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 Graham’s more recent projects was his series of progressive piano repertoire books called Sound Sketches.
When he self-published them back in 2011-12, Graham 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 Elena Cobb via her EVC Music website. It must be hoped 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…
Ahmad Jevdet Ismail oglu Hajiyev (June 18, 1917 – January 18, 2002) was one of the major Azerbaijani composers of the Soviet period.
A student of Shostakovich, Hajiyev composed eight symphonies, three poems, the opera Veten (“Motherland”) (in collaboration with Gara Garayev), string quartets, solo piano music, choral and vocal works. He also taught at the Azerbaijan State Conservatory for more than four decades, while serving as a Rector from 1957-1969, and as Professor of Composition.
In 1997, the President of Azerbaijan bestowed upon Hajiyev the country’s highest accolade, the Azerbaijan Order of Glory, on the occasion of his 80th Jubilee, commemorating ‘60 long years of fruitful work which is highly appreciated by the nation and the State’.
To celebrate the centenary of his birth, the Muradov Family Archive has released Piano Collection book 1, with a series of concerts to be held in some of the finest concert halls around the world.
Piano Collection book 1 is brought to us via the ever-enterprising EVC Music Publications in the UK, and can be purchased from the EVC Music website here, where you can also listen to audio samples of most of the pieces (these are MIDI versions rather than performances).