage of the Guards’ Chapel’s excellent acoustics to capture our attention. All became clear, however, as, one by one, the choir appeared on stage, the music naturally rising in dynamic and excitement as more choir members materialised as if from nowhere. A dramatic crescendo led to a thrilling finish: as impactful an opening song as one could wish for. As Ruairi later explained, the haunting tune was in fact a Brazilian folk song.

ChoirSince the choir’s formation a mere six months ago, they have sung in several concerts, and in front of many distinguished guests. As a community choir, the Joint Force Singers are committed to supporting local events and causes, as their presence at initiatives like Silver Sunday testifies, and they have hosted numerous successful workshops, sing-alongs and community events. This concert, however, was a chance for the choir to showcase some individual members’ talents, and a real highlight of the afternoon was hearing some beautiful soprano and alto solos by accomplished amateur singers. The choice of repertoire was clearly chosen with these singers in mind, and it was a pleasure to hear their talent so sensitively showcased.

As usual, Project Manager Ruth Walters from Westminster Music Library was in attendance to introduce the choir and say a few words about the Joint Force Singers project. Special thanks were given to Tim Heale, London Garrison Welfare Officer, whose partnership in this project has been so valued, and to Ruairi and Hélène for direction and accompaniment respectively! Such a team of committed individuals has been involved in the running of this project behind the scenes, and it was a wonderful opportunity to thank them for their hard work.

ThanksJoint Force Singers presented us a whirlwind tour of musical styles – from Enya to Amazing Grace, and everything in between. My personal favourite was the closing number, a rendition of Carole King’s You’ve Got a Friend, for which the audience was invited to participate in the closing riff. A stunning way to end the concert, and the choir were rewarded with an enthusiastic standing ovation by the appreciative audience.

The opportunity to mingle with the choir and enjoy a well-earned cup of tea was taken by many present, as our afternoon with the Joint Force Singers drew to a close. Six months in to the Joint Force Singers project, it is wonderful to reflect on how far the choir have come, and this Saturday’s concert was a real testimony to that. Westminster Music Library are proud to be the pioneers of this musical adventure, and we eagerly await the next six months!

Audience

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Humming in Harmony – Westminster Music Library supports Mental Health Awareness Week

MHAWThe power of music to integrate and cure . . . is quite fundamental. It is the profoundest nonchemical medication.” Oliver Sacks

Westminster Music Library’s five month programme of mindfulness workshops – Humming in Harmony – clearly demonstrates how true this statement is.   These simple workshops, designed to improve mental health and beat isolation, connecting and bringing people together through music, have received lots of very positive feedback.

Sergio Lopez Figueroa

Sergio Lopez Figueroa

Created by Sergio Lopez Figueroa – a qualified piano teacher and composer – Humming in Harmony uses the human voice and the power of vocal harmonies in new ways to relax the mind, whilst providing an opportunity to get away from our hectic digital lives.

So what happens when we hum? I asked Sergio to explain…“Music is energy, so by focusing on pitch or frequency and through conscious breathing, we feel the vibration, and over time improve concentration and focus by listening to ourselves and others simultaneously…. gradually we develop the ability to use this energy to interact with others, and to experience the benefit of tension and release in musical harmonies, and in our bodies and minds. From structured to open sessions, we can experience free expression, lead or follow as we please. We are each responsible for co-creating the best experience for the whole group, which makes Humming in Harmony different from other similar practices”.

SLF1

Humming in harmony

Sounds simple enough, no qualifications or experience necessary, just turn up and start humming, and this is the really good part –  singing and humming not only brings people together, it’s also a great way to relax, unwind, de-stress, improve listening skills and pitch recognition, and helps develop correct breathing techniques.

So with Mental Health Awareness Week fast approaching, last Saturday, Sergio – with a little help from Westminster Music Library – organised Mind the Body, a day of public health awareness activities focusing on music. Sergio demonstrated how the power of music can facilitate positive changes in emotional wellbeing, how it encourages communication, self-awareness and an awareness of others.  The day included interactive presentations by health practitioners, case studies, a film screening and Q&A session, and a creative Humming in Harmony improvisation led by Sergio on piano.

As you can see from the comments below from some of those who came along, I think it’s fair to say people got quite a lot out of the day:

A mindful hum

A mindful hum

Something I would normally never do – it’s a complete change to my usual hectic life.

Excellent workshop, made me concentrate. Therefore, think positively in the present and left cares behind.

Uplifting! Great help after feeling low.

And from Sergio himself:

Thanks for Westminster Music Library’s support in offering the time and space to start a new initiative like Humming in Harmony, and the efforts you’ve made to generate awareness. The event on Saturday was very successful. We discussed issues about health, showed some interesting videos, and had two humming sessions. Having the piano was a real bonus, the improvisation with keyboard and humming was very well received. Participants were asking when the next sessions are as they are keen to continue. 

"Uplifting"

“Uplifting”

I better check the diary….

Ruth Walters, Westminster Music Library

 

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