Compared to the large quantity of music reviewed here for intermediate and advanced players, relatively few publications for elementary players make an appearance. This is perhaps in part because so much of the music written for beginning players is swallowed whole into lucrative method book series and exam resources. But there’s also no denying that it’s particularly difficult to write standout, imaginative music at this level.
Pianodao features reviews for relatively few of the publications received, in the hope of offering the clearest, well-informed and most helpful recommendations, thus saving readers time. Nothing makes it onto the site unless I would very happily use in my own teaching studio.
How wonderful, then, to introduce a brand new collection of “20 Characterful Solos” by Victoria Proudler. Piano Grades Are Go! has just appeared from EVC Music and is that rarest of beasts: a genuinely stunning music book for elementary players. I will be adopting it with my students, and believe other teachers should consider doing so too. Let’s find out why…
It’s about time I reviewed About Time: Six Piano Preludes by the well-known British composer Mark Goddard.
Published by EVC Music back in 2018, this intriguing collection of miniatures with latin subtitles initially slipped under my radar. Following EVC’s new partnership with Hal Leonard I have been re-examining their catalogue, and have been delighted to discover About Time, which makes an excellent addition to the growing Pianodao Music Library…
Since its appearance in 2015, Donald Thomson’s A Borders Suite, which comprises five intermediate pieces stunningly presented by EVC Music, has made an impressive impact.
That first book spawned three more, each adding five more pieces celebrating the beauty of Scotland, and in 2018 the series received the accolade of being a finalist in the Best Print Resource category of the Music Education Awards.
Now EVC Music has released the ultimate collection of Thomson’s music. Bringing together all 20 pieces from those four collections and adding one more for good measure, Celtic Piano Music is a publication to celebrate and treasure. Let’s take a look…
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.
Jazz music and Christmas have a beautifully nostalgic association for many, and it’s no surprise that jazz pianist Nikki Iles’ Jazz on a Winter’s Night has been such a huge success since its 2009 publication.
Jazz on a Winter’s Night proved to be a milestone publication that spawned three outstanding sequels in Jazz in Springtime, Jazz on a Summer’s Day and Jazz in Autumn, each including a selection of seasonally themed jazz standards and originals composed by Nikki herself.
I was thrilled to recently notice that Oxford University Press have now brought out a second collection of Christmas classics arranged by Nikki in a range of jazz styles that once again pay homage to legendary jazz musicians.
In this review I will recap what makes the original book such a classic must-have for every advanced pianist before taking a closer look at its excellent new sequel…
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.
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.
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…
Pictured (from the left) – Andrew Eales, Elena Cobb, Lindsey Berwin and Heather Hammond.
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…