Peter Donohoe is acclaimed as one of the foremost pianists of our time, for his musicianship, stylistic versatility and commanding technique, and we are delighted to have him as Patron of Churchill Music. He writes:
It is now the fourth year as patron of Churchill Music, and it continues to grow, to change and to respond to the challenges of the modern music world in the U.K. The organisation’s role – within the local community, and as an example to other organisations nationwide – is two-fold:
Firstly, that of providing the local community with a series of varied, attractive concerts of a very high level and standard.
Last season (2018-2019) was a great concert season. The series was enterprising, original and attractive (the three don’t always go together…).
You can see a short video of Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason on the Churchill website, giving an insight into the remarkable music-orientated family life they enjoy, and from which stems their musical integrity and success. They gave an outstanding concert during the past season, as did the London Bridge Piano Quartet. Non-classical music performances – the story of Gilbert and Sullivan as seen through the eyes of George Grossmith, the actor who created the comic roles in those famous operas, as well as a jazz concert given by Cate Cody and her Jazz Cats. To return to the classical repertoire for a moment, this season was particularly rewarding for me for selfish reasons, as I managed to persuade the committee to accept the very daring idea of a project devoted to the Sonatas of Mozart. This involved four complete recitals by myself, given in the form of two a day on two Saturdays in March and May this year. To comment on the level of this – my own -series would be inappropriate, except to say how revealing the whole experience was to me, and hopefully to the audience; the complete piano sonatas by possibly the greatest composer of them all is as demanding as it gets for all of us, and I was very grateful and gratified by the opportunity Churchill Music provided me.
Secondly – in some ways more importantly – Churchill Music leads the way in re-establishing awareness of the importance of music in education, and this forms the main reason for me to be more involved in more ways than just as a performer. The obvious degree to which music can assist with the assimilation of literally all other subjects – because of the way it enhances brain activity, builds team-spirit, increases self-confidence and enhances physical coordination – has been ignored by the educational establishment for far too long; we need to be very thankful that there are oases of wider awareness – of which Churchill Music is one of the most impressive I know – that are slowly but successfully changing the tide.
The extraordinary Power of Music project is moving to Primary School children in years 5 and 6 in two local schools. One hopes that this example will be followed elsewhere and will arrest the attention of hitherto resistant politicians and funding organisations. The same thing applies to each of the other projects pioneered by Churchill Music. E.G. the violin taster courses that continue in 4 primary schools, clarinet taster course that has been opened at Churchill Primary School, and a Joint composition project involving a composer chosen by Churchill Music, and the Asana String Quartet (four members of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra). Finally, the involvement of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire of Music – of which I have the honour of being Vice-President – led to a concert of new music to an audience of hundreds of primary schoolchildren were exposed to music for the first time, and were really and truly – and audibly – enthused.
The people of Churchill and the surrounding areas are rightly and increasingly proud of what they have in this beautiful part of England. I am very proud and honoured to be associated with this progressive organisation.
Firstly, and in some ways most importantly, it leads the way in re-establishing awareness of the importance of music in education. The degree to which music can assist with the assimilation of literally all other subjects because of the way it enhances brain activity, has been ignored by the educational establishment for far too long; we need to be very thankful that there are oases of wider awareness – of which Churchill Music is one of the most impressive I know – that are slowly but successfully changing the tide.
The latest Churchill Music project in this direction is the ‘Power of Music’, piloted in conjunction with University of the West of England, to be launched in local schools this autumn. It aims to demonstrate how music can affect the way we feel, how it influences us already, how it could be used to help manage difficult feelings within a school setting and change or encourage a different mood.
As a counterpart to this, Churchill Music is heavily involved with promoting educational workshops in schools throughout the area, and no one could be more indebted to music workshops in schools than those who go on to become leading lights professionally – whether their careers lie in music or not.
Secondly, Churchill Music provides a platform for major young talent. As a great example of this, during the coming season cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason – voted BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2016 – will perform for Churchill Music with his pianist sister, Isata – also a finalist in the keyboard section of the 2014 competition.
This coming season includes a special project of my own – four concerts devoted to the seminal and extraordinarily diverse and continuously and joyfully inventive complete piano sonatas of Mozart. This is an area of repertoire that influenced, and possibly even formed the history of classical music ever since it was written, and the opportunity to hear them all together is not to be missed – that opportunity is almost as rewarding as the opportunity for me to present this incredible music to you!
The concerts are held in an excellent venue, and given by a choice of artists that is on the highest level, and are supported by an increasingly committed audience. Please be part of that wonderful surge of interest in great music.
The people of Churchill and the surrounding areas are rightly and increasingly proud of what they have in this beautiful part of England. I am very proud and honoured to be associated with this progressive organisation.”