ABRSM Launches Exciting New Bowed Strings Syllabuses: More Choice, More Diversity, More Inspiration!

A shanty by one of Britain’s brightest new composers, the Waltz from Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty and a song from a Japanese anime movie are amongst highlights of ABRSM’s new Bowed Strings syllabuses designed to give candidates more choice of genre, composer and musical culture than ever.

The new syllabuses mean that many ABRSM Bowed Strings grades now feature more pieces, with traditional favourites like Au Chanson de Nuit and Humoresque alongside newly-featured pieces, including commissions by composers like Althea Talbot-Howard and stars from ABRSM’s composer mentoring programme.

Head of Learning & Qualifications Ali Bowen-Davies said:

“We are thrilled to launch our new Bowed Strings syllabus. The repertoire lists have expanded to offer more choice than ever before, with new exciting discoveries alongside familiar favourites. There is more incredible music so whether you’re on Initial Grade Violin or Grade 5 Cello, taking Practical or Performance Grades, there are wonderful pieces to inspire your learning journey.”

Highlights from the new repertoire lists include:

  • Tchaikovsky’s Waltz from The Sleeping Beauty (Grade 5, Cello)
  • Shanty for Ludwig (Grade 3, Violin) by James B Wilson and Lake of Ice (Grade 2, Violin) by Shruthi Rajasekar. Both musicians are alumni of ABRSM’s composer mentoring programme
  • The Knights Pavane (Initial Grade, Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass) by Althea Talbot-Howard
  • Vivace by Veracini (Grade 4, Violin)
  • The Legend of Ashitaka (Grade 4, Violin) from the Studio Ghibli anime film, Princess Mononoke
  • Beethoven’s Écossaise in G (Grade 2, Violin)
  • African Dance No.2 by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (Grade 8, Violin) Romance by Amy Beach (Grade 8, Violin)

The composer mentoring programme was launched two years ago to promote opportunities for composers from backgrounds which are currently under-represented in Western classical music. Writing music for ABRSM’s syllabuses is just one of these opportunities.

Programme alumnus and syllabus contributor James B Wilson said:

“I’ve composed a piece called ‘A Shanty for Ludwig,’ which playfully looks back at one of Beethoven’s most famous symphonies. It’s a delightful mix of Beethoven-inspired music with a touch of maritime flavour. I’m really hoping it will catch the attention of many performers who would love to bring it to life.”

The new Bowed Strings syllabuses is available now and comes into effect on 1 January 2024. However, a one year overlap for all countries, means that candidates can continue to use the 2020-2023 syllabuses until 31 December 2024.