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A most interesting international master class and a chamber music competition with good prizes

Written by Keijo Aho on .

Delta Trio Finale Orlando Concours 2015 fotograaf Ton van der Mark 8The Orlando Competition - an international chamber music competition - for ensembles from 3 to 6 musicians (piano trios and string quartets excluded) will take place from August 11 to 13, 2016 in Kerkrade, The Netherlands.

Chamber music and the development of a musician

Written by Keijo Aho on .

It is impossible to overestimate the utility of studying chamber music in the shaping of a young musician. Ensemble playing improves practice techniques, performance skills and many other skills and characteristics essential for musicians. It is much easier to explore different approaches – by trial and error if need be – in a group than if working on one’s own. And although practicing parts and making music together takes a lot of time, exactly the same issues may be encountered in chamber music as in solo repertoire. For instance, the piano parts in the piano trios of Schubert or Beethoven are scarcely any simpler or less challenging to learn than the solo piano works of the same composers.

Aspects of assessing chamber music

Written by Keijo Aho on .

One can say that chamber music coaching is very similar to teaching a solo instrument. They both involve listening to the same things: intonation, rhythm, sound production on the instrument, fingerings, bowings, and so on.

Even the very concept of chamber music is not so different from solo works or orchestral works. Considered from a broad point of view, everything is chamber music, from the solo pieces of Bach to the huge symphonies of Mahler.

But assessing a chamber music performance is very different from assessing a solo performance. One should not assess only the performance generally but also how the members of the ensemble handle their respective roles in the ensemble. This places particular demands on the person doing the assessing, as one has to understand the psychology of chamber music and the dynamics of different ensembles, and also the roles of members in a group.

Ecmta member Quartetto di Cremona is doing pioneering work for the chamber music

Written by Keijo Aho on .

Playing all Beethoven String Quartets in a concerts serie and/or making a recording from them is surely one of the main dreams of all seriously working quartets. Those works, that include all the richness of human mind, are often found as ”Quartets ofThe Quartets” or ”most profound group of pieces in Western music”. They are technically and musically most demanding and use all the possibilities of the ensemble in an amazing way.

ECMTA Cremona 3657Because of the status and importance of these works, most of the very best string quartets have realized these dreams- and very often in a marvellous way. Surely most chamber music enthusiasts know the Beethoven recordings of the greatest quartets of our time. The new ones, who will record them again, have to have especially much courage and individual perspectives to these masterworks when beginning the project.

International Youth Chamber Music Festival IN CORPORE Tallinn, Estonia

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in-corporeIn Corpore is an international music festival dedicated to ensemble playing that takes place every year in Tallinn, Estonia. The participants - young performers aged 15-20 - come mainly from countries close to Estonia: from Baltic states and Finland. From the first festival in 2008 it has grown to an international event highly appreciated among the young professionals in our region. The festival is founded and organized by Tallinn Music High School and Estonian Chamber Music Teachers Association "In Corpore".

Homepit(ch) chambermusic competition for amateurs in Augsburg, Germany, at 22.- 25.5.2014.

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Augsburg2-prev* * * Unfortunately this competition is cancelled from this Spring. It will be held later! * * *

Do you love to play music together instead of just listening to the stars of the classic world? Do you enjoy meeting other musicians and work on new pieces as an ensemble? Would you like to playfully present your skills and talk to others who enjoy the same? Then you can look forward to a unique weekend (May 22 to 25, 2014) in Augsburg.

The German Mozart Society invites non-professional chamber music ensembles to meet their enthusiastic and tolerant competition jury as well as the encourageing audience of the city of Augsburg. In this competititon the fun of making music together and meet people with the same interests will most certainly be more important to everybody than winning a prize.

This house concert competition for amateurs is promoted by the German Mozart Society and it will be organized in cooperation with European Mozart Ways and the Leopold Mozart Centre of the University of Augsburg. Home pit(ch)- competition will be a part of the 63rd German Mozart Festival, which takes place in Augsburg from May 17 to May 25, 2014.

Parallel 60 and Krasnodar Camerata – two interesting festivals in Russia

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Parallel 60 in Surgut

surgut2-previewIn October 2013, I had the opportunity to visit two extraordinary festivals in Russia. I describe them as extraordinary because of their location: the first was Parallel 60 in Surgut, Siberia; the other, immediately after the ECMTA Autumn Meeting, was Krasnodar Camerata in southern Russia.

Surgut is a fast growing city on the Ob River in western Siberia right in the middle of the largest oil fields in Russia. Most of its inhabitants earn their living from the oil industry. The city is not really very attractive, having been built in a haphazard way with no overall plan. Also, most of the individual houses, especially in the suburbs, are not what one might call beautiful. But the city as a whole has personality and is enjoyable, and the local residents seem to be happy and proud of their home city.

The Guildhall School of Music & Drama announces new chamber music appointments and the opening of the Milton Court concert hall

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GSMD kicks off a new term with the addition of its wonderful, new state of the art concert hall Milton Court. Apart from the numerous opportunities for our student groups to experience performing and rehearsing in a beautiful 650 seater concert hall, we also will have a luxury space to offer our starry array of visiting chamber performers and coaches. The coming term sees the return of our regular visiting quartets, Endellion and Belcea, along with the first visit of Ralf Gothoni as our new International Chair in Keyboard Chamber Music and the appoibtment of Carole Presland as Senior Tutor in Keyboard Chamber Music. To inaugurate the chamber credentials of Milton Court, our Head of Srtings Louise Hopkins will be joining colleagues Thomas Ades, Anthony Marwood and Matthew Hunt for a spectacular recital based around some of the key chamber compositions of Ades.

Summer workshops - 2013 in Dobele (Latvia)

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Gunta Melbārde, 28.08.2013

Dobele-2013-1-previewThe latest event that had been fostered for a long time in the framework of Foundation "We Play Music with friends" activities were the first Summer workshops - 2013 for young chamber musicians. The event took place from August 19 to 25, near Dobele, in a lovely 3-storey rural guest house "Ausātas". Surrounded by a quiet forest, on the shore of a small lake, far from the city crowds and noise... Conditions both for living and playing music were close to ideal. This summer camp was attended by 36 young chamber musicians (including the chamber orchestra Armonico) and 8 teachers: Professor Petras Kunca from Lithuania and 7 teachers from Latvia. Intensive music lessons were held the whole week. The sunny weather really made us glad. When it was too hot for the orchestra to rehearse in the hall, they continued playing music on the 2nd floor terrace, close to the nature with great views of the lovely surroundings. The orchestral group work led by violinist Dace Upatniece and cellist Reinis Melbārdis was also held both indoors and outdoors.

3rd annual Creative Educational Chamber Music Camp “Let’s Play Music Together” in Birzhai (Lithuania)

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birzhai-2013-1-previewAfter last year’s success, the town of Birzhai and the Lithuanian Musicians’ Union (LMU) agreed to join forces once again with the V. Jakubenas Music School to organize the 3rd annual Creative Education Chamber Music Camp “Muzikuokime drauge” (Let’s Play Music Together) in Birzhai. Thanks to the invitation of Professor Petras Kunca, Board member of the association, the ECMTA was also closely associated with the realization of the project. With the strong support of Mrs Irute VERZIENE, Mayor of Birzhai and in the presence of Mr Aleksandras ZELTINIS, member of the Lithuanian Parliament, the session was an even greater success than last year. Led by Professor Kunca, Audronė Žigaitytė-Nekrošienė, President of the LMU, and Rima Zuoziene, Director of the Jakubenas School, the camp has now expanded to include students and teachers from more schools in Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia: 24 student ensembles participated, from duos to a 15-member string ensemble, with a great many local students and teachers involved. In all, over 80 students participated, mostly between the ages of 8 and 20, many of them accompanied by their teachers. Repertoire included arrangements of popular pieces and children’s works as well as standard masterpieces, and every concert programme was filled with variety of instrumentation, style, age and level of participants. The spirit of the camp was clearly an excellent balance between ability, careful preparation, and inclusiveness.

7th Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition announces the 2013 competitors!

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On September 23 ten of the world's finest emerging string quartets will arrive and take the stage for the 7th Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition. The preliminary jury have now selected an international selection of accomplished musicians of the highest standard. The quartets are:

  • Auric Quartet (Australia)
  • Quartet Berlin-Tokyo (Japan/ Israel)
  • Dudok Kwartet (Netherland)
  • Girard Quartet (France)
  • Idomeneo String Quartet (UK/ Norway)
  • Jubilee Quartet (UK)
  • Novus Quartet (Korea)
  • Van Kuijk Quartet (France)
  • Quatuor Varèse (France)
  • Yul String Quartet (Korea)

The ten quartets were chosen by a preliminary jury, including Levon Chilingirian, leader of the  Chilingirian String Quartet. The selection was made based on audio recordings sent in from all over the world! Applicants from over 30 countries applied to be considered for the first round, and the overall number of applicants have been record high.

These ten quartets have an exeptional high level of musical understanding and wonderful perfoming and the competition in September 2013 will be very exiting,” says competition director Marianne Baudouin Lie.

The 4th Edition of the "Fundación MonteLeón" Chamber Music Festival will take place from 6 to 12 December in León (Spain)

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Our goal is to support and promote young Chamber Music duos and ensembles.

The Festival will welcome six different young chamber music ensembles from Spain and other countries. The closing recital will be performed by a Special Guest Ensemble, a selected chamber music formation of international renown. In last editions: KUSS QUARTETT (2010), EBÈNE QUATUOR (2011) and DORIC STRING QUARTET (2012).

The enrolment deadline is 15 September 2013! Application and conditions:

Upcoming events for the Red Note Ensemble (Scotland)

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It's been a long hot summer full of many wonderful things, and this Autumn brings, we hope, many more. To save you from total pleasure overload, we're releasing all the information about our Autumn 2013 season in bite-size chunks. Remember "Fun Size" Mars Bars? This is the programme-announcement strategy equivalent of lots and lots of them in one of those huge bumper packets ...

So, the very first Heads-Up is for the composers. If you'd like to write for our September Noisy Night (yes that's this September!), please send us your music for Trumpet, Viola and 'Cello by 5pm on Monday 23rd September and we will endeavour to perform it at the Traverse Theatre on Monday 30th September at 8pm. Usual rules apply - no piece longer than 5 minutes, you can include a "tape" part: everything sent (parts and score) in pdf format to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., please.

As ever, Noisy Nights are free, and fun, and a little bit on the fun side of the edge of reason, so please do come as an audience member to hear what everyone's written - and have a go yourself with the 10 minute composer's challenge during the interval (no previous experience of writing music necessary)!

One more quick heads-up:

Red Note is working with composition students at King's Park Secondary School on Noisy Nights Jr as part of the Glasgow UNESCO City of Music Family Fun Day at City Halls . The line-up for this is exactly the same as for the 30th September (trumpet, viola and 'cello), so if you'd like to hear what they've written for us, please do come by City Halls at 2:30pm on Saturday 28th September.

And another quick heads-up:

Reels to Ragas, our ongoing project with tabla player Kuljit Bhamra goes from strength to strength - we've even recorded a CD (on Keda records - KEDCD41) - which is getting a pre-release event at Club Inegales, 130 North Gower St, London NW1 2NB, on Tuesday 17th September at 7:30pm. If you can't make that, then Reels to Ragas is also visiting the Lammermuir Festival at the Bridge Centre, Poldrate, Haddington, East Lothian on Wednesday 18th September at 10pm, and then Westbourne Music in Glasgow on Thursday 19th September at 12:45 (lunchtime).

Meanwhile, Framed Against the Sky continues apace towards its conclusion at the opening of the sound festival throughout September ... follow progress at

And then, come October and November - many joys! (James Dillon, David Fennessy, Francois Sarhan, Torsten Lauschmann ... and more!)

Latest news from the Fidelio Trio (UK and Ireland)

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Summer festival recitals for The Fidelio Trio included Vale of Glamorgan Festival, City of London Festival at LSO St. Luke's and Walled City Music Festival in Derry on 21st July celebrating UK City of Culture 2013.

The Fidelio Trio's position as Artists-in-Residence at St. Patrick's College Drumcondra, Dublin has been hugely successful including recital broadcasts on RTE Lyric FM and continues this year with activities including a year-long series of concerts as well as the inaugural Fidelio Trio and Friends Winter Festival 1st-3rd November with invited artists, Robert Plane (clarinet) and Patricia Rozario (soprano).  Other UK appearances in 2014 include Belfast Music Society International Festival of Chamber Music (13th Feb), Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts (27th Feb) and St. John's Smith Square London (13th March).  They will be holding a strings and piano course at Benslow Music (12th-14th November) and will work with performance students at Leeds College of Music in February 2014.

The Fidelio Trio's next CD release is a portrait disc of Robert Fokkens on Metier Divine Art followed by the initial on-line release (full release in February 2014) by Naxos of 'From Vienna' - Korngold's Piano Trio Op.1 and Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht (arr. Steuermann).

For further information visit

Translation of Keijo Aho's book "The Art of Chamber Music"

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The English translation of the re-written version of Keijo Aho's book "The Art of Chamber Music" is now ready (contents of the book). The schedule of publishing the translation is still open.