#47 The 2011 Programme

From Newsletter 47
By Andy Jackson

… well, the first few months of it, anyway.

What I really hope, (because it’s what we set out to do), is that wherever you live in the North, whatever your musical preferences are and whatever instrument you play to whatever standard, you’ll find something in here that interests you.
That’s why we have Dvorak in York, Handel in Morpeth and Sibelius in Dalston. Then there are concerts in Gateshead and Newcastle featuring Mozart and Poulenc. And, just before Easter, the Sedbergh Residential.

These weekend events give players a chance to travel throughout the region to fulfil musical aspirations and meet like-minded folk, but the bedrock of our programme is, of course, the 8 weekly local rehearsal groups, each of which has its own character depending on where it is, who turns up and who conducts it. The groups are completely autonomous, but players from them have expressed an interest in getting to know repertoire which is studied and/or performed at our weekend events, so we’re trying a couple of different ideas in the New Year.

Firstly, all groups will be have a chance at some point to play the same work: Elgar’s hugely popular “Enigma” variations, and once we’ve assessed how it’s going, we’ll think about putting it into a concert and hope that representatives from all the groups can take part in the performance with the confidence of having had the opportunity of getting to know the work over an extended period.

The second piece of programming which should make it easier for players from all the groups to come together for the same event is that each group is going to be preparing a different Beethoven symphony. Then on Monday 25th April, (yes, that’s Easter Monday 2011), we’re going to play all 9 of them in Middlesbrough Town Hall, starting at 11am and polishing off one an hour until we round off the evening with the “Choral”, unless we collapse from exhaustion first.

I hope everyone will make an effort to be in Middlesbrough for this historic occasion, and bring lots of well-wishers to join in, or to listen and socialise in the gaps between the symphonies. Even though each of the symphonies will have been prepared, there is no way that they can be rehearsed in any detail immediately prior to playing them, so the day will consist of a series of informal presentations rather than polished performances.

I suppose some purists might think of this event as a bit of a gimmick, (and we’re aware that it might bring us some publicity), but there is an element of serious musicological engagement here too: participants will have the chance to experience from the inside Beethoven’s development from talented youngster to mature genius.

No apologies for dwelling on this event: it’s a huge undertaking and we need as many players as possible to come along to help us bring it off. We’ll need to play in relay teams, I suspect, though anyone who fancies playing all nine won’t be discouraged from having a go.

Start training now.

Posted by Catherine Shackell