Below are details of Forsyth events that have been happening in store and out and about
We were delighted to welcome back the brilliant Romanian pianist Daniel Ropota fresh from completing his Master's at RNCM. He gave another exhilarating performance of a truly kaleidoscopic programme, from the beautiful to the brutal, and everything in between. Catch up on the live stream on Facebook!
Frédéric Chopin, Ballade No. 1 in G minor Op. 23 (1835)
Sofia Gubaidulina, Chaconne (1963)
Anatoly Lyadov, Prelude in B minor Op. 11 No. 1 (1885)
Sergei Prokofiev, Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat major Op. 83 (1942)
We were thrilled to return to live in-store performances with a recital from concert pianist Matthew McLachlan! This was the first of our series of socially-distanced evening recitals in our newly-refurbished piano showroom, and an audience of over 70 people scattered among the pianos were treated to an enthralling performance of Chopin, Prokofiev and Scriabin.
One audience member, pianist, teacher and writer Rory Dowse, was quick off the mark and posted a glowing review the next day!
Frédéric Chopin, Fantaisie in F minor Op. 49 (1841)
Sergei Prokofiev, Piano Sonata No. 5 in C Major Op. 38 (1923)
Alexander Scriabin, 24 Preludes Op. 11 (1888–96)
Jerome McGuinness, a final-year student at the Royal Northern College of Music, presented a selection of pieces from John Playford's influential The English Dancing Master (first published in 1651) in the popular versions for viola and piano by Richard Rodney Bennett and his own new arrangements for string duo and trio:
Jerome McGuinness (2020), Drive the Cold Winter Away, Parson's Farewell, Pool's Hole, Maiden Lane, and Kettledrum (for string trio), and The Whitehall Minuet (for violin and viola): click here for a video of The Whitehall Minuet!
– with Sabrina Ghadaouia, violin, and Joseph Harrison, cello
Richard Rodney Bennett (2003), All in a Garden Green, Buskin, and The Czar of Muscovy
– with Fangbin Xia, piano
We were excited to be taking part in the second Manchester Song Festival, a day of workshops and performances at The Stoller Hall of English- and German-language repertoire on the theme of travel. Forsyth provided an on-site shop of vocal sheet music, accessories and gifts throughout the event, which featured students from the Royal Northern College of Music, Chetham's School of Music and Greater Manchester Music Hubs, and distinguished soloists Nicky Spence (tenor) and Roderick Williams OBE (baritone).
At this month's packed workshop for the European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA), Susan worked with twenty pianists in front of their families and friends, covering everything from effective practice, through technique and interpretation, to presentation in performance. Here she is in action, working with Murray on passages from Grieg's Wedding Day at Troldhaugen:
It was wonderful to welcome members of the Pianoforte Tuners' Association (PTA) from all over the country to Forsyth for a training day on "The Interaction between Regulation and Voicing" with special guest speaker Karl Heinz Habermann, Head Technician of the Schimmel Grand Piano Department.
This was a fantastic opportunity for piano technicians to explore the theory and techniques of regulation and voicing under the guidance of Schimmel's Head Technician, and to gain hands-on experience of working on this prestigious maker's magnificent grand pianos. Forsyth are the only authorised Schimmel dealers in the North West of England and have the largest and most comprehensive selection of Schimmel instruments in the UK.
We were delighted to welcome back pianist Fangbin Xia, a student at the Royal Northern College of Music, who performed here at Forsyth last year. For her final-year creative project, she curated an extremely varied multimedia programme including a baroque trumpet sonata and music for piano and soundtrack, all painted live in front of the audience:
Giuseppe Torelli, Sonata in D Major (G1)
– with Zoë Kundu, natural trumpet
Roderik de Man, Wajang for Piano and Fixed Media
Caroline Bordignon: Live Painting
The first meetup of the year with Let's Play the Piano! included music from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, J. S. Bach, W. A. Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Saint-Saëns, Sydney Smith, Grieg, MacDowell, Satie, Joplin, Glière, Prokofiev, Howard Blake, Philip Hammond, Ludovico Einaudi and Yann Tiersen, as well as new music by members of the group.
This year our Christmas Shopping Day coincided with Small Business Saturday, the national campaign supported by American Express to encourage all of us to get out on the high street and support the small businesses in our communities. As well as discounts throughout the store, and complimentary mulled wine and mince pies, we enjoyed live festive music courtesy of Michael Welton!
This month, 45 members of Let's Play the Piano! met in our performance space to share beautiful music by Byrd, J. S. Bach, Schubert, Chopin, Debussy, Granados, Kern, Arndt, Prokofiev, Waller, Templeton, Nikolai Kapustin and Mike Cornick. The previous weekend (2 November), 18 members had also performed in the group's Annual Concert at Emmanuel Church, Didsbury, raising £735 for Leonard Cheshire.
Above: the November meetup at Forsyth (left) and the Annual Concert at Emmanuel Church, Didsbury (right).
Thank you to everyone who stopped to listen to and support Ben Sneddon, an A Level student at The Fallibroome Academy, who busked for a very cold hour on our street piano and raised £136.28 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
This was one of several fundraising events organised by members of the school in memory of their fellow student Max Ambrose-Morrison, who passed away earlier this year.
Ben's set included songs like All of Me, Despacito, Hall of Fame, Say Something, See You Again and Wonderwall, plus music by Einaudi and Yiruma. Watch a clip from 'See You Again' here!
Our final European Piano Teachers Association workshop of 2019 was a great success with 22 pianists of all ages gaining valuable experience of performing to each other, family and friends, and receiving invaluable feedback and guidance from Susan Bettaney, who helps players with all aspects of their development from effective warm-ups to try at home to dealing with issues that arise on stage.
Above: Susan Bettaney with participants from the morning (left) and afternoon (right) sessions of November's workshop
At this month's session, members of Let's Play the Piano, the regular Meetup group for adult amateur pianists and music-lovers, gathered around one of our beautiful 9-foot Schimmel Konzert grand pianos to share beautiful music by Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, Joplin, Elliott, Scriabin, Rachmaninov, Messiaen, Bernstein, Kapustin and Wayne Hill, as well as new pieces composed by the musicians themselves.
It was wonderful to see Melanie Spanswick back at Forsyth! Following her inspiring workshop in January (see below), Melanie returned for a further free session on developing a fluent, flexible, tension-free piano technique and maintaining it in a variety of musical contexts – essential for accuracy, freedom of expression, avoiding injury and maximising enjoyment.
She began with a brief recap of the January workshop, which examined basic physical flexibility and ideal tone production, starting with posture and wrist exercises, followed by building finger agility alongside developing a relaxed hand and wrist.
This was then followed by two separate workshops: the first looked at tackling double notes, ornaments and cantabile, combined with a loose hand; and the second focused on octaves, chords, chordal balance and arm-weight.
She also talked about her brilliant piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott), the third book of which was published in March this year.
As ever it was great to have a full house of pianists and teachers taking part in discussions and trying out the exercises. So many of those who volunteered to play said they couldn't believe how much tension they'd had now that they were being shown how to relax!
Above: (left) one of our wonderful Schimmel K230T Konzert grand pianos ready for performers in the Whiteley Hall; and (right) our pop-up shop in the Oglesby Atrium.
We provided over 20 top-quality Schimmel, Yamaha and Kawai pianos – from uprights to concert grands! – for masterclasses, teaching and practice, as well as an extensive pop-up shop of sheet music and recordings within the school. This year we were delighted to represent leading international publisher G. Henle Verlag, whose beautiful, authoritative Urtext editions include their new series of the Beethoven sonatas prepared by pianist Murray Perahia and Henle's Head of Publishing Norbert Gertsch, who gave a talk during the Summer School.
Above: (left) one of our dedicated stands of Henle publications; and (right) lots of enthusiastic pianists registering in the Atrium at the start of the Summer School.
At our historic five-storey premises on Deansgate in the city centre – only a 10- to 15-minute walk from Chetham's – we also took participants and members of the public on behind-the-scenes tours of our piano workshops, offering a rare and fascinating insight into the inner workings of pianos, how they are serviced by our on-site team and the differences between makers. The tours also included exclusive access to Forsyth's private collection of historical keyboard instruments!
Above: (left) our French polisher Philippa working on the beautiful burl walnut case of an upright piano; and (right) our in-house piano technician Stuart explaining how we service upright pianos.
Above: (left) in our showroom, pianist Benjamin Frith demonstrating the newly-restored rosewood Steinway model A; and (right) one of our Directors, Simon, offering a glimpse of some of the historical instruments in the Forsyth collection.
As ever, it was a joy to welcome back Susan Bettaney for another inspiring workshop with the European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA). These regular sessions are always so popular thanks to Susan's wide-ranging attention to all aspects of piano playing: not only technique and interpretation, but everything from practising in a way that respects physical and mental health to walking on and off stage and interacting with the audience. Fifteen pianists took part, receiving Susan's expert individual guidance and gaining invaluable experience of performing in front of a friendly audience.
One of the questions we are asked most regularly by classically-trained pianists is "how can I get into jazz?" Someone uniquely qualified to answer that question is Tim Richards, who is not only a distinguished international jazz musician in his own right but one who, unusually, can explain his approach to the uninitiated. While many jazz musicians claim to have no idea how they do what they do, Tim runs regular jazz courses for classical pianists and piano teachers in London, examines and contributes to the syllabus for ABRSM jazz exams, and has written a number of popular and critically-acclaimed books on the subject, including Exploring Jazz Piano, winner of the prestigious Music Industries Association Award for Best Pop Publication.
Above: Tim Richards opens the workshop (left) and participants improvise on Duke Ellington's "C Jam Blues" (right)
We were therefore very excited to welcome Tim to Forsyth for a workshop on "Getting into Jazz, Blues and Improvisation". In this inspiring, free, two-hour session, Tim covered some basic harmony and showed how it can be applied to constructing bass lines and jazz chords. He also gave tips to help with developing improv skills, using jazz standards and tunes from Improvising Blues Piano, Exploring Jazz Piano, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, and his more recent books such as the Blues, Boogie & Gospel Collection, all published by Schott. More than 35 pianists and teachers took advantage of this brilliant opportunity to learn from such an experienced and engaging musician and educator, and left both with signed copies of his books and with a feeling that proficiency in jazz was now within their grasp – some even daring to have a go at improvising in front of everybody else!
Above: more participants improvise on the Mixolydian and Dorian modes (left) and on Tim's own "Funky Two-Five" (right)
It was a pleasure to welcome back Let's Play the Piano! for their latest Meetup: fifty pianists and piano-lovers gathered around one of our beautiful 9-foot Schimmel Konzert grand pianos to share a wide range of music, including pieces by Bach, Gluck, Chopin, Schumann, Gurlitt, Borodin, Puccini, Ilyinsky, Joplin, Scriabin, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Bortkiewicz, Delcroix, Webern and Stanley Myers, plus a piano duet inspired by Walter Murphy's "A Fifth of Beethoven", arranged by Bob and performed with Adam:
We were proud to be invited to be part of MIF19 as one of the host locations for Rimini Protokoll's Utopolis Manchester. The project offered a fascinating insight into our city, a journey of discovery in which participants explored a variety of unique venues throughout Manchester, including Forsyth, from a new perspective:
Utopolis Manchester is a visionary site-specific work that uses intricate tapestries of sound and voices to transform our view of the city. Gathering in dozens of small groups at multiple locations, we'll head out to explore the people and places that shape Manchester's daily life – and discover the many ways in which citizens build communities, society and democracy.
As our assembly reaches critical mass, a question emerges. Can a group of disparate individuals come together to forge a utopian state? And how large can this system grow before it falls apart?
Created by Rimini Protokoll and inspired by Thomas More's 'Utopia', Utopolis Manchester asks whether another society might exist, if only for a utopian moment…
In preparation for his performance at Didsbury Arts Festival at the end of the month, pianist Alex Winkcup gave a preview of his jazz-inspired programme here at Forsyth, with a retiring collection for the Albert Kennedy Trust, which supports LGBTQ+ people who are at risk of homelessness.
Alex studied Music at Manchester University and piano performance at the Royal Northern College of Music under John Gough. Since graduating from the RNCM Master's programme 10 years ago, he has based himself in south Manchester and currently works as a piano teacher, accompanist and performer. Recently he has developed a taste for jazz and this joyful, exuberant programme explored music at the crossover of jazz and classical idioms:
Chick Corea, Children's Songs (a selection)
Nikolai Kapustin, Piano Sonata No. 2
Earl Wild, Seven Virtuoso Etudes on Gershwin Songs: Liza, Somebody Loves Me, The Man I Love, Embraceable You, Lady Be Good, I Got Rhythm, Fascinatin' Rhythm
Ahead of her ATCL (Associate of Trinity College London) music performance diploma examination later in August, Fiona Morganhauser performed the same programme here at Forsyth in memory of her mother Kathryn Whelpton, who died on 11 June 2011, with a retiring collection for Nordoff Robbins, the UK's leading independent music therapy charity.
All of the pieces in the programme had a personal meaning for Fiona: the Bach was included in honour of one of her first teachers, Hephzibah Menuhin; the Chopin and Brahms were pieces she studied under Alfred Kitchin at Trinity College London in the 1970s; and the Debussy was among her mother's favourite works:
Johann Sebastian Bach, Prelude and Fugue in D major BWV 850 (from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1)
Frédéric Chopin, Impromptu No. 3 in G flat major Op. 51
Johannes Brahms, Rhapsody in G minor Op. 79 No. 2
Claude Debussy, Pour le piano L. 95: I. Prélude; II. Sarabande
It was a joy to welcome Philippa Topham to present our latest piano teacher workshop. Philippa is herself a teacher, formerly based in Manchester but lately settled in Dorset, where her busy schedule also includes accompanying, adjudicating, leading singing sessions with dementia patients, mentoring piano teachers for Diplomas, and presenting seminars such as this one.
It was a brilliant introduction to the fun, thorough and varied Adult Piano Adventures series, and full of insights into helping students become motivated and music-loving pianists. We were grateful to all the teachers who came and contributed to the friendly and productive discussions, and to Piano Adventures UK and their distributor Hal Leonard Europe for generously providing teacher packs for all participants.
Following our debut appearance at last year's biggest-ever North West Guitar Show, we were thrilled to return this year, once again curating our own dedicated space featuring some of the world's finest makers.
With our pop-up shop situated just inside the main entrance, we were perfectly placed to showcase highlights from our wide and eclectic range of instruments, including exclusives from Höfner Germany, Eastman, and Haydock favourites Auden and Gordon Smith.
It was great to see so many Forsyth regulars among the guitar-lovers who flocked once again to this fantastic event, which brings together musicians, collectors, retailers, distributors, manufacturers and luthiers, and features live music throughout the day.
Ahead of his final-year recital at the Royal Northern College of Music later in the month, Romanian pianist Daniel Ropota gave a brilliant performance of the same programme here at Forsyth, with a retiring collection on behalf of the Musicians' Union Benevolent Fund. An appreciative audience was treated to a beautiful selection of works from Bach, Mendelssohn, Franck and Liszt, each introduced by Daniel, and rounded off by a fabulous encore by fellow-countryman Paul Constantinescu:
Johann Sebastian Bach, Prelude and Fugue in G major BWV 860 (from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1)
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Variations sérieuses Op. 54
César Franck, Prélude, choral et fugue FWV 21
Franz Liszt, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 in C-sharp minor S. 244/12
Encore: Paul Constantinescu, Toccata "Joc Dobrogean" (Dobrogean Dance)
We were excited to return to the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival, Huddersfield, for the fourth time and we weren't disappointed! As ever, this award-winning, volunteer-run not-for-profit event – headlined this year by Jake Shimabukuro – attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd of ukulele-lovers.
Every day is a uke-fest at Forsyth, so our pop-up shop at GNUF showcased the huge variety of ukuleles we stock, including some unusual instruments and some very special offers. Among the instruments we sold at the event were resonator, travel, six-string, eight-string, moon-shaped, electric and bass models. Also popular were our ever-expanding ranges of ukulele-themed jewellery, badges and sheet music. We're already looking forward to returning in 2020!
We had another brilliant, fully-booked all-day session with Susan Bettaney of the European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA) coaching 20 pianists of all ages on all aspects of their preparation and performance, including individually-tailored advice on warm-ups, practice, technique, interpretation and stage-presence.
A wonderful workshop from the authors of the innovative Piano Safari series, Katherine Fisher and Julie Knerr Hague! In a crowded market, they've created something genuinely unique – a fresh, fun but absolutely thorough method that combines learning both by rote and by reading for maximum engagement and enjoyment, with online videos to help parents encourage learners at home. Browse the series for yourself here!
We were very grateful to Katherine and Julie for joining us all the way from the USA; to Andrew Higgins of Alfred Music UK, who distribute their publications in Europe, for the generous complimentary teacher packs; and to the piano teachers who braved the elements, contributed their thoughts and questions, and even volunteered during demonstrations!
Only founded in 2005, the Leeds Lieder Festival has blossomed into "one of the most exuberant and far-reaching festivals of art-song in the UK" (The Times), attracting some of the finest singers and pianists of our time. This year's Festival featured performances and workshops with such luminaries as Guest of Honour Angelika Kirchschlager, acclaimed soprano Miah Persson and baritone Benjamin Appl, "that peerless song accompanist" (Daily Telegraph) Graham Johnson and Festival Director Joseph Middleton.
Following our appearance at the inaugural Manchester Vocal Weekend in February (see below), we were thrilled to have been invited to exhibit at the Leeds Festival with our pop-up shop of vocal and choral sheet music, CDs and gifts.
For our latest lunchtime concert we were pleased to welcome four excellent pianists from the Royal Northern College of Music to perform a programme of beautiful music by Mozart, Chopin, Liszt and Prokofiev, with a retiring collection on behalf of the Dogs Trust:
Chopin, Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante in E-flat major Op. 22
– Mengyuan Zhen, piano
Mozart, Piano Sonata No. 12 in F major K. 332
– Fangbin Xia, piano
Prokofiev, Piano Sonata No. 9 in C major Op. 103: I. Allegretto; II. Allegro strepitoso
– Li Liu, piano
Liszt, Après une lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata (Dante Sonata)
– Lu He, piano
This year we achieved our goal of giving 200 free taster lessons on more than 20 different instruments in just one weekend!
It was wonderful to welcome so many people to the shop and hear their stories. For some it was a dream come true to have a go on an instrument they'd always wanted to try. For others it helped them overcome the practical or psychological barriers associated with starting a new instrument or returning to one they used to play. And for many children and their parents it was the perfect way for them to try out several instruments before committing to a course of lessons at school.
We have supported Learn to Play Day – organised by the charity Music for All to encourage participation in music – since it began in 2012 and this was our biggest one yet. We managed to find space and time to accommodate individual and joint lessons on piano, voice, guitar, ukulele, balalaika, and all the major woodwind, brass and string instruments, including harp, as well as our fully-booked group ukulele lesson for 30 beginners of all ages.
As ever, we couldn't have done it without the wonderful teachers who so generously volunteered their time and expertise: these included students from the Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Manchester, musicians and teachers from all over Manchester, as well as vocal and instrumental specialists from Forsyth:
Lou Armer and Mike Byrne (group ukulele) • Kathryn Burke (recorder, flute, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, trumpet, cornet, trombone, ukulele, balalaika) • Holly Calder (piano) • Lauren Collings (trumpet, cornet, tenor horn, French horn) • Lottie Gleadall (voice) • Malcolm Goodare (cello) • Lucy-Rose Graham (voice, piano, cello) • Matthew Jones (flute) • Carl Leighton (piano) • Mark Leighton (classical, acoustic, electric and bass guitar) • Johanna ShuTing Leung (clarinet) • Emily McArthur (recorder, flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone) • Helen Milroy (violin, viola) • Joe Nickson (bass guitar, double bass) • Alice Dwyer Roberts (harp) • Joe Sharples (trombone) • Michael Welton (guitar, ukulele, violin) • Christine Zhou (piano)
We are also very grateful for the musical stationery and toys kindly donated by ABRSM, Breitkopf & Härtel, Music Distribution Services GmbH, Oxford University Press and Schott Music Ltd. These were greatly appreciated by the learners who received them in their goody bags along with our own special discount vouchers.
It was lovely to be back at the Royal Northern College of Music for their annual festival celebrating chamber music in general and, this year, the innovations and ongoing influence of Joseph Haydn in particular. We took along our own pop-up shop of sheet music, instrumental accessories and gifts, and represented leading international publishers G. Henle Verlag and Edition Peters, offering special discounts on their beautiful Urtext editions of the Haydn string quartets, which were featured in different programmes throughout the Festival.
Once again, a capacity crowd of 50 converged on our basement to share two hours of wonderful piano music. About half the members of this meetup group got up to perform on our 9-foot Schimmel grand piano, contributing to a typically eclectic programme of Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, Arne, Krebs, Beethoven, Chopin, Moszkowski, Satie, Scriabin, Rachmaninov, Confrey, Sondheim, John Williams, Elena Kats-Chernin, Miguel Astor, Catherine Rollin and Yann Tiersen.
We were very excited to be involved in the very first Manchester Vocal Weekend at Chetham's School of Music: two days of workshops, masterclasses and recitals, led by award-winning baritone and former Chetham's student Marcus Farnsworth with soprano Ruby Hughes and pianist Joseph Middleton.
Participants enjoyed special discounts at our pop-up shop of solo vocal and choral music and accessories, including 15% off the scores used for the opening event, Come & Sing Haydn’s Nelson Mass.
We were pleased to be able to help students from the Royal Northern College of Music – pianists Fangbin Xia, Xinnan Pu and Yilan Zhou, and singer Soph Taylor – raise money for Manchester South Central Foodbank by providing venue, piano and marketing support for a wonderful charity concert, which was particularly memorable for being live-painted by Caroline Bordignon!
Mozart, Piano Sonata No. 6 in D major K. 284: I. Allegro
Scarlatti, Keyboard Sonata in F minor K. 387
Rachmaninoff, Étude-Tableau Op. 39 No. 1 in C minor
– Xinnan Pu, piano
Fauré, Cinq mélodies "de Venise": I. Mandoline; II. En sourdine
– Soph Taylor, voice & Fangbin Xia, piano
Schumann, Faschingsschwank aus Wien Op. 26: I. Allegro
Chopin, Étude Op. 25 No. 5 in E minor
– Yilan Zhou, piano
This wonderful workshop was a rare opportunity for pairs of pianists – playing either piano duets (four hands, one piano) or duos (two pianos) – to work on a piece with two specialists in the field, Susan Bettaney and Amy Wakefield of the European Piano Teachers Association. Players ranging from children as young as five to professional piano teachers offered four-hand pieces by Schubert, Grieg, Fauré, Moszkowski, Walton, Leroy Anderson and Christopher Norton, as well as a two-piano arrangement of Mendelssohn's Rondo Capriccioso.
Above: Susan Bettaney and Amy Wakefield play Kuhlau's Sonatina in G (left, centre) and Chopin's Variations sur un air national de Moore (right)
Above: Photos of participating pianists courtesy of EPTA UK
We were delighted to be invited back to the Bridgewater Hall for Australian guitar virtuoso Craig Ogden's Guitar Weekend – three days of fantastic concerts, masterclasses, workshops, talks and film screenings attracting hundreds of guitarists and music-lovers, as well as performers like Tom Doughty, Zoran Dukić, Sean Shibe, and the Manchester Camerata. We were there with our pop-up shop of beautiful guitars, accessories and sheet music for everyone to browse, try and discuss with our expert staff.
An inspiring workshop on the importance of a flexible and relaxed piano technique with Melanie Spanswick, acclaimed pianist, composer, educator, adjudicator and author. So many pianists who struggle with tension are simply told to relax but are rarely shown how, so it was eye-opening to see how a few simple yet fundamental exercises can transform not only a player's technique but also their musical expression and enjoyment. We were delighted that so many teachers, learners and parents were able to join us and contribute to the discussions and demonstrations.
Melanie also presented her new series of books, Play it again: PIANO, which, while primarily aimed at those who are returning to the piano after a break, is also a perfect course for intermediate and advanced pianists, who have had to make do without modern, structured method books until now. You can read more about the series on our blog!
We had a great weekend at the Royal Northern College of Music's high-profile annual Strings Festival. This year we were also representing leading international publishers Henle and Edition Peters alongside our own pop-up shop with shelves full of solo and chamber sheet music, plus string instruments and accessories and musical gifts.
This month saw the biggest turn-out yet, with 50 pianists and music-lovers meeting to share an afternoon of live performances. The wide-ranging programme included the second movement of the Grieg piano concerto, performed on two beautiful 9-foot Schimmel Konzert grand pianos, a piano duet by Sidney Smith, solo works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Elgar, Scriabin and Rachmaninov, plus arrangements of songs by Gershwin, Errol Garner and Queen and music from The Godfather.
We were delighted to host the final leg of the ABRSM Guitar Roadshow, presented by Helen Sanderson, Head of Guitar Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, who gave a wonderful introduction to the music on the new syllabus, complete with brilliant live performances. It was great too to have such an engaged audience joining in with the discussion and asking lots of questions!
This month the Meetup group Let's Play the Piano! packed out our performance space with a programme as diverse as ever: classic piano repertoire by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, Chaminade and Rachmaninov, songs by Gershwin, Ray Noble and the Sherman Brothers, folk songs from the former Yugoslavia, and arrangements from Final Fantasy, Game of Thrones and The Greatest Showman.
Our third European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA) workshop of the year was our busiest ever! This time, 25 young pianists were able to perform in front of each other, their friends and family, and to benefit from the invaluable insight and encouragement of Susan Bettaney, seen below putting players and audience alike through a thorough warm-up...
The Tea and Jam Collective were back for the second in their series of informal concerts for musicians of all abilities and styles: amateur players in the first half, and the professional Tea and Jam house band in the second, with copious amounts of tea throughout!
We had a brilliant few days at the Royal Northern College of Music, the University of Salford and BIMM meeting new and returning students and introducing them to our comprehensive range of products and services, not least our 10% student discounts on sheet music and accessories!
Above: Emily taking care of our stalls at RNCM (left) and Salford University (right)
This month's Meetups featured classics from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Rachmaninov and Cole Porter, lesser-known works from Henryk Pachulski and Alexander Illinsky, original works and improvisations by members of the group, plus a special performance of Linda Ronstadt's 1986 hit 'Somewhere Out There' with sign language.
In September we welcomed the Tea and Jam Collective to Forsyth for the first in their new series of events bringing together adult amateur and professional musicians for a friendly session of music-making, with plenty of time to chat over tea!
For the 11th year, Forsyth is proud to have sponsored the Chetham's International Summer School and Festival for Pianists. The prestigious annual Summer School is Europe's largest such event devoted exclusively to the piano and incorporates the International Piano Series of public concerts at the Stoller Hall, which this year featured solo recitals and concerto evenings with such luminaries as Einar-Steen Nøkleberg, Leon McCawley, Ronald Brautigam and Martin Roscoe.
We provided over £500,000's worth of pianos for concerts, masterclasses, teaching and practice – 20 top-quality instruments by Schimmel, Yamaha and Kawai, from uprights to concert grands! – as well as an extensive pop-up shop of sheet music, recordings, accessories and gifts in the school's Oglesby Atrium.
Back at our premises on Deansgate, we also took summer school participants and members of the public on behind-the-scenes tours of our piano workshops with exclusive access to our private collection of historical keyboard instruments. Our guests were treated to two-hour tours explaining the history of piano-making, the principles of modern piano design and construction as well as piano maintenance and repair.
The latest session of the regular Meetup group for pianists included everything from Bach and Scarlatti, through Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Granados and Messiaen, to Thelonius Monk, Yann Tiersen and Queen.
In our latest free workshop for teachers, learners and parents, Trinity examiner, teacher and pianist John Human offered his insights into teaching and learning from Trinity College London's new Piano 2018-2020 syllabus, with demonstrations, performances and training on:
John largely focused on one piece per grade, discussing why each was chosen, what musical and technical skills it would help to develop and how examiners would approach their marking. In this relaxed and encouraging setting, members of the audience actively participated in the discussion and even volunteered to perform the featured pieces, often from sight.
They were also able to discuss any aspect of the Trinity exams with Peter Buckby, Trinity's Regional Consultant for the Midlands and North of England.
Above: Peter Buckby (standing, left) and John Human (standing, right) of Trinity College London
Student and amateur pianists of all ages had another wonderful opportunity to gain invaluable performing experience and expert advice from the inspiring Susan Bettaney at our second European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA) workshop of the year.
This was our debut appearance at the North West Guitar Show, one of the UK's largest gatherings of guitar enthusiasts, and we were thrilled to be curating the spacious Members Suite!
We showcased highlights from the eclectic range of instruments to be found in our newly-refurbished Guitar department at our historic Manchester store.
In particular, we brought exclusives from Höfner Germany, Furch Guitars, Kala Ukuleles and Haydock favourites Auden and Gordon Smith, plus a superb selection of guitar sheet music from the shop's award-winning Sheet Music department.
As well as viewing and trying these marvellous instruments, festival-goers had the perfect opportunity to discuss them with specialists from these makers as well as Forsyth's own experts:
As you can tell from the photo below, we had a great time at the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival! It was our third year at the event, which was just as brilliant as last year when it won UKE Magazine's Best Ukulele Festival 2017 award. Our pop-up shop of ukuleles, sheet music and accessories included some unusual instruments and some very special offers, and was the perfect vantage point for meeting and catching up with fellow ukulele enthusiasts.
April's session of the Meetup group Let's Play the Piano! was the first in a new series of charitable events at which all attendance contributions are donated to a local children's or young persons' musical education project for them to spend as they wish on music books or equipment. In support of this excellent initiative, Forsyth has pledged to top up the group's donation by 10% in addition to providing the beneficiaries with a 10% educational discount.
In this session, a total of £200 was raised for the Stockport Recorder College, a volunteer-run charity in Hazel Grove providing individual and group tuition in recorder, theory and aural skills to young people aged between 7 and 18 every Saturday during term-time. The College enables access to music education for students who might otherwise be unable to afford it and, particularly through ensemble playing, students make friends and develop confidence, many of them going on to study music at institutions such as the Royal Northern College of Music and Birmingham Conservatoire.
Despite the snow’s best efforts, our Learn to Play Day weekend was bigger than ever! In just two hugely enjoyable days, we gave 180 free individual musical instrument lessons to learners aged 2 to 82, and got about 50 people playing ukulele in two free group sessions.
Learners ranged from complete beginners of all ages, through those experimenting with second instruments, to others who were once at conservatoire standard but were returning to their instrument after a break.
We are extremely grateful to the wonderful teachers who so generously volunteered their time and expertise: instrumental specialists from Forsyth were joined by students from the Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Manchester and teachers from schools and music services across Greater Manchester:
Lou Armer (group ukulele) • Pablo Estébanez Blanco (double bass) • Awen Blandford (cello) • Kathryn Burke (trumpet, cornet, trombone, recorder, flute, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, ukulele, balalaika, percussion) • Wyn Chan (piano) • Olivia Dance (piano) • Malcolm Goodare (cello) • Lucy-Rose Graham (cello, piano) • Mark Leighton (classical, acoustic, electric and bass guitar) • Johanna ShuTing Leung (clarinet) • Irene Jiménez Lizcano (flute) • Nastasia Loucaidou (piano) • Maria Luc (piano) • Ryan Mark (violin, piano, harp) • Emily McArthur (recorder, flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone) • Annabel Revell (violin, viola) • Lloyd Rhodes (acoustic and electric guitar) • Kathryn Rigby (violin, viola) • Michael Welton (ukulele, violin) • Charli Wild (violin, viola, trombone)
With more than twice as many bookings as last year, we were all kept on our toes and gave lessons in every available space throughout the store: offices, stock rooms, our third-floor piano workshop and the shop window, in addition to our dedicated teaching, practice and performance spaces in the basement.
We would also like to thank ABRSM, Faber Music, Music Sales Group and Oxford University Press for kindly donating the fantastic musical stationery that went into the gift bags handed out to learners along with our own special discount vouchers.
Check out our Facebook album for more photos!
It's always a pleasure to take our pop-up shop to the Royal Northern College of Music! Their latest high-profile Chamber Music Festival, part of their French Connections season, featured performances by Quatuor Voce, Trio Apaches, folk trio Faustus and musicians from the Aronowitz Ensemble in addition to students from RNCM, Junior RNCM, Chetham's School of Music and St Mary's School.
As well as taking huge range of solo, chamber and educational publications, plus a selection of instruments, accessories and gifts, we represented leading international publishers Bärenreiter and Edition Peters with stands dedicated to their beautiful, authoritative publications.
This session of the Meetup group Let's Play the Piano! was a little different to previous ones: the focus was on 'non-classical' genres – jazz, blues, show tunes, light music and pop – and all attendance contributions were donated to the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital Charity in support of their music therapy project.
Angela, a representative of RMCH as well as a regular member of Let's Play the Piano!, was on hand to discuss the charity's work and to take receipt of the group's fantastic donation of £276. A tremendously fun afternoon for local pianists doing what they love for a wonderful cause!
We were delighted to see Susan Bettaney back at Forsyth for our first European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA) workshop of the year. The all-day in-store event provided young and amateur pianists with invaluable insights and performance experience on one of our glorious Schimmel Konzert grands in front of a lovely audience!
Above: the eight performers in the afternoon session, with Susan Bettaney (right)
A wonderfully entertaining evening with Murray McLachlan and Marcus Blunt to celebrate the launch of their latest CD, Marcus Blunt: Orchestral Works, on the Divine Art label. The disc features Murray's recording of Marcus's Piano Concerto with Manchester Camerata as well as other orchestral works by Marcus, including his Concertino for Bassoon, with soloist Lesley Wilson and conducted by Stephen Threlfall, both of whom were among the capacity audience.
Murray, a great champion of Marcus's work, spoke with passion about Marcus's beautiful, distinctive and 'celestial' harmonic language, illustrated with masterful performances of two solo piano pieces from their earlier collaboration, Aspirations. Conductor Stephen Threlfall also spoke about how Marcus managed to convey original musical ideas in concise, comprehensible forms with such idiomatic writing for each instrument that his music was a joy for him and the orchestra to prepare and perform.
Marcus worked in our Instrument Department back in the early 70s before going on to a successful career as both composer and woodwind teacher. He joined us for the evening from Scotland with his family. Murray, on the other hand, came from just down the road at Chetham's School of Music, where he is Head of Keyboard in addition to his world-renowned activities as pianist, adjudicator and writer.
Above (left to right): Marcus Blunt and Murray McLachlan
The second half of the evening was concerned with the art of transcription: Murray played two of his own compositions based on works by Rachmaninov, newly published by Spartan Press, and Busoni, a two-piano work performed with his wife, Kathryn Page. He discussed how he considered that such works, while drawing on music of the past, ought also to be forward-looking. As such, these two pieces are dedicated to several of his students, the next generation of pianists, and are rich in unusual technical and timbral details requiring special study.
Blending music and speech in a way that is interesting and accessible to both the specialists and the non-specialists among the audience is something that few musicians do well but Murray does with apparent ease. Many of the audience stayed afterwards to show their appreciation, have CDs and publications signed and take photos.
Above (left to right): Murray McLachlan, Kathryn Page, Marcus Blunt, Maureen Blunt and Lesley Wilson.
Marcus Blunt, Fantasy on the Name 'Murray McLachlan'
Marcus Blunt, Sonata No. 3, 'The Life Force'
Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto No. 1, second movement, arranged for solo piano by Murray McLachlan
Busoni, Fantasy after J. S. Bach, arranged for two pianos* by Murray McLachlan
Murray McLachlan (piano)
* with Kathryn Page
The RNCM’s prestigious annual event dedicated to bowed strings, guitar and harp was focused this year on British and French music. We collaborated with leading international publishers Bärenreiter and Edition Peters to offer a wide range of solo, chamber and educational publications as well as a selection of string instruments, accessories and gifts, all available for sale as part of the exhibition on the RNCM concourses. For further information about the festival, see the official website here!
For some time now we have been the oldest independent business in Manchester and this was our 160th Christmas in the city! As part of our anniversary celebrations, we combined our annual Christmas Shopping Weekend with Small Business Saturday, the nationwide campaign to encourage all of us to get out on the high street and support the small businesses in our communities.
In this spirit, we teamed up with Metrolink and our favourite local deli, Katsouris, to offer discounts and free Sunday lunches to those visiting town to purchase instruments in-store, in addition to our ever-popular annual rounds of complimentary mulled wine, mince pies and live music!
The most recent sessions of the Meetup group featured excellent performances of works for one or two players on one or two pianos by such varied composers as Bartók, Blumenfeld, Chopin, Finzi, Bear McCreary, Mendelssohn, Scarlatti, Schulhoff and Nobuo Uematsu.
The November meeting culminated in the Grieg Piano Concerto brilliantly executed by regular member Vera with organiser Ben on two pianos, including a spectacular and newly-restored 7-foot 'Glass Grand' piano by Schimmel, which will shortly be returned to the Trafford Centre complete with the latest QRS automation system:
It's always a pleasure to welcome Susan Bettaney of the European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA) to Forsyths for one of her popular and inspiring workshops, providing young pianists and adult amateurs with the opportunity to perform to a supportive audience and to benefit from Susan's advice and encouragement.
This session also featured a short recital and talk on "Contemporary Chinese Piano Pieces for Teaching and Performing" by Susan Chan, on tour from Canada, where she gives regular workshops and masterclasses, including an adult performance group to support late starters such as herself.
For the 10th year, Forsyth is proud to have sponsored the Chetham’s International Summer School and Festival for Pianists. We provided 18 top-quality Schimmel, Yamaha and Kawai pianos for masterclasses, teaching and practice – including seven grand pianos! – as well as an extensive pop-up sheet music and recordings shop within the school.
At our permanent five-storey premises on Deansgate in the city centre – only a 10-minute walk from Chetham’s – we also took participants and members of EPTA (the European Piano Teachers Association) on behind-the-scenes tours of our piano workshops, offering a rare and fascinating insight into the inner workings of pianos, how they are serviced by our on-site team and the differences between makers.
The ever-expanding Meetup group Let's Play the Piano returned to Forsyth for two further sessions in July and August.
The July event featured extended performances by its more experienced members, including Chris, Bob, David and Vera (pictured below), on our very special 9-foot Schimmel K219 grand piano. Between them, they presented works by Chopin, Debussy, Grieg, Liszt, Rachmaninov and Schumann, and introduced many of us to the Armenian composers Abramian and Bagdasarian.
At the August event, all members were invited to play – regardless of ability, experience or musical style – or just to listen. The programme included everything from vintage Bach to current chart hits as well as original compositions by the performers, all shared with a friendly and enthusiastic audience of new and existing members.
In these two taster sessions, experienced guitarist and teacher Will Halligan provided an introduction to playing the classical guitar and its enormously varied repertoire, which encompasses not only classical music, but also jazz, blues and even folk, rock and pop. Both sessions provided opportunities to participate using our fantastic range of instruments and included demonstration performances of selections from the wide range of music suitable for classical guitar by Will and two of his advanced students.
The first session was for those who had recently – or not yet! – started playing any type of guitar (classical, acoustic or electric). The second session was primarily for players with some experience of playing acoustic or electric guitar in non-classical styles and included invaluable advice on overcoming the barriers faced when taking up the classical instrument and its repertoire (reading staff notation, fingerpicking, melodic and polyphonic playing, etc.)
Learn to Play Day is a nationwide event encouraging people all around the UK to take up an instrument, or to return to an instrument they used to play. It has been organised annually since 2012 by the charity Music for All and is supported by the likes of Aled Jones, Gareth Malone OBE, Gordon Giltrap and patron Jools Holland.
Here at Forsyth we were delighted to host another fun weekend open to everyone who wanted a free taster lesson on a musical instrument. We were fortunate to have a roster of inspiring volunteer teachers – Forsyth staff, local teachers and students from The Royal Northern College of Music among others – to give motivating introductory lessons on Piano, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Ukulele, Recorder, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Saxophone, Bassoon, French Horn, Trumpet, Cornet, Trombone, Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass and Harp.
We are already looking forward to hosting the event next year: we'll post the dates as soon as they are announced, but if you would like to register your interest in a lesson on a particular instrument, please get in touch with us via 0161 834 3281 (extension 204) or [email protected]
In the meantime, we're always happy to demonstrate and let you try instruments in our shop, and we hold a series of other introductory and more advanced workshops throughout the year: just keep an eye on our Events pages!
The wonderful Susan Bettaney returned to host her latest free workshop for the European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA). This workshop was for young pianists and adult amateurs to gain experience of performing in front of a supportive audience. The next EPTA event at Forsyth will be 'Contemporary Chinese Piano Pieces for Teaching and Performing' presented by Susan Chan on Sunday 3 September 2017.
We were delighted to be invited back to exhibit our extensive selection of ukuleles, sheet music and all things ukulele at this year's Grand Northern Ukulele Festival in Huddersfield. As ever, it was a brilliant weekend of fun and a great opportunity for ukulele enthusiasts to enjoy meeting each other.
We were delighted to welcome Ben Richards and his Meetup group Let's Play The Piano! to Forsyth for their first session at Forsyth. It was the latest in their popular series of events, which provide invaluable opportunities for adult pianists to perform – and for music-lovers to hear – a wide variety of music in a friendly, supportive environment. They are set to be regular guests with events here every couple of months so keep an eye on our Events pages!
We were excited to welcome Mike Jackson - author of the Uke'n Play Ukulele series and one of the most popular Australian children’s entertainers and music educators - for a very special free ukulele workshop, in which he had an enthusiastic capacity crowd of all ages from 4 to 'mature' playing along with him in only 40 minutes!
To raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) in memory of her mother Bernadette, who passed away last year after battling with MND, Emily announced she would be shaving her head. And having reached her £750 target, it took place right here in Forsyth's shop window! Her hair was donated to the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children suffering with illnesses that cause hair loss.
For many of us, improvisation is shrouded in mystery: either you can do it or you can’t. But like every other facet of music-making, it is simply a skill acquired and developed gradually over time with experience and guidance. Improvisation can be learned – and it can be taught. We invited our customers to come and find out how!
We are very grateful to Elena Cobb and Andrew Higgins for spending the day with us and inspiring so many people to shed their inhibitions and start improvising. Two of the UK’s finest practitioners in this field, Elena and Andrew are both pianists and teachers who believe that improvisation is not a specialist activity for a few advanced musicians but an essential part of everyone's musical development from the outset.
We were delighted to be asked back to take part in the Craig Ogden Guitar Weekend at the Bridgwater Hall in Manchester. Hundreds of guitar enthusiasts gathered to listen and take part in a weekend of guitar concerts, workshops and talks.
This year our Christmas Shopping Weekend coincided with Small Business Saturday, the national campaign to encourage all of us to get out on the high street and support the small businesses in our communities. Many customers came ad enjoyed live music, complementary mulled wine and mince pies as well as in-store discounts. Watch out for a similar event in the run up to next Christmas!
We hosted a free workshop at Forsyths by the European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA) on 19th November. This workshop was for 'Young Performers' to help with their performance in front of an audience and to gain friendly helpful advice on their performance from Susan Bettaney. Players had the opportunity to perform on a Schimmel grand piano as part of this participative workshop.
Our workshops with Anthony Williams discussed the musical awareness and skills a musician needs to support and enhance musical progress and independence. He explain the relevance of assessing aural, sight reading and scales and explore teaching strategies and technology that can be used to enhance an instrumental/vocal lesson or a student’s practice. The workshop was so popular with teachers and students alike we ended up running the session twice to capacity crowds. We hope to be doing something similar with the ABRSM in 2017 - watch out for details!
We were delighted to be supporting the Chethams' Piano Summer School for the 9th year by providing a dedicated sheet music and recordings shop at the School as well as sponsoring the school by providing 12 top quality Schimmel, Yamaha and Kawai pianos for master classes, teaching and practice rooms. We also provided behind the scenes tours of our piano workshops on the 18th and 24th of August for participants which were well attended and lasted much longer than we anticipated given the interest and enthusiasm of the participants.
Chethams' Piano Summer School has grown into an internationally recognised centre of excellence for teaching and performance. The enthusiasm of the participants and staff is infectious - so much so that many participants come back year after year. The star studded faculty of teachers speaks for itself. Take a look at the Summer School's website for further information Chethams' Piano Summer School 2016.
We were delighted to have been invited to bring an all things 'Ukulele music shop' to the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival in Huddersfield again. It was a fun, if exhausting weekend with lots of interest in our wide range of stock from books to vintage ukuleles! We'll be back again next year so keep your eyes open for further details on the event website.
To find out more about this 'totally immersive' Ukulele event visit the website http://northernuke.com/
Thank you to everyone who came to Learn to Play Day at Forsyths on Saturday. It was a great success with over 80 individual lessons given as well as two group ukulele sessions. We'd also like to thank all the University of Manchester students who came to help with the teaching - we couldn't have done it without you! It was really quite an inspirational event - marvellous to give the opportunity to such a wide range of enthusiastic people and hopefully inspire some to carry on with learning a new instrument.
Learn to Play Day is a national initiative encouraging everyone to take up a new instrument regardless of age and musical experience. Music shops throughout the UK are throwing open their doors to give everyone an opportunity to try a new instrument. Here at Forsyths this was our third year taking part. It is an exciting and busy day with lots going on throughout the store with lots of our offices and store rooms temporarily being co-opted as instrument teaching rooms.
We were delighted to welcome 18 piano technicians from throughtout the UK to find out more about Schimmel pianos and learn in a hands on workshop about the practical challenges of fitting and regulating dampers in grand pianos.