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Latest News

Please see our Press page for official press releases and media contacts, and scroll down for our leading News articles.

NEWSFLASH!

Monday 14 September 2020
Berkshire Maestros joins Amazon Smile. We are delighted to have joined Amazon Smile so that we can receive free donations from registered Amazon Smile shoppers. Sign up to Amazon Smile here and choose Berkshire Maestros to raise donations for us as you shop - all at no extra cost to yourself. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to us. Thank you.

Amazon Smile logo

5 August 2020
Berkshire Maestros seeks new Trustees. We are seeking to recruit new Trustees to provide support and challenge to the Chair, Chief Executive and senior management team to ensure Berkshire Maestros achieves its strategic objectives. The organisation is committed to expanding the diversity of Board members, particularly as regards gender, age, disability and ethnicity. Previous experience of being a trustee is not required. The position is unremunerated, although reasonable expenses will be paid. 
Find out more on our Jobs page.

Children outside the RAH

18 May 2020
Robina Dallmeyer Award 2020 winners. We are delighted to announce that the winners of this year's Robina Dallmeyer Award are: Conrad Spencer (Bassoon), Eva Giaever-Enger (Bassoon), Theo Powell (Tenor Horn) and Alexander McDowell (Guitar). Congratulations to all of them. They have received funding to support them with accessing high quality consultation lessons.
This year's awards were given in commemoration of Tony Bacon who recently passed away. He had presented the awards, named after his wife, for the last twenty years. We would like to send our condolences to his family.

Berkshire Maestros

New grant from The Earley Charity to support teaching in Reading schools

22 October 2020

The good news keeps on coming this week! We are delighted to be the recipient of a grant from The Earley Charity to support purchasing PPE to enable us to deliver lessons in more schools. We have received £1,905 from the charity's Covid-19 Support Fund. The money will be used to buy voice screens, cleaning products and personal protection products for use during instrumental and singing lessons.

The items will be provided to sixteen schools within The Earley Charity's "area of benefit" across the Reading and Earley area. As a result, an additional 700 children will be be able to continue their music lessons in school from January 2021.

We are incredibly grateful to The Earley Charity for their contribution to our efforts to bring music back to the children of Berkshire - thank you very much to them.

 

Earley Charity

 


Berkshire Maestros can keep the music playing thanks to Culture Recovery Grant

19 October 2020

The Culture Secretary has announced that Berkshire Maestros has been awarded £783,746 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF). This fund was established to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future. Maestros is one of 588 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. The Culture Recovery Fund grants programme is administered by Arts Council England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The grant will affirm Berkshire Maestros' stability following a major reduction in income due to the coronavirus pandemic. Dawn Wren, CEO of Berkshire Maestros, said:

“This is absolutely fantastic news for the long term sustainability of Berkshire Maestros. We have worked hard to keep students playing music throughout this pandemic. Learning to play or sing boosts children’s academic achievements and enhances soft skills such as team working and confidence. But what has been demonstrated more than ever this year is how important music is to a child’s positive sense of wellbeing. This grant will therefore ensure that we can continue to support the children of Berkshire emotionally as well as musically and academically.”

When lockdown began, the team at Maestros moved very quickly to rearrange instrumental and singing lessons. By the end of March, the majority of Maestros students had begun having lessons online via Zoom. Many of these lessons are now running face-to-face again, with strict social distancing regulations being followed. Most ensembles run through Maestros’ seven music centres have also recommenced with some taking place in person and some being online. Some students are even able to take their music grade exams this term.

Other culture recovery grants already announced for the Berkshire area include grants made to Reading Arts, The Corn Exchange in Newbury, Readipop, South Hill Park Trust, The Old Court in Windsor, Culture Mix Arts and The Jazz Cafe in Reading. We are delighted that the future of music in Berkshire is now looking so much brighter and we look forward to building stronger partnerships with these organisations in the future.

Whilst the recent months have no doubt be tricky for everyone, the staff members at Berkshire Maestros have pulled together fantastically to help students by introducing:

  • Mini Maestros classes for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers via Zoom
  • Wake Up and Sing videos for the family to start the day with a song
  • How To videos to help students, and parents/carers, learn how to tune instruments (and so much more)
  • Online resources such as instrumental/singing Practice Tips and access to online music software
  • Videos for younger children to make their own instruments at home
  • Singing Cafes videos for those with Parkinson's and dementia
  • Links to virtual concerts and activities with partner organisations
  • Help with fees for those families struggling to meet the cost of lessons and ensembles due to financial difficulties related to the coronavirus
  • Video performances from some of our county groups and ensembles

And who can forget our online Big Sing Day and Big Music Day events to open our virtual doors to anyone who wanted to find out more about singing in a choir or learning to play an instrument

The pandemic has presented significant challenges to our operations, and many of these have resulted in a reduction of income. Thanks to this grant, and others received during the pandemic, we are now confident that we really can #KeeptheMusicPlaying for music students in Berkshire.

 

Here for Culture

 

 

Here for Culture logo

 

 

Arts Council England

 

 

 


Maestros receives major grant to fund digital technology improvements

15 October 2020

A major grant of £30,000 has been awarded to Berkshire Maestros by the Foyle Foundation to enable us to reach more children and young people through new digital teaching methods. The grant will fund investment in new equipment to modernise teaching practices to children and young people across the county. The funding will enable the acquisition of technology to:

  • teach music to whole classes of children digitally
  • stream live performances by professional musicians to schools
  • run projects for children in challenging circumstances
  • run projects for children with additional needs

One example of its implementation will mean that children with physical disabilities can use apps to create and record music.

Dawn Wren, CEO of Berkshire Maestros, said "Investing in a new digital infrastructure will enable us to work with more hard-to-reach students in new and innovative ways. This funding will enable us to do more to diversify and ensure we are accessible and inclusive of all children and young people."

We would like to extend our warmest thanks to the Foyle Foundation for their support of us and our ambitions to bring music to as many children and young people in Berkshire as possible.

The new equipment is expected to have arrived and put to use before the end of this term.

 

Foyle Foundation

 

 

Classroom technology

 

 


Berkshire Young Singer of the Year 2020 winners

5 October 2020

After a delay of over six months due to coronavirus, the Berkshire Young Singer of the Year Final took place on Saturday 3 October at The Old Court in Windsor. Run in partnership with Windsor Festival, the Final was the culmination of a three-stage competition that began back in November 2019. Young singers from Berkshire sang in three categories of Classical Song, Musical Theatre/Pop Song, and Folk Song. The final was adjudicated by Martin Denny, Christopher Hann and Dawn Wren.

The overal winner, and declared Berkshire Young Singer of the Year 2020, was Serena Cambridge, who sang "Your Daddy's Son". Serena is a sixth form student at Queen Anne's School in Reading. Adjudicator Christopher Hann commented: "Serena had us captivated from the moment she started singing. Her vocal quality shone through, whilst at the same time delivering an exceptionally powerful performance full of emotion."

Other singers who were commended and highly commended were:

Classical Song: commended - Ruzgar Takmak, highly commended - Albert Soriano.

Musical Theatre/Pop Song: commended - Tirion Watkins, highly commended - Serena Cambridge.

Folk Song: commended - Robyn Croysdill, highly commended - Lucy Pither.

Many congratulations to all of them.

The Final was live streamed via YouTube. If you'd like to watch the performances, you can do so here.

We would like to extend our thanks to Windsor Festival for working in partnership with us to run the competition, and to The Old Court Windsor for staging the Final.

 

Serena Cambridge

Berkshire Young Singer of the Year 2020 Serena Cambridge

 

Windsor Festival



Congratulations Sam Wyne on national award win

21 September 2020

Congratulations to our own Sam Wyne for having won an award from Brass Bands England for his work growing music in the community. Brass Bands England supports the brass band movement to engage with their local communities, access funding and to innovate their methods to reach wider audiences. Sam was the recipient of their Social Impact Award which was announced on 19 September 2020.

Brass Band England’s awards are nominated by members of the public and the winners decided upon by their trustees. Mike Kilroy, Brass Band England’s Chairman, described Sam as “a remarkable young person who is making an outstanding impression on fledgling musicians”. He went on to describe Sam’s “passion and tenacity” when he fronted our Mini Maestros crowdfunding campaign in 2019 to bring free music classes to babies and toddlers in communities across Berkshire. He also praised Sam’s work with Wantage Silver Band with whom he does a great deal of work for outside of Maestros. Mr Kilroy concluded that “[Sam’s] influence is sure to be seen for many years into the future”.

We are delighted and very proud that Sam was been recognised in this way. Of course, we have long known of his dedication and commitment to growing a love of music in the children of Berkshire. We are so glad to see him being recognised nationally also. We are truly #ProudtobeMaestros.

 

Sam Wyne
Sam Wyne


Brass Bands England


"Welcome back" message from our CEO

9 September 2020

"Welcome back!

We are delighted to welcome all our students back to this academic year.

Whilst last year was unexpectedly challenging, we managed to keep going with lessons and ensembles taking place in our new virtual world. There are still potential challenges ahead, however we are working hard to resume face to face teaching and ensembles in a safe environment for our students.

We are busy collating information from our schools on face-to-face teaching as well as visiting all our music centres and completing comprehensive risk assessments.

You may also like to read our latest risk assessments for all of our activity - you can access these here.

Our aim is to get students back together making music safely as soon as we can."

Dawn Wren, CEO

 

Dawn Wren, CEO

Dawn Wren, Chief Executive Officer


Launch of first ever Berkshire Maestros Youth Advisory Board

24 June 2020

We are delighted to announce the formation of our inaugural Youth Advisory Board which has been set up to help shape the musical education we provide in the future. Seventeen amazing young people aged 14-18 from across the county have been appointed to the board following a rigorous selection process. They will participate in regular meetings to discuss their opinions and ideas, enabling us to hear the student voice and to take into account how our young people would like their music service to develop.

Our board members will also benefit personally and academically from their participation, developing skills such as negotiation, teamwork, communication and leadership. These skills are highly sought after by higher education establishments and employers, and should help our young leaders to be successful in their future endeavours.

The Youth Advisory Board is being co-ordinated by Maestros’ teachers Jamie Baird and George Sandford, both of whom were recruited to our teaching team via our music graduate recruitment scheme. Jamie said:

“It inspires me to see how passionate our students are about their musical education and I am looking forward to working with them all."

The board’s first meeting will take place online in early July, with an agenda including discussions around the return of face-to-face teaching at our music centres. We are looking forward to meeting our new board members and are excited to hear their views and opinions. In anticipation of the first meeting, Dawn Wren, CEO of Berkshire Maestros, said:

“It is fantastic to hear that we have so many young people who want to get more involved with Maestros. I can’t wait to hear their ideas and suggestions!”

Over the coming weeks, we hope to share profiles of some of the members of the board and details of their ambitions for it. Follow our social media to hear from them and for updates on recommendations made by the board.

 


YAB

Jamie tells us what the Youth Advisory Board is about:

Berkshire Maestros and Greenham Trust extend Music Bursary for West Berkshire

1 June 2020

Berkshire Maestros and West Berkshire-based funding organisation Greenham Trust are delighted to announce a three-year extension to the Music Bursary Fund that supports West Berkshire school children with the cost of instrumental lessons.

Sam Wyne, Business Development Manager for Berkshire Maestros, commented: “It’s fantastic that Berkshire Maestros can continue to work with Greenham Trust to help support families with the cost of instrumental and voice lessons. Music lessons should be an activity that every family can afford so it is vital that bursaries such as this are in place to make what we do as inclusive as possible.

Chris Boulton, CEO for Greenham Trust, added: “Following the success of the Music Bursary, delivered in partnership though Berkshire Maestros in West Berkshire schools, Greenham Trust are delighted to be funding the initiative for a further three years aiming to ensure that children who need financial support can still have access to music tuition and musical instruments.”

Maestros began working in partnership with Greenham Trust to provide this bursary in 2015. Since then, hundreds of local school children have benefited from the termly subsidy, enabling musical talent in the area to be supported and nurtured.

One recipient of the bursary is Newbury-based cellist Cole Bowers (Year 8). His mother said: “The Greenham Trust Bursary enabled us to extend Cole’s cello lessons and his playing and confidence has gone from strength to strength. That once very shy boy is now part of several chamber groups and orchestras, plays annual solo concerts (raising over £2,500 for charity) and performed a solo as part of Newbury Spring Festival 2019. Music really has been life changing for Cole!”

From September 2020 the bursary will be increased to £60 per term. The scheme is open to 250 West Berkshire primary school children per academic year whose household income is below a set threshold, and not already receiving Pupil Premium. Full information on how to apply for the bursary will be available on Berkshire Maestros website before the end of the summer term.

Greenham Trust

Music Bursary Fund

Cole Bowers
Cole Bowers


Former Maestros' student wins category final of BBC Young Musician of the Year

11 May 2020

One of our former students Ewan Millar has won the Woodwind Final of the prestigious BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. He will now progress to the semi-final with the other category winners to compete for a place in the Grand Final later this year.

Ewan, from Reading, began playing the oboe aged eight under the brilliant tutelage of Nicky Fairbairn at Berkshire Maestros; she was his teacher for over ten years until he left for university. It was with her support and guiance that he passed his Grade 8 exam with Distinction aged just ten years old and has since achieved two Diplomas (also with Distinction).

He attended St Paul's RC Primary School in Tilehurst and then Reading School. He is now studying Music at Oxford University. He has won numerous prizes in local and national competitions, including concerto competitions with Reading Symphony Orchestra and Windsor & Maidenhead Symphony Orchestra.

A Maestros' student for many years, Ewan sang in Berkshire County Youth Choirs and played with ensembles at Reading Music Centre. He was a regular member of Berkshire Youth Symphony Orchestra; playing with them provided him with a rare opportunity to perform a solo at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Dawn Wren, CEO of Berkshire Maestros, said:
We are immensely proud of Ewan for having won the Woodwind Final of this leading national competition. Through playing in ensembles at Reading Music Centre and our county orchestra and choir, we have supported his musical progression as
we do for all students and we are delighted that he has achieved this recognition. Best of luck Ewan for the semi-final!

Competing with Ewan in the Woodwind Final was another former Berkshire Maestros’ student Alice Gore, who plays the bassoon. She first took up the instrument through the government-funded First Access project in her primary school and for several years was a student of Maestros’ Head of Woodwind Catherine Millar (mother to Ewan no less!).

Dawn continued:
For there to be two former Maestros’ students competing at such a high level is wonderful. We are so pleased to see how Alice has succeeded with the bassoon. She is a testament to the potential that students have when introduced to musical instruments at an early age and how far students can progress from those first early shoots of musical education.

Maestros’ involvement with the Woodwind Final went even further – Ewan Millar’s double bass accompanist was one of our’ teachers Sean Law.

The BBC Young Musician of the Year competition has run every two years since 1978 and has long history of launching the careers of many exceptional British classical musicians. Amongst a host of others are cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason (who performed at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex) who won the competition in 2016, and violinist Nicola Benedetti who won in 2004. Success in this competition is a marker of extraordinary talent and great potential for the future.

The semi-final and Grand Final will take place later this year once social distancing restrictions have been lifted. The category finals are being broadcast on Sunday evenings on BBC4, and afterwards are available on BBC iPlayer. Click to watch either the broadcasted highlights programme or the full concert programme.

 

 

Ewan Millar
Ewan Millar

 

 

Ewan Millar
Ewan with his category winner's trophy


New Hardship Fund will Keep the Music Playing

22 April 2020

Berkshire Maestros has launched an appeal for funding for a new hardship fund to support families who are experiencing financial difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This fund aims to support them financially to continue their children’s music lessons during the current crisis. The fund has received a fantastic start thanks to a £5,000 grant from local funding organisation Berkshire Community Foundation.

With schools and music centres closed, we have rapidly adapted our teaching methods to continue to provide individual instrument and singing lessons online (and we were one of the first music services in the country to achieve this). However, in the present climate some families may struggle to meet the costs of lessons so the new fund will be vital to ensure continuity and improved well-being for their children.

Our CEO Dawn Wren said: “I am delighted to have received funding from the BCF at such a difficult time for our families. Our hope is that we can support families to continue activities for their children but also to help our students with their own well-being by bringing some much-needed continuity into their lives. We want to keep the music going and thankfully, BCF has given us the opportunity to enable more people to do just that.”

Anyone feeling that they will need financial support for lessons in their current circumstances can request it. And we aren’t just offering online lessons to existing students – new students (both children and adults) are welcome to sign up for online lessons on a wide range of instruments.

Anyone wanting to register for online lessons for the first time can find out more here. We also welcomes donations from any individuals or organisations who would like to contribute to the hardship fund. If you would like to make a donation, please go to our donation page or contact fundraising@berkshiremaestros.org.uk - thank you.

 

 

Hardship fund

 

 

Online Lessons


Berkshire Young Musician 2020 Winners

2 April 2020

In these incredible times, it seems impossible to believe that the Final of Berkshire Young Musician of the Year 2020 was less than three weeks ago. There has been a lot for everyone to deal with since then and we've all been very busy adapting to new ways of working.

It may be behind the times, butwe are delighted to announce the winners from the Final.

Overall Berkshire Young Musician of the Year 2020
Joshua Hyunmin Kim (clarinet - Intermediate Category)

Junior Category
Percussion winner - Taylor Ellis Sewell.
Brass winner - Maya Otieno
Woodwind winner - Louis De Chazal

Intermediate Category
Percussion winner - Alexander Miranda Zezula       
Brass winner - Jake Pawson       
Woodwind winner - Joshua Hyunmin Kim 

Senior Category
Percussion winner - Arjan Channa         
Brass winner - Franky Tyler
Woodwind winner - Conrad Spencer     

Congratulations to all of the winners.

To catch up with photos from the Final, have a look at Berkshire Maestros County and Academy Facebook page here.

 

 

 

 

 


Teaching award win for Maestros’ Head of Woodwind

5 March 2020

Congratulations to our Head of Woodwind Catherine Millar who was named a joint award winner of the Francesca Henley Inspiration Award at last night’s Music and Drama Education Expo Awards. Catherine was nominated for this award by her colleagues for her dedicated work teaching woodwind instruments to students in Berkshire.

The Music and Drama Education Expo Awards recognise quality and innovation in performing arts education. The expo attracts key people from education and performing arts to their annual two-day event in London. The highlight of the two days is their prestigious awards ceremony which was hosted by Alan Titchmarsh.

The Francesca Henley Inspiration Award was given to Catherine (known to us as Cath) jointly with Ruth Montgomery from Audiovisibility – a charity which supports deaf musicians and artists.

In making the award to Catherine, the panel stated that they selected her because she “represented the plurality of music education – both doing excellent work in different contexts and representing different areas of endeavor”.

Catherine was overwhelmed to be given the Award. She said:
“I am grateful to my students, parents and colleagues who nominated me for the award. All awards are a team effort and we have a great team here at Berkshire Maestros.”

Catherine was nominated for the award by colleagues Hilary Smethurst-Evans and Naomi Hinton. Hilary said:
“She is a truly inspirational woman - she is an amazing teacher, mentor and friend. She works tirelessly for her pupils and inspires the colleagues she works with along with teachers from other departments. We believed that she would be a perfect recipient of this award and are so proud of her achievement.”

Teaching the bassoon is Catherine’s life-long passion and it’s her hobby as well as her career. She wants to pass on her infectious enthusiasm about the instrument to as many people as possible and has a large group of alumni who are still playing and enjoying everything about the bassoon and music.

Congratulations Cath! We are truly #ProudtobeMaestros.

 

 

MDE award

 

 

bassoon lesson


Berkshire Maestros joins forces with Whole Step CIC to provide increased opportunities for music therapy across Berkshire

14 November 2019

Berkshire Maestros, the lead organisation of the Berkshire Music Hub, announces a partnership with Whole Step CIC, leading providers of therapeutic music provision in Berkshire, to actively promote and develop new opportunities to provide music therapy as a tool for emotional wellbeing and sensory exploration. The service is on offer for all children and adults in the area.

As well as Berkshire Maestros acting as a referral service to Whole Step CIC, they will also be letting out space in their headquarters in Reading to support daytime music therapy sessions for adults in the local community. This partnership will raise the profile of music therapy in Berkshire and in turn, many more people will have access to this form of creative therapy.

Rima Jakubauskas (Lead Therapist at Whole Step CIC)
We are looking forward to this new partnership. Berkshire Maestros is a leading music education provider in the county, and they share our belief that music can develop confidence, self-esteem, and enables children and young people to achieve their potential. Our music therapy and community music services will enable more local people to benefit from making music.

Sam Wyne (Business Development and Engagement Manager at Berkshire Maestros)
I am delighted that Berkshire Maestros is entering into this partnership with Whole Step CIC. We have wanted to be able to offer music therapy to the county for some time but it’s a particularly niche provision. It takes many years of training to become a music therapist and we are very pleased that we can now refer enquires of this nature to Rima and our friends at Whole Step CIC. Music should be accessible to all young people and adults and we believe that music has the capability to change lives.

 

 

Whole Step

 

 

Whole Step Family


Arts Council England announces further Music Hub funding for 2020-21

6 November 2019

As lead organisation of the Berkshire Music Hub, Berkshire Maestros is delighted that Arts Council England has secured a further year of Music Hub funding for 2020-21.

The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that England’s music education hubs will receive funding for the 2020-21 financial year, putting an end to speculation that the government may not renew the annual funding that hubs have received since their formation in September 2012. In addition, the DfE has allocated an additional £265,000 to supplement the current financial year’s funding.

The announcement means that for the current year, the previously agreed hub funding settlement of £75,840,000 will rise to £76,105,000 once the £265,000 has been added. For 2020-21, a funding settlement of £76,960,000 will be allocated – but this will be supplemented by approximately £2m (a figure that will be clarified at a later date) to cover increased employers’ pension contributions. This puts hub funding for 2020-21 at somewhere approaching £79m. As usual, the amount received by each hub will be calculated by Arts Council England based on pupil numbers.

Music Hub funding is of vital importance to the service that we at Berkshire Maestros provide through schools, music centres and events where we work in partnership with other organisations (such as the Junior Music Festivals).

Berkshire Maestros CEO Dawn Wren said: "I am delighted with today’s funding announcement meaning that we can continue to ensure children and young people in Berkshire can access outstanding music provision!"

Steve Christmas, Director of Hub Development at Berkshire Maestros, said "The confirmation of the continuation of this funding into the next academic year is of excellent news for the young musicians of Berkshire."

 

Berkshire Music Hub


News Archive

Berkshire Young Musician of the Year and Young Singer of the Year 2020 Competition Announced – 31 July 2019

New CEO for Maestros – 18 July 2019

Berkshire Young Musician of the Year 2019 Winners Announced – 20 March 2019

Funding leads the way to musical success for young people across Berkshire – 25 February 2019

Semi-Finals of the Berkshire Young Musician of the Year 2019 Strings Competition – 21 January 2019

More than 1800 Berkshire children to perform at Royal Albert Hall spectacular – 30 October 2018

Local Youth Choir in the Spotlight at Royal Albert Hall for the premiere of The Great War Symphony – 11 October 2018

Berkshire Maestros student achieves national success – 26 September 2018

Berkshire Maestros to Relocate its Caversham Music Centre to Queen Anne's School18 June 2018

Berkshire Maestros to Relocate its Bracknell Music Centre to Ranelagh School – 16 April 2018

Berkshire County Youth Choirs Perform at 'The Proms' – 23 July 2017

Arts Council praise for the Berkshire Music Education Hub – 19 December 2016

Berkshire county young music ensembles outstanding tour to China – 4 August 2016


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