How to join virtual orchestras, choirs and music masterclasses online

An up-to-date round-up of the music and performance masterclasses, workshops, choirs and ensembles you can take part in online during the coronavirus pandemic

Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir

Choirs

Gareth’s ‘Home Malone’ Choir Series

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Choirmaster Gareth Malone invites singers to join his national choir. You can watch previous rehearsals on Decca Records’s YouTube page here.

The Self-Isolation Choir

With a finale concert on 31 May, the Self-Isolation choir is open to all singers from across the world. There will be hourlong online weekly rehearsals for each part. Those who join after the start date (31 March) can catch up on previous rehearsals online. For more info, please visit theselfisolationchoir.com.

NHS Chorus-19

In collaboration with Cambridge doctors, organist and conductor Anna Lapwood is coordinating a virtual choir for current and former NHS staff across the UK. The first project is an arrangement of ‘Come on Eileen’, and the music video will be released at the end of April and will be aiming to raise money for the NHS. 320 NHS workers have already signed up for the choir. Sign up here.

The Sixteen and the Stay at Home Choir

Sing James MacMillan’s O Radiant Dawn as part of the Stay at Home Choir’s virtual choir. Participants are invited to also attend a webinar with a singer from The Sixteen who will help coach them on their part.

Record yourself and submit your videos by midnight on Wednesday 29 April.

Orchestras

Jess Gillam Virtual Scratch Orchestra

To participate in a virtual performance of Bowie’s Where Are We Now?, visit Jess Gillam’s website to download the parts and video yourself playing your part or playing along to the click track (using headphones, so only you can be heard). Send the video to info@jessgillamsax.co.uk with a line saying ‘I give Universal Music Group permission to use this video’. The deadline is Friday 10 April at 6pm.

National Youth Orchestra

At 5pm on 17 April, the 164 musicians from the National Youth Orchestra will open their windows and perform Beethoven‘s ‘Ode to Joy’ in support of NHS staff and key workers across the UK. They are inviting all other musicians to join in. The sheet music can be downloaded here.

Mustafa Khetty

Composer Mustafa Khetty has invited musicians from across the world to participate in his new works. He will provide separated audio clips and scores for each part. Get in touch here to request materials.

Lockdown Rehearsal Orchestra

The temporary orchestra for adults – between grades 2 and 5 – is now open for string, woodwind, brass and percussion players. Rehearsals take place online every Thursday morning at 10am. For more information, contact Wendy Waldock at 07508 471 800 or fill in the contact form here.

Conductor Karina Canellakis leads Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Karina Canellakis leads an abridged version of Vaughan Williams‘s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis for musicians above grade 6, with accompanying arranged parts for musicians playing between grade 3 and 5 level.

A base track has been created for players to rehearse to, recorded by Benedetti Foundation tutors: violinists Elena Urioste and Andrea Gajic, violist Jenny Lewisohn, cellists Su-a Lee and Laura van der Heijden, and double bassist Alice Kent. Watch the recording here.

Watch Karina Canellakis’s recording with the players here, in which she suggests different interpretations.

The grand finale concert of the Virtual Benedetti Sessions will take place on Sunday 31 May at 4pm BST on the Benedetti Foundation’s YouTube channel.

Join the National Youth Orchestra’s socially distanced performance of Holst’s The Planets

Following on from the #NYOdeToJoy project, in which the orchestra invited people from across the UK to pick up their instrument and play Ode to Joy together but apart. Over 40,000 people took part.

At 5pm on 29 May, the National Youth Orchestra has invited the UK to take part in another playalong performance of ‘Jupiter’ from Holst’s The Planets.

Scores are available to download here. There is also a five-part arrangement for musicians who are able to perform with others in lockdown.

Red Note Ensemble: John Cage’s 4’33”

The Scottish contemporary music ensemble is inviting online audiences to recreate John Cage’s 4’33” at 3pm.

Musicians from the ensemble will perform alongside members of the public via Zoom. The performance will be streamed live on Red Note’s YouTube channel.

To take part, contact admin@rednoteensemble.com by Friday 26 June at 12pm BST, stating your name, location and instrument.

Donations can be made to Help Musicians UK.

Music Lessons/Courses

Chamber music weekend with Nicola Benedetti and the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective

On the weekend of the 26 and 27 September, participants will receive three hours tuition today from Nicola Benedetti and the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective, who is made up of violinist Elena Urioste and Savitri Grier, pianist Tom Poster, violist Rosalind Ventris, cellist Laura van der Heijden and double bassist Joseph Conyers.

The weekend will combine sectional rehearsals with discussions and talks, and will be all run online.

Sign up here.

Mischa Maisky at the Rīga Jūrmala Festival Academy

At 3pm on 8 July, cellist Mischa Maisky will give an online masterclass, moderated by composer and journalist Edgar Raginskis. The participants will be cellists from the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music.

The Benedetti Foundation: Virtual Mini Sessions

Following its Virtual Sessions in May, the Benedetti Foundation is launching the Virtual Mini Sessions, a series of short, focused workshops, throughout July and August.

There will be separate workshops for music students, recent graduates, teachers and adult learners, all delivered by leading musicians including Nicola Benedetti, Elena Urioste and Laura van der Heijden. Although there is an admin fee to participate, there are bursaries available for those who are struggling financially.

For school-age string players, there will be classes and workshops on vibrato, shifting and beginner basics. Adult learners and teachers can learn about embedding healthy practice routines, performance anxiety, building a portfolio career and interpretation. Details of all classes can be found here.

The Pianist Platform

Every evening at 8pm, pianist Yulia Chaplina and Coach House Pianos are hosting interviews with the UK’s top pianists and piano teachers as part of its Piano Bootcamp. Guests featured include heads of keyboard at top UK schools and conservatoires.

The complete programme can be found here.

Virtual Benedetti Sessions

From Monday 11 May, the Benedetti Foundation will provide three weeks of free, regular online music tuition for young musicians, university-level students, teachers, adult learners and amateur musicians.

The sessions will be hosted on YouTube, Zoom and social media platforms and will be led by violinist Nicola Benedetti and tutors from the Foundation. There will be a mix of live and pre-recorded turorials.

The programme will include seminars, activities, presentations and workshops in physical and mental wellbeing. There will also be two live sessions from instrumental teachers each week, a live session for conservatoire and university msuic students with leading artists and two weekly sessions for parents to chat to tutors about how to best help and support their children’s musical education at home.

The final weekend (30-31 May) will run from 10am to 5pm with presentations and tutorials throughout the day.

Sign up here. Registration is free and will be open until Thursday 7 May.

Music lessons from Nicola Benedetti

Every day at 12pm BST, The Benedetti Foundation hosts a lesson or workshop on its Instagram via IGTV and its Facebook page. It will be then be available to watch on Facebook afterwards. Sessions so far include violinist Elena Urioste discussing yoga, meditation and the role of wellbeing in performance; games and songs with cellist David Munn; and a live samba session from percussionist Patrick King.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, Nicola Benedetti will go live across all her social media channels to discuss music and share insights.

Lockdown Insanity Prevention: Flute Tutorials

Emily Beynon, principal flute of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, is hosting a series of tutorials on her YouTube channel. The first tutorial is now live, focusing on vibrato technique.

Flautist Sharon Bezaly

Sharon Bezaly is hosting regular virtual masterclasses, which you can apply to take part in via her Facebook page. Passive listeners are also able to join via Zoom link.

Bristol Plays Music Virtual Academy 

The Bristol Music Trust has created a programme of one-on-one music lessons for students. Teachers will run 20-minute sessions for primary school children and half-hour sessions for those in secondary school.

There will be a charge for lessons, but children of key workers or those suffering financially because of the pandemic will be able to apply for free bursary places. Otherwise, tuition is available in blocks of ten lessons, with prices from £100.

Lessonface

Lessonface is a digital platform that connects music teachers with students of all ages.

The platform’s ‘Go Classes’ are interactive group courses with flexible tuition (free spaces are available). Teachers and students are also invited to take part in an Open Mic Night to share the music they’ve been practising. The sessions will be hosted by a Lessonface teacher. You can apply to the next Open Mic Night here.

Learn to play Elgar’s Salut d’amour with Nicola Benedetti

Nicola Benedetti is hosting daily tutorials at 10am BST from 10-19 April on her YouTube channel to teach audiences how to play Elgar’s Salut d’Amour. Participants are then invited to email their performances to info@benedettifoundation.org or upload on social media using the hashtag #salutnicky by 5pm on Thursday 16 April. A winner will then be picked from those who have entered, followed by a live Q&A with Benedetti.

Click here for more information, downloadable sheet music, videos of Benedetti performing the piece and Petr Limonov performing the piano part for you to play along with, and full details on how to submit your performance.

This series is in conjunction with the release of Nicola Benedetti and Petr Limonov’s performance of Salut d’Amour, which will be released digitally as a single and on Benedetti’s upcoming album, which also features Elgar’s Violin Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski.

Learn to play Elgar’s Chanson de Nuit with Nicola Benedetti

Following on from the Salut d’Amour challenge (you can listen to the winner here), Nicola Benedetti is now inviting musicians to create a music video inspired by Elgar’s Chanson de Nuit. Listen to the piece here. Send your submissions to info@benedettifoundation.org or tag your videos on social media with #chansonchallenge by Sunday 3 May.

The Exhale Project

27 April-10 May

Originally planned to be a musicians’ retreat in Switzerland, violinist Gwendolyn Masin’s Exhale Project will now be hosted online. Created for professional musicians and students alike, the course will include a series of masterclasses in yoga, Alexander Technique, psychotherapy and Feldenkrais. A portion of the participation donation will be donated to charity.

The Illustrated Theory of Music

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment has launched a series of short, informal videos to help students learn Grade Five theory, GCSE and A Level Music. It breaks down the questions we think we should know: what does a ‘quaver’ really mean? Why do we use bars?

The videos are hosted by musicians from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. You can watch the videos here.

The Conservatoire in Blackheath

London’s Blackheath Conservatoire is moving all its classes online, with interactive Zoom classes and YouTube ‘boxsets’, which include classes on ukelele for five-year-olds, watercolours and drama for adults.

The classes are intended for parents who are both home-schooling and looking for a creative outlet. There are also many classes available for young children.

There are bursaries available. Every day on social media, a ‘Course of the Day’ offer will be posted on Facebook, free taster lessons for young children on Facebook and YouTube during half term and course discounts for newsletter subscribers.

Taster sessions can be found here.

Piano masterclasses with Leif Ove Andsnes

At 5pm EET on 18 June 2020, Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes will lead an online masterclass with the Riga Jurmala Academy, free to watch online here.

The Riga Jurmala Academy has been holding weekly masterclasses, including lessons with principal musicians from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, all of which are available to watch here.

Masterclass with baritone Benjamin Appl

Samling Institute for Young Artists has hosted a masterclass with two of its alumni: baritone Benjamin Appl and pianist James Baillieu. The pair held a remote masterclass with 17-year-old Ben Ryan from Darlington, who sang ‘The Foggy, Foggy Dew’. You can watch the masterclass here.

London Philharmonic Orchestra: The Studio

The London Philharmonic Orchestra has launched The Studio, an online resource space for young composers. It is a series of video classes featuring prominent composers including Howard Shore, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Brett Dean and David Arnold.

The series culminates with a new composition brief with a new piece of choreography devised by Monique Jonas. Musicians are invited to submit audio recordings of their compositions to accompany the dance. Selected compositions will be performed by members of the LPO and synced to the choreography. Composer Gavin Higgins has also written a piece to go with the choreography, and the course will feature his tips for composing for the work.

Opportunities to perform

Black Dress Code

The clothing site for musicians will be acting as a platform musicians to upload digital performances and be paid by viewers. Send videos to richard@blackdresscode.com.

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Please contact freya.parr@immediate.co.uk with any updates or events/ensembles to add to the list.