Catherine Shackell

#46 Hello from me….

from Newsletter 46
Catherine Shackell
Dear Cobwebbers,
As many of you know, Liz is retiring after many years dedicated work as administrator for Cobwebs, and I shall be taking over the role in September (well, the 29th August at the Hand-Over Party in Dipton to be precise). Some of you already know me as Catherine Holbrook, but I thought I’d go and do something nice and confusing, like get married and change my name, and am now Catherine Shackell.  So now everyone’s equally muddled; Andy’s asked me to tell you a little bit about myself so here goes:
Cobwebs has changed so much since I first trudged through the door of Cobwebs with my bassoon on my back 14 years ago. There was just the one group, in Annfield Plain, and a handful of study days scattered throughout the year. 4 years after that my musical studies brought me down to York, but I managed to stay in touch with Cobwebs through composing and arranging for the group of which I had grown so fond. When I eventually emerged from University as a professional musician I found that Cobwebs had grown somewhat and was on the brink of going independent. I was delighted when in 2008 Andy asked me to set up a group in York. The York group has been running for two and a half years now, we have played some fantastic music and eaten a healthy variety of cake and biscuits.  As I prepare to take on my new role of administrator for the orchestra there are 7 regular groups with a new group ready and waiting to start in Spennymoor, and multiple events running most weekends. I can’t help but wonder what’s in store for us in the next few years…  One thing’s for sure though, with Cobwebs it won’t be boring!
I know Andy and Liz have planned a great term of events for the Autumn and I’m very much looking forward to preparing for them with you all. You’ll be hearing from me again in a few weeks with more information about each of the events as they approach, but in the meantime do have a quick squiz at the events list and get some dates in your diary.
Until next time
Catherine Shackell nee Holbrook

Posted by Catherine Shackell in General, Newsletters

#46 For whom the bell rings

from Newsletter 46
I recently came across this quotation attributed to an early seventeenth century Italian writer and sometime composer – Pietro della Valle –
“ Playing on an instrument, no matter how well it’s done, when it goes on for a long time is boring; indeed it has often happened that a little bell has to be rung to make them stop”.
This made me think of what has become a central theme of Cobwebs, that music making is the important thing rather than listening to the results.
If an audience had been packed into Powell Hall at Sedbergh to listen to a complete run through of Bruckner’s third symphony there may well have been many little bells ringing (not that we would have heard them). Especially if listeners do not know the work, close to an hour of Bruckner could seem a very long time. Yet from the players perspective it flashes past.
Our 2009/10 season has included some very substantial works. In addition to Bruckner there was Mozart’s Requiem, Carmina Burana, Beethoven Piano concertos 3 and 4, Harold in Italy, Firebird, Planets, Schubert’s Great, Elgar cello concerto and Nielsen’s 3rd Symphony. Having played in most of these I can remember extreme concentration, lots of effort, satisfaction on managing to navigate particularly tricky passages, pleasure at being in the middle of a wonderful sound, but never boredom.
Maybe the concentration span of the average Italian in the 1600s was not much superior to what it is today? Probably it comes down to the difference in involvement – passive rather than active. I imagine there are many different reasons why people enjoy Cobweb events but most will agree that playing a piece of music gives a greater insight than simply listening to it.
There must surely have been many opportunities to play music in Rome during his lifetime, but Pietro may not have had the confidence or ability. If only Cobwebs had been there to help him he might have been able to dispense with his little bell!
By Howard Rocke

Posted by Catherine Shackell in General, Newsletters