Some months ago I was approached by Rose McLachlan, a gifted pianist who is currently studying at the Royal Northern College of Music. Rose wanted to discuss an idea she was developing with EVC Music founder Elena Cobb…
’22 Nocturnes for Chopin’ would be a new collection of piano miniatures written in the spirit of the great composer’s works, suitable for players at advanced level (around UK Grades 6-8), and to that end Rose and Elena would extend a “call to women composers” around the world, inviting submissions for consideration.
The eventual selection would be performed by Rose and published by EVC Music. Some half dozen pieces would be commissioned from established composers, while the rest would be previously unpublished.
Rose and Elena were keen for me to help with the selection process, and I had soon agreed to Chair the Selection Committee, which came to include the concert pianist and teacher Kathryn Page, recording artist Anna Heller, and ISM President Vick Bain.
Heather Hammond is well established as one of the best-loved educational composers in the UK today, with more than 100 publications in print (piano and woodwind) from a variety of publishers.
The last time I took a good look at Hammond’s music was in my review of her Ballads Without Words, brought to us by EVC Music.
In this review, I’m considering a contrasting series of her music from the same publisher. Grooves for Piano Dudes currently includes three volumes of which the second and third (with a special Halloween theme) have just recently been released.
The three books are all suitable for intermediate players, and between them offer 37 fresh Hammond compositions in jazz, rock, blues and boogie styles…
Having only just reviewed the Willis Music’s Halloween anthology Spooky Sounds here’s another dastardly publication, this time from EVC Music and scaring us with 19 original pieces from the excellent Donald Thomson.
I have previously praised Thomson’s Celtic Piano Music (reviewed here), and am equally enthusiastic about this collection. Let’s open it up to find out what’s lurking within…
Paul Birchall is a veteran keyboard and piano player with a career in commercial music spanning four decades of touring the world with the likes of M People, Jim Diamond, Snake Davis and Wang Chung. Now based in Manchester, he composes for TV, film, theatre, and for his own record label.
Some readers may know of Birchall’s Daily Expressions, previously published by the enterprising EVC Music. Now he’s back with a brand new publication. Blues, Boogie, Jazz & More (again from EVC Music) offers a superb mix of nine pieces in contemporary popular styles with full backing tracks, suitable for intermediate piano players…
Heather Hammond is one of the UK’s most widely respected and published educational composers, responsible for a string of popular titles that notably include the Cool Piano, Cool Clarinet, Funky Flute and Super Sax series from Kevin Mayhew. She is also much admired for her work with writing partner Karen Marshall; together they created the Get Set! Piano method series (Collins Music) and Intermediate Pianist (Faber Music).
Hammond’s most recent music, published with vision and panache by EVC Music, has further consolidated her growing international reputation, and EVC now brings us the combined Ballads Without Words, a compilation of two previous best-selling titles (suitable for upper intermediate players around UK Grades 4-5), joined by two brand new pieces…
Elena Cobb is without doubt one of the single most inspiring educators and committed visionaries that I have ever had the privilege of meeting.
A musical force of nature, she has made a global impact in music education through her Star Prize events at London’s Royal Albert Hall which attract young players from around the world, her festival and awards sponsorships, online networking (her Facebook community for Russian-speaking teachers has more than 10,000 members) and her music publishing.
Building her publishing business EVC Music from scratch, the last decade has seen Cobb supporting new music, in the process launching and expanding the careers of several excellent educational composers. It would be easy to overlook that Cobb is herself an outstanding composer.
Having recently signed to Hal Leonard as global distributors for EVC Music, her music is once again in the spotlight, and there’s never been a better time to remind readers of two excellent collections which showcase Cobb’s own, brilliant creative voice…
From time to time I review a music book here which subsequently establishes itself as a favourite with my students; such a book was the brilliant Birds: Études-Tableaux composed by Andrew Higgins, which I reviewed here.
I was therefore naturally pleased to receive Higgins’ latest collection, Seasons, which is again published by the forward-looking publisher EVC Music, whose many recent useful and eye-catching publications have made such a positive mark on the pedagogic repertoire in recent years.
Rather than lazily giving us more of the same, Seasons is quite a different proposition from Higgins’ last book, so let’s take a closer look…
A recent review that I read elsewhere suggested that Elena Cobb’s EVC Music has “cornered the market in pedagogical, developmental publications for piano”. While this is something of an overstatement, it is certainly great to see EVC at last receiving its due recognition for a published catalogue that has continued to go from strength to strength.
EVC Music is not just about pedagogy though; the company has been steadily bringing to market a growing and glowing range of performance works by contemporary composers, the latest of which is Art Preludes, a suite of five new pieces by British composer Graham Lynch.
Philip Martin has long been well-regarded as one of our finest concert pianists, recording artists, pedagogues and composers, writing music that combines the influences of the folk music he grew up with, the British classical scene he trained in, and a longstanding passion for American classical and jazz music.
Now, in what must be regarded as a landmark publication, a retrospective collection of his more jazzy solo piano pieces have been published by Elena Cobb’s EVC Music Publications Ltd.
New York Nights offers the more advanced player a veritable “greatest hits” of Martin’s more accessible pieces, and promises to be an essential purchase.
A few months ago I had the pleasure of writing a world-exclusive first review of Nikki Iles’ latest piano collection, Piano Tales for Alice, published by Elena Cobb’s EVC Music.
At the time of the review, I concluded:
“All in all, Piano Tales for Alice is an absolute delight – perhaps EVC Music’s most exciting publication and essential purchase to date. Hats off to publisher Elena Cobb, composer Nikki Iles, and all involved in bringing this exceptional publication to market.”
I receive dozens of publications for review each term, and cannot possibly cover them all in the detail I would like to, still less actually use all this music with my own students (even though I have more than 60, of all ages and abilities).
In the case of this outstanding collection, however, such was my enthusiasm that I have since used it with two of my own students, Imogen (aged 11) and Bella (12), both of whom had recently completed ABRSM Grade 1.
Both girls chose Piano Tales for Alice from a small selection of books I showed them, and both have absolutely fallen in love with Nikki’s pieces. Quite simply, it has been a joy to behold the extent to which they have each been inspired by this collection, their imaginations alight to an extent that they have risen quickly to the fresh musical challenges in each piece.
What a privilege, then, to have been invited to a very special launch event celebrating this publication, hosted by publisher Elena Cobb at Fortnum & Mason in London’s Piccadilly…
The rise and rise of EVC Music Publications as an exciting and innovative music publisher can’t have escaped the notice of any player or teacher active on social media, and like many I have watched their emergence over the last three years or so with growing interest.
I have previously praised a number of EVC Music’s publications. I am enthusiastic for Andrew Higgins’ excellent Birds: Études-Tableaux and the recent reissue of Graham Lynch’s wonderful Sound Sketches series. And I was delighted to report that the EVC Music Star Prize Event at the Royal Albert Hall last month was such a resounding success!
With the publication of Piano Tales for Alice – a brand new collection of easy pieces by acclaimed jazz performer and composer Nikki Iles – it seems to me that EVC Music has unequivocally arrived as a mature and significant force in music publishing.
Building on their activities thus far, with this publication EVC Music has hit the jackpot, bringing to market a genuine classic…
Supporting Educators • Promoting Learning Written by ANDREW EALES
We often hear of a decline in music education within UK state schools – and without doubt, over the last 25 years of teaching I have witnessed a steady but undeniable diminuendo in the musical life of local schools here, often despite best intentions.
How wonderful, then, to see buoyant evidence of enthusiasm for music among young people – as was most certainly and robustly the case when I attended the Elena Cobb Star Prize Event at the Elgar Room in London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall last week.
Here was a showcase of great playing delivered by young people from around the UK and beyond, each performing and clearly relishing music by a host of living writers, and in many cases in the very presence of those composers.
Graham Lynch is a composer whose works have been performed by (among others) the BBC Symphony Orchestra, The Hilliard Ensemble, and in venues as diverse and prestigious as London’s South Bank and the Wigmore Hall, the Paris Conservatoire and the Merkin Hall New York.
One of Lynch’s more recent projects was his series of progressive piano repertoire books called Sound Sketches.
When he self-published them back in 2011-12, Lynch explained to me:
“Sound Sketches is an exciting and innovative series of graded piano pieces that will appeal to pianists of all ages and abilities. These pieces are varied in character, and each one opens up an imaginative world of colours and textures for players to explore. These ‘sound images’ are evoked through strong melodic ideas which hide their technical challenges within a sense of the delight that can be had from conjuring music from the keyboard.”
Obtaining a set I quickly found students – both teenagers and adults – who were enchanted by the pieces.
I was therefore delighted to hear that the books are now being published and freshly promoted by EVC Music, with digital licenses available from the publisher and physical copies of the books available on the Musicroom website, and hope this will lead to these brilliant books receiving the attention they deserve.
Let me tell you why I think that these books merit a place on the already crowded shelves of piano teachers, students and players…
As a reviewer I get to discover a surprising amount of great new pedagogic music, but it’s predominantly at the beginner to intermediate level. So it is particularly exciting when something arrives that is more challenging, and yet just as appealing.
Birds: Études-Tableaux is a collection of six pieces by Andrew Higgins, published by EVC Music Publications, and subtitled modern virtuoso studies.
If you’ll pardon the pun, it perfectly fits the bill! Do read on for further twittering about these wonderful pieces …