Welcome back to my website and blog. Thanks for your feedback and positivity in this new venture! Since my last post, I have had family and friends who are professional musicians return to work playing with various orchestras which has been really encouraging to see. Being Artistic Director of your own organisation such as NEW Sinfonia has given me an outlet to channel my energy, creativity and time. In my first post I stressed the need for organisations to work together as we face challenges exposed by COVID 19. In North Wales, I am proud to be part of a team effort injecting fresh energy into the region.
NEW Sinfonia are orchestra in residence at the North Wales International Music Festival (NWIMF). Earlier this year things looked pretty bleak, but partners have instinctively come together to find a way forward. Along with the NEW Sinfonia team (Jon Guy and Bethan Griffiths), we have had partner meetings with representatives from the NWIMF, Ensemble Cymru, Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (CGWM) and Denbighshire Music Cooperative (DMC). This has proven to be a healthy cross representation of organisations based in North Wales and the result is we have a festival!
My involvement includes:
A one hour orchestra concert for an orchestra of 18 socially distanced musicians, filmed and recorded from St Asaph Cathedral (fingers crossed - if not from our homes). Repertoire is still to be decided as we don’t yet know if we can have wind and brass players. Sadly we cannot have an audience, but we will be able to reach out to our audience and beyond with the concert video to be released during the festival. I am really pleased we can give work to our incredible freelance musicians who have been affected so badly during this time.
Recycle percussion project - an education project for the year 5 class at Ysgol Esgob Morgan in St Asaph. We will be leading group workshops with our percussionists for the children, exploring house hold recycling, creating percussion instruments from these materials and musical ensemble skills.
Our latest instrument workshop is called ‘Vision of fire’. In partnership with NWIMF, CGWM and DMC, I will be leading an instrumental workshop over two weeks in September. These are open to all young people who play an instrument of any ability up to the age of 18. You can sign up here. We have already had a strong uptake, so please book now to secure a place.
Chamber music performance with three of our key players which will form part of the chamber music celebration and be released during the festival.
Have you seen this video from our project last year?
Ways to reach out
Oh yes, I said a ghost - Pepper’s Ghost. I want to find a user friendly, cost effective method to make our music making more accessible. The Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund have funded the Centre of Excellence in Mobile and Emerging Technologies (CEMET) at the University of South Wales to work with small enterprises in Wales. We have had workshops with their expert tech team to explore possible solutions. All of our ideas regarding VR and AR technology proved to be impractical for the time being, but we came full circle to exploring a possible solution from Mr Pepper devised in 1862! Check it out here!
Can we get a recording through a projector, to then project a full size orchestra into a hospital, school or care home? Or can an audience sit and watch a projection when there is no live orchestra, which might feel closer to real life done like this? Well later this month, our team are going to try it out! Can you help us? Do you have your own ideas?
Amongst all this, we are converting NEW Sinfonia from a Community Interest Company into a fully fledged CIO charity. Progress has been made with plans for our disabled musicians network in partnership with Disability Arts Cymru (DAC). I am delighted Lloyd Coleman will be joining NEW Sinfonia for our online workshops featuring our own musicians. These will be streamed online and available on my YouTube page. More information coming soon! Did you see our latest release?
Personally, the last few weeks has seen some ups and downs: sadly I have had concerts into 2021 being cancelled and like for many of us, there remains a great deal of uncertainty. I really feel for our community and amateur music scene - choirs, orchestras, brass bands etc. These people and organisations LOVE their work, create opportunity, bring people together, represent their community and support our concerts through buying a ticket, sponsoring a player and engaging online. The pros are going back, but for everyone else it is even further away - how can we help these people and organisations stay positive and get back to doing what they love? Who is shouting? Anyway, that is for next time.