The Academy of St Martin in the Fields has today launched a brand new digital offering of educational resources and performance films that shine a light on three beacons of contemporary music: Eleanor Alberga, former and first-ever Academy Composer in Residence Sally Beamish, and Errollyn Wallen

Marking an expansion of the Academy’s work supporting music learning in schools and its first educational project for Key Stage 1 children, the orchestra has created a variety of educational materials for 5-7 year-olds inspired by three works from the three world-leading female composers. Short videos exploring Eleanor Alberga’s NightscapeSally Beamish’s Partita and Errollyn Wallen’s Concerto Grosso through fun and interactive activities, are accompanied by written resources all devised and presented by Lucy Drever, a presenter, workshop leader and narrator who is also Head of Musicianship at the Benedetti Foundation. Learning materials for Eleanor Alberga’s Nightscape will be made available to schools, local authority music hubs and families from today and are freely available via the Academy’s website. The educational resources for Sally Beamish’s Partita and Errollyn Wallen’s Concerto Grosso will be released in early December and early January.

Recorded at St John’s Smith Square and Henry Wood Hall in London, filmed performances of the three works showcase the musicians from the Academy, from string octet to 13-part wind ensemble through to small-scale chamber orchestra. Eleanor Alberga conducts her own work Nightscape, which conjures up images of going from evening to night in Jamaica. The piece was first premiered in 1993 and a wind ensemble from the Academy gave the first performance since then in November 2020. Commissioned by the Academy during her residency with the orchestra, Sally Beamish’s Partita for string octet was inspired by Mendelssohn’s own work for eight musicians, as well as her time adjudicating at the Carl Nielsen Violin Competition where she heard many superb performances of the Bach solo sonatas and partitas. The piece takes fragments from these composers as well as Handel to take the idea of a partita, a traditional suite for solo instrument, and reimagine it for small chamber ensemble, in her words ‘almost like a bowed keyboard’. Errollyn Wallen’s Concerto Grosso provides a new take on the baroque concerto style. The vibrant composition featuring a combination of dance elements and the buoyant rhythms of the period and popular music is conducted by John Butt.

The performance films will be released on the Academy’s Facebook page  and YouTube channel monthly, launching with the release of Eleanor Alberga’s Nightscape at 7.30pm on Thursday 4 November. Sally Beamish’s Partita will be released 7.30pm on Friday 3 December and Errollyn Wallen’s Concerto Grosso at 7.30pm on Sunday 2 JanuaryInterviews with the composers and ASMF musicians will also be available on the ASMF podcast.

For further information on The Beacon Project, visit The Beacon Project – Academy of St Martin in the Fields (asmf.org)