Written by: Duncan Hadfield
Ever since its formation in 1983 the Schubert Ensemble has been involved in educational work. That impulse stepped up a gear two years ago with the instigation of the Chamber Music 2000 project, the commissioning of a substantial collection of new chamber works suitable for schoolchildren and adults of all levels of technical ability.
At the official launch of Chamber Music 2000 at a press event at London’s Steinway Hall on Tuesday 13 February, patron Sir Colin Davis spoke of his delight that the process of music-making hand-in-hand with new works is being actively generated in schools, and directed towards young participants. “It’s a vibrant and stimulating process,” Sir Colin said, “especially refreshing in a climate of sterile touch-button technology.”
To coincide with Chamber Music 2000 the Schubert Ensemble has released a CD on the NMC label – a white room – which contains no fewer than 20 works from composers as diverse as Judith Weir, Howard Skempton, Philip Cashian, Gerald Barry, John Woolrich, David and Colin Matthews, Sally Beamish and Piers Hellawell, whose composition gives the album its title. It was a piano quartet from Camden School for Girls who expertly played Hellawell’s brief but pithy opus at the launch event.
The Schubert Ensemble has a packed and hectic schedule of educational work in its diary, visiting schools and colleges throughout Britain. It finds time to give a Wigmore Hall recital on 23 March of Schumann, Martin Butler and Elgar, which will be prefaced at 6pm with the Schubert’s offering a (free) Chamber Music 2000 Showcase Concert – airing some more of these exciting commissions.