#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

Newsletter 38

Attached is Newsletter 38, which contains the most up-to-date listings of Cobwebs events. Please note;
the Teesside group starts on September 24th
new dates are given in red

the new enrolment procedures (gone is the ticklist)
Please ring or email if you have any questions.
Newsletter 38

Posted by Liz Carlile in General, Newsletters

Newsletter 37 / Cobwebs Summer Programme

Well, the Prom weekend was something of a success and it was a great thrill to perform with Catherine Bott, who was delightful company as well as being a wonderful singer. She complimented the orchestra on how well we accompanied, especially that we actually listened to her, which is not always the case with professional orchestras. I’ve already heard a recording of the concert made by hospital radio and I think we sound fantastic.
There are a few Cobweb events taking place over the coming weeks (for instance in Gateshead on Saturday 4th August and in Middlesbrough on Saturday 11th August) which I’d like to encourage you to come to and tell all your friends about. Some of the events, such as the Intermediate Orchestra sessions, are particularly aimed at people who play an instrument, but may not have an orchestra in which to play it. If anyone of your acquaintance is in this unfortunate position, let them know about Cobwebs.
There is also a meeting of the Guinea Pig Orchestra, and we are putting on a few concerts, including one at Durham Cathedral on August 24th , which David Hutton has kindly agreed to organise and conduct as Liz and I will both be in Tuscany at the time. Then, in early September, a small group of players have been invited back to play at the Weardale Festival.
A completely new venture this year is the TUTTI orchestra. The idea is that absolutely anyone who wants to, whether they can play an instrument or not, should become part of an instant orchestra (as big as possible) giving a short, completely unrehearsed performance in a public place. The inaugural appearance of this new ensemble will be in Middlesbrough Centre Square to round off the Community Music Day we are running at the Town Hall.
Finally, once most people are back from their holidays, there is a very unusual event which would benefit from a small orchestra. For several months I have been working with staff and students from Newcastle University Linguistics Department and students from Tyneside secondary schools on a project snappily entitled “Setting language research to music”. It is now reaching its (possibly) final stage (well, it is research so there’s no knowing what might happen after), which entails a performance at The Sage Gateshead on Tuesday 11th September.
Please look at the newsletter for details of all these events and put them in your diary if you are interested.
Liz will start sending out enrolment forms shortly.
Newsletter 37

Posted by Liz Carlile in General, Newsletters