Touch of excellence for young musicians

Oxford Mail: John Traill, who conducts the county’s youth orchestra John Traill, who conducts the county’s youth orchestra

A NEW course will link Oxfordshire’s music service, schools and an Oxford University college, with the aim of producing excellent musicians.

Witney’s Wood Green School is launching the Excellent Musicians course in September and is hoping it will attract talented people from across the area.

The course will work towards an A-Level and the partnership links schools the Oxfordshire County Music Service (OCMS) and St Anne’s College.

The Cherwell School in Oxford has joined Wood Green to put its name forward for the scheme.

Wood Green’s director of music Jon Cox said music is thriving at the school with the number of pupils taking the subject growing over the years.

The course will see students join with St Anne’s and its director of music John Traill, who conducts the Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra.

Mr Cox said: “We have a strong extra-curricular take-up with about 200 pupils participating.

“The Oxfordshire Music Service is trying to set up these hubs of excellence for music at A-Level.

“So instead of having a small number of students taking up the courses across a number of schools, those who want to do it can go to specific schools with more pupils.

“There are fewer centres offering it as an A-Level now so it means those who want to do it know they can get an excellent course.”

Head of the OCMS Tony Mealings said: “This is a partnership between visionary schools, the county council’s music service, leading Oxford educators and professional musicians.

It’s a fantastic and exciting development for Oxfordshire, providing opportunities that we believe to be unique in the UK.

“It is an exciting new opportunity for schools to support the development of their talented young musicians.

“The offer is open to all schools and we are already in discussion with others who have shown interest in the course.”

As part of the course, pupils will take part in weekly evening sessions at St Anne’s in Woodstock Road and will be able to access workshops, concerts, recitals, lectures and seminars led by musicians.

Mr Cox added: “We hope pupils from across West Oxfordshire will want to come here to do this.

“It should be a really good training course for students wanting to do music at university and at a higher level.”

Oxfordshire County Council is planning to establish a trust to run the OCMS and withdraw its annual support of £362,000 as part of its budget cuts.

It says the new course and partnership with St Anne’s is not connected with those plans.

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