|GMF Conducting Workshop, Italy 2008|
Helen Wallace previews this Easter’s international jazz course at Kings Place, combining intensive teaching with star-studded public concerts and free foyer events, and interviews drummer and course/ festival director Stephen Keogh.
‘Not so much a school as a celebration’, is how one participant described a Global Music Foundation jazz course. And for the first-ever GMF course at Kings Place, over Easter 2012, director Stephen Keogh is determined to make the whole building buzz: ‘We’ll have free foyer events where anyone can come along and learn Samba, bring their kids to the children’s concert or listen in to some great vocal performances.’ Then there are the impressive evening concerts followed by late-night jam sessions at Pizza Express in Dean Street, for which everyone’s welcome to pile in too.
For the intensive four-day course, Keogh has assembled an exceptional faculty. Joining Jason Rebello, Deborah Brown, Jim Mullen, Peter King, Davide Petrocca, Kit Downes, Bruce Barth, Jean Toussaint, Frank Harrison and Darragh Morgan are Guillermo Rozenthuler, who explores the body and vocalisation, Keogh himself leading pulse training, Pete Churchill leading vocal ensembles, and Francesco Petreni doing Samba workshops.
As legendary saxophonist (and GMF teacher) Scott Hamilton commented: ‘The faculty here consists of the people I’d meet on gigs rather than those you’d find just in a music school.’
But though they may be big names on the international circuit, Keogh is keen to point out their other qualities: ‘I would say that this group of people are not only great musicians and teachers, but wonderful human beings, devoted to their craft and to sharing insights. I’ve been working with them for over twenty years, and they are so generous with their time and knowledge, they are inspirational.’
WHO IS THE COURSE OPEN TO?
With such a stellar cast, who is qualified to join the course, I ask? ‘We are open to anyone over 17 who is really serious about music and wants to develop all areas of their musicianship. We don’t audition: we’re looking for those with the right attitude, not those with particular qualifications. We’ve had people with quite basic skills on an instrument develop remarkably during a course. Many of our students are at music college or have been in the past. But I would advise anyone looking for a gentle jazz-themed holiday not to apply – we have great fun but expect
everyone to work!’
He says the sheer intensity and quality of teaching (six hours per day) will give students a total immersion’ in music with activities including instrumental classes, master classes, performance opportunities, supervised rehearsals, group workshops and ensemble sessions. Add to this choir, Samba, pulse training, ear training, coordination and movement, and numerous opportunities to play with fellow students and staff, and it’s clear why this is a course with a difference. As Venezuelan jazz pianist Edward Simon put it, ‘It’s such a rounded, holistic experience… it makes you a complete musician.’
Keogh points out that fundamental aspects of musicianship, such as pulse and rhythm, often get overlooked at college when students are focused on virtuoso instrumental technique. ‘Sometimes all the fun in music-making has been bashed out of students, it’s become a dry, mechanical exercise. Discipline is vital, but the result of all the work should be joyous and we find people rediscover that joy on these courses.’ As one pianist alumnus remarked, ‘It’s given me back my love of music’.
Having run courses all over Europe, the UK and in China, Stephen Keogh’s thrilled to come to Kings Place: ‘It’s a dream come true to be able to run a course in London, one of the great music centres of the world, and this is one of the most exciting venues in the city.’
Course participants have free entry to these concerts at Kings Place:
Friday 6th: Deborah Brown sings the American Songbook in a Double Bil with Giulermo Rozenthuler’s “Viva Brasil”
Saturday 7th: a rare performance of the Janus suite by Peter King in a double bill with Jim Mullen and the Jean Toussaint Quartet
Sunday 8th: Piano spectacular triple bill. A solo piano set from Kit Downes, Bruce Barth, Frank Harison
PLUS all students are invited to attend the Late Night Jam at Pizza Express, Dean Street.
Global Music Foundation is a not-for-profit company. Global Music Foundation WebsiteHelen Wallace’s feature appeared originally in the Kings Place What’s On Magazine