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Enriched woodwind syllabus aims to ‘inspire curiosity of learners'

2 years ago

A new, enriched woodwind syllabus designed to inspire the curiosity of learners and spark interest in music from all corners of the world and by people of all backgrounds is launched by ABRSM this week.

The eclectic syllabus, which features 18 new commissions and work by dozens of composers new to ABRSM, aims to bring even greater richness to the music available to learners and includes pieces by everyone from Vivaldi and Leonard Bernstein to Hans Zimmer and Errollyn Wallen.

Althea Talbot-Howard, who has contributed several of her own works as well as arrangements of Chevalier de Saint-Georges’ unpublished harp and flute sonata, said: “Part of widening the syllabus is about stretching ourselves to find out more about the past. It’s also about remembering that we don’t have to be constrained by a narrow, traditional curriculum. 

“We can go exploring for quality in other places – whether it’s with new faces, or with old faces that for whatever reason have been overlooked. As we do so, we can create a bridge to draw new people - including Black audiences - into classical music.”

Althea’s contributions are among more than 70 syllabus pieces written or arranged by composers from traditionally under-represented ethnic backgrounds and reflect ABRSM’s commitment to sharing the work of a greater range of musicians. They are also among around 220 pieces featured in the syllabus by women composers.

ABRSM Chief Executive Chris Cobb said: “We want to encourage progression by inspiring the curiosity of learners and sparking their interest in great music by people from all kinds of backgrounds.

“Our new woodwind syllabus is designed to do just that and to celebrate the best work, old and new, from the four corners of the globe.”

The syllabus, which takes effect from 1st January 2022, covers flute, clarinet, saxophones, oboe, bassoon and recorders. It also features work by John Williams, William Grant Still, Lloyd Coleman, Dave Gale, Rachel Broadbent, Gillian Whitehead and Charlotte Bray.

Chris Cobb added: “We are committed to promoting a far greater diversity in what we do and, above all, to bringing an even greater richness to the music available to learners around the world.

“Publication of the new woodwind syllabus, and our recently launched mentor scheme giving opportunities to young composers from a wide variety of backgrounds to write for music education, are the start of our journey towards achieving this.”

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