Monday, 22 April 2013

#26 Emma Hutchinson, Composer, Musician, Music School and Music Venue Founder & Director

"I was given piano lessons because my brother didn't practice. This led to my life long love with the piano, and a fascination with playing all types of instruments. I was given a full grant to Chethams school until I was 19. I defected from music for a while, by studying dance and theatre at Dartington College of Arts. Music kept following me about including a spell of teaching in Hong Kong. With theatre performance and dancing experience also under my belt, I returned to music study, taking a piano diploma at Trinity College of Music.

Alongside piano teaching I became interested in early childhood music, developing my teaching work in nursery groups alongside my private piano teaching work. Having a motorbike was the only way I could get anywhere quickly in London, and to maximise the volume of work that was building up. This inevitably led to my dream of having a music house full of children learning different instruments, with me living at the top! The Music House for Children was founded in 1994 as a not for profit music school to provide children in homes, nursery schools with musical learning, performance and training for teachers. At this point I did not have a real building.

In 2001 together with my husband, Charlie Raworth, we purchased an old snooker club. This is now Bush Hall in West London, a beautiful Edwardian concert hall hosting international and national artists concerts, showcases and private events. Our Boston Steinway grand serves as an apt and very lovely piano for visiting artists, although my dream would be to adopt a Bosendorfer, as the acoustics are so resonant in Bush Hall.

The Music House for Children’s new home became the next-door building to the hall to give children who could not afford instrumental tuition the same opportunities as those having private home tuition. In addition I was able to provide training to early years and instrumental teachers on site, as well as music workshops, holiday activities and specialist music classes.

I have over 60 instrumental tutors, and early childhood music specialists working with me, in homes, schools and in nursery groups. We are unique as a school in that we provide early childhood music for families, newborn babies and toddlers, instrumental learning and performance opportunities each year, all under two roofs. We are in the process of creating a new restaurant called Bush Hall Dining Rooms to provide delicious food for families, artists, audiences and musicians enjoying musical experiences at Bush Hall and The Music House for Children. This will open this May (

As a baby the multi-sensory embedded musical experiences provides them with an instinctive understanding of music when they later come to learn an instrument. Every child is invited to perform at Bush Hall each year to reflect achievement, parents’ ability to see progress, and build on confidence and social engagement with other young musicians. My interest in the benefits of early musical engagement led me to taking an MA in early childhood music (at Birmingham City University), due to be completed this July.

Termly training for all our music teachers provides fresh, updated and inquisitive ways to continue with their work in music teaching. With very young children using their instruments to draw out musical responses and curiosity is compulsory! We also provide training in early childhood music teaching throughout the UK.

My enduring love of the piano has continued to provide inspiration for composing music for babies and young children (check out Little Birdsong – The books have just been taken on by an American publishing house, and due for re-launch this summer. Our insistence for high quality music provision is reflected too, in our commissioning an instrument maker. We now provide and sell early childhood instruments reflecting a range of tactile shapes, sounds, and are of high quality, and extremely durable (www.littlebirdsong/resources/treasurebasket)

I am still very much in tune with my piano playing, having recently performed at Robert Lockhart (late composer and pianist)’s memorial service, playing one of his early pieces. I also performed at Sark island to a private party. In my spare time I play the trumpet (my other favourite instrument) at celebrations and weddings.

I play a range of instruments including French Horn, Guitar, fife, whistles, violin, melodica, ukulele. These all emerge during my teaching work with babies and young children since live music is an integral and inextricable glue to a child and parent’s musical experiences. My other message in this habit of multiple instrumental playing, is to encourage others to pick up their instrument and to enjoy playing whenever they can.

The Music House for Children is currently going through major refurbishment. We are still waiting on hopeful funding and/or sponsorship to enable extension of the former ground floor studio into a more modern, ground floor space to enable more group music provision, with a particular emphasis on children with special needs.

As our twentieth anniversary approaches next January, we look forward to celebrating continuing diversity and opportunity for children and families in musical learning, not least, supporting music teachers and our musicians of the future." (Emma Hutchinson)

Connect with Emma 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

#25 Jan Pulsford, Composer, Musician, Songwriter, Keyboardist

my grandmother had a beautiful ornate walnut piano
with ivory keys she cleaned with milk
saucers of milk and rags

I remember the smell and slight stickiness
when i sat
as a child
wide eyes glued to the music 
on a very high up velvet piano stool
making up stories and tunes
about the puppy dog i found on the pages

years later I learned it was the sign for the pedal
but in my mind it will always be a puppy curled up! 

THoMPSoN TWiNS, CYNDi LauPeR, DaRLeNe LoVe, STePS, MeLaNie, 
CHiCo FReeMaN,EuRoViSioN, aTHeNa BLue, DaViD SCHNauFeR, 
aNTHoNY HeaD, DJ JuLiaN MaRSH, 3KSTaTiC, etc

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

#24 Kate Shortt, Cellist, Pianist, Composer, Singer-Songwriter

"My mother was a piano teacher. We had a beautiful black grand Bluthner in our house when we grew up. We all played on it but I was obsessed with it from the age of around four. I was teaching myself and basically it was my recluse and my best friend. I started lessons when I was around six years old, I was already playing and then when I got to Grade V Piano I had an entirely different relationship with it, apart from exams and classical music.

I was already composing on it. It didn't seem like a piano to me, it seemed like this other being that I was discovering that had all these teeth, and the teeth made sounds, and I couldn't believe that one fitted with another one to make all these chords. So it was my life. I started the cello at seven and although I primarily am a cellist, the piano helped the cello and visa versa. The piano became like an orchestra because I could play so many of the parts at the same time.

I discovered jazz chords and started playing very much by ear which is why I stopped classical piano after Grade V, I found that the reading just slowed me down. I knew I wasn't going to be a professional classical pianist but I would always use the piano. So I started memorising every single Beatles song I knew, and Elton John, Kate Bush – anything with the piano. I spent my teens at school entertaining people with it in the lunch hour. It got me friends, it didn't necessarily get me boyfriends. It certainly brought musical attention to me. I wanted to share it. I was writing many piano pieces and then I began to write songs. When I was 14 I won Birmingham BBC radio young composers competition with a piano piece called ‘Day Time Blues and Early Morning Rag’.

When I went to music college I stopped writing as I wanted to focus on the cello but I went back to it after. In my second year at music college I formally started jazz piano lessons and then I realised that the chords I'd created when I was thirteen actually had a name to them, and that other things could happen to them; you could invert them and extend them – that was quite awesome. After college I started to teach and use a lot of piano for that; I still do. In 2006 I brought out an album. ‘Something To Tell You’ It's a collection of songs that I had written over the years; I did all the arrangements for these songs for the accompanying instruments (string quartet etc) on the piano. I slightly take the piano for granted now; it's become part of my body now so I don't feel quite as obsessed as I used to feel. It's been a background and a backdrop to the rest of my musical life. I started jazz piano lessons again last year, it's been a lot of fun to rediscover this, it's more than a hobby but not particularly in my professional life as a performer – it is integrated I would say. I will try to write more songs again soon.

In 1990 I began my solo show where I perform my own songs. I started out using piano and later on the cello came in. Now I use both piano and cello in this show. I integrate singing and comedy. The piano songs are a mixture of comedy and ballads. ‘That was spectacular, totally hilarious and genius!’ (audience member) ‘Wide ranging vocals and very funny’ (The Stage) ‘Emotionally rich songs, thoughtful harmonies, heartfelt reflections on life’ (Musicians Union magazine).

Connect with Kate:

Next gigs:
Komedia - Brighton Festival 12th May
Latest Music bar – Brighton festival 31st May

Moors Bar – 17th May
Moors Bar –Crouch End Festival – 14th June

Friday, 12 April 2013

#23 Nimrod Borenstein, Composer

"I have always loved the piano and just recently wrote a new cycle for solo piano which will be premiered  by the pianist Konstantin Lifschitz in London in March 2014. The three pieces,  'Lucilla's Beehive' , 'Uchti-Tuchti' and  'The Melancholic Mobile'  are part of a cycle called 'Reminiscences of Childhood' opus 54. These pieces are a look at childhood from an adult perspective. I was first commissioned to write 'Lucilla's Beehive' as a single piece and only later decided that It would be interesting to add a couple of pieces to make a cycle. 'Reminiscences of Childhood'  being in three "movements"  is both like other short pieces cycles ( for example  Schumann's Kinderszenen) and a sonata.
I started composing when I was six years old. One of my first compositions, a piece for solo flute and orchestra, written when I was eight was inspired by a twelve year old girl who played the flute and with whom I was in love! The piece was a success but my love was not reciprocated!
I was born in Israel, raised in France and then moved to London  when I was 18  to complete postgraduate courses first at the Royal College of Music and then at the Royal Academy of Music.
Composing for the piano is a real challenge that I enjoy revisiting often. I have written solo pieces, pieces for 2 pianos four hands, 2 pianos eight hands as well as a myriad of chamber music compositions including a piano trio, pieces for piano & violin, piano & cello, piano & flute. Many cellists, violinists and flautists perform theses works worldwide.  

It is very difficult to describe a compositional style. I agree with Mendelssohn who when asked to describe his music said that if he could describe it by words he would not write music!  Performers of my music and audience have said that it was “full of passion and tragedy” , “absolutely beautiful and touched the heart”. I would say that my music is complex and multi-layered  but speaks directly as it has beautiful melodies that can be grasped immediately when you hear it.
When I am composing, what I go through changes – it depends on the day. I am looking for an absolute and if the music is not coming it can be depressing.  However even if I always enjoy the absolute concentration and sense of purity of the work but for me what is essential is the result and not the process.

One of my latest pieces,  'If you will it, it is no dream' opus 58, was written for Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Maestro Ashkenazy has been a strong supporter of my music for some time and I was extremely excited to write for him and such an amazing orchestra which  would be able to perform my music with passion.  I wanted to compose something very intense and diverse, all in ten minutes, like an odyssey. A piece that makes you feel like it was a thirty minute long, that in ten minutes gives you the illusion of having listened to an  an entire symphony. 
My music can be found with several publishers, including Boosey & Hawkes, as well as some pieces being self-published." (Nimrod Borenstein)

Connect with Nimord 

Next UK performance:
'If you will it, it is no dream' opus 58 for Orchestra  (World premiere)
The Philharmonia Orchestra
Vladimir Ashkenazy, Conductor
Venue: Royal Festival Hall, London, UK
Date: 13th of June 2013
Tickets and details can be found on the Southbank Centre website