During May, Aldeburgh Young Musicians collaborated with Ensemble Hesperi, a group of early music specialists. The project aimed to delve into a wide range of topics spanning different historical periods, with particular emphasis on instrumentation, notation, ornamentation, and improvisation. As part of the project, the AYMs had the opportunity to visit the Early Music Shop where string players were granted the privilege of using baroque bows to enhance their understanding of historically informed playing.
Exploring early music has been such an eye-opening experience, as so many mysteries and stigmas that I had been told in the past were washed away. I now realise Baroque music is much freer and much more fun than I thought.
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In July, the AYMs enjoyed an electric Carnival experience with Hannabiell Saunders and her band, The Midnight Blues. During this project, the AYM’s focused on embodying musicianship through a discovery of marching band techniques involving complex body percussion patterns and learning to move as one. The artistic focus on communication and collectiveness created a deeper sense of community within the cohort and resulted in a sensational Open Session. A selection of the AYMs then got the opportunity to perform the music they learnt during this project at Aldeburgh Carnival, alongside Hannabiell and Britten Pears Arts' community singing group, Group A.
During the Carnival project, 17 of the AYMs joined in with the 8-11 Music Makers session, inspiring the children via improvisation, musical play and performing a Carnival song to them. The AYMs watched The Jess Gillam Ensemble rehearsing and embraced the opportunity to engage in an enthusiastic Q&A with Jess and the band about their careers and the life of a professional musician.
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In August, the AYMs learnt the discipline involved in being Session Musicians, spending a week re-imagining popular songs. They learnt the necessity to be highly adaptable, flexible, and collaborative alongside the essential discipline, patience and focus required in a session setting. The Open Session was a highly professional and polished performance, in the style of Later with Jools Holland.
During the Session Music project, the AYMs were given the amazing opportunity to gain professional experience playing Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture side-by-side with members of Southbank Sinfonia. AYM young artists diligently prepared their parts, blending seamlessly into the orchestra. They attended the evening concert and found it a highly inspiring experience and gave the orchestral musicians future aspirations.
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We said goodbye to 19 of the AYM cohort, wishing them well as they head off to university, music college or to continue their studies at a specialist music school. The leavers were given the opportunity to perform in the Concert Hall and they fully embraced the opportunity to showcase their talents and musical connections via two impressive, eclectic performances. Both concerts were equally thrilling and emotional, giving a glimpse of how their bright musical futures may look, beyond AYM.
Below are some of the parting comments from AYM graduates:
I would never have had the confidence to go into the professional music world without AYM, it's been the best possible thing for my musical development.
My experience of being an AYM has been truly inspirational and eye-opening.
I cannot recommend AYM highly enough — I could not be where I am now without it.
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