Cobweb News

In this weeks Cobweb News
Cobweb Virtual Orchestra
Cobweb Musical Book Club and a Message from Andy
A message from the Trustees

You’ll be delighted to hear that we have successfully created the ‘Cobweb Virtual Orchestra’ and the video is almost ready for you to view. Before I say any more, we must give a huge thanks to Jim Dunleavy for putting the video together and guiding us through the technicalities. Well done to all of you who took part. There’s more information below, plus the crucial link to see the video.

You’ll see further below that we are trying out another online musical venture: The Cobweb Orchestra Musical Book Club. But this is just the beginning, and we’d love to hear from you. Please do let me know by replying to this if you have any ideas for The Cobweb Orchestra that Andy and I can explore to take forward during this uncertain time. We have already seen some fantastic suggestions come through on the Facebook group, so please, this is your time to have your say. We can’t promise to be able to do everything, but we know there are good ideas out there! What are your other music groups doing? What would you like to see? It’d be lovely to hear from you.

Cobweb Virtual Orchestra

Grab your tickets and a cuppa to tune in TONIGHT at 7.30pm for the premiere! 
The video is on You Tube and can be found here – but we’ll only be setting it live at 7.30pm tonight – just like a real concert! Plenty of time for you to share the link far and wide, to all your musical friends. The link is also available in our Facebook group ready for you to share, and on Twitter. Who knows, we might even make the local news!

For those of you who didn’t join this time, there’s a few words of feedback from two players who did, which might ease your mind a bit and encourage you to join in next time.

Firstly, from Judith (French horn)
I really wanted to have a go at the virtual orchestra – I’d been missing playing together so much. But it was a bit daunting too – one thing playing duff notes when they just disappear into the ether, another to have them recorded!
I downloaded the track of Andy conducting, as our internet isn’t reliable enough to stream it. So that was on my laptop, and I practised playing along with it – it had the click on the beat, to help you keep in time, and the melody too. So it was quite easy to play along with.  Where to do the recording – the excellent instructions said ‘not a room with lots of hard surface – we only have one room with carpet, so that decided that – it’s where I normally practice anyway. Then I needed something to record – I only had my phone, so I propped that on top of a chair – forgetting about the instruction to record landscape. Was it in the right place – switched the camera so I could see what it was seeing – OMG what a mess, quick clear away of junk in front of the camera. You have to listen to the track with Andy through headphones, so you can see him, and hear the melody and the click, but your recording won’t record that. I just have wired earbuds, so a bit of fiddling  about so that they reached me from the laptop. And then I played and recorded. Read the instructions about how to send the recordings to Jim, which was easy. And that was it. I enjoyed it, and I’m very much  looking forward to seeing/hearing the finished piece (hoping that the editor muted certain bits!)

And Claire (flute)
I was excited to see the email from Jim about the formation of the Virtual Cobweb Orchestra having been gutted that I hadn’t made it to the last possible rehearsal at Summerhill due to work commitments. I read all the requirements: broadband tick, printer tick, laptop or tablet to play YouTube videos tick and a phone or laptop to record on tick! I didn’t see any requirement to actually be able to play Rossini’s Barber of Seville overture so I thought I’d give it a go!
My enthusiasm was dampened slightly when I started to read the five pages of detailed instructions that Jim and Andy had put together and realized that I would a) have to get dressed and brush my hair and b) need a degree IT and c) be able to play Rossini’s Barber of Seville overture. Undeterred, I printed off the music, marked up all the rehearsal notes then uploaded the video of Andy conducting. Looked at my part again and realized that even with lots of practicing there was a very high chance of not hitting those very high fast notes 13 bars from the end especially following the click track which goes at quite a lick!. But hey, that the beauty of a virtual orchestra, Jim kindly offered to edit out all my fluffed notes (of which there were quite a few!). I managed to make it to the end at the same time as Andy and had managed to capture my virtuoso performance with suitable audio and visual. Spurred on by my success I recruited my reluctant husband to be an audience member. Just hope he doesn’t look too bemused or bored! Fortunately I didn’t need a degree in IT to sort my videos, just a reluctant teenager who kept uttering “Mother, I can’t believe you don’t know how to do this” in a very derogatory tone but did however, upload my videos. The following morning Jim found them in his junk mail box!
It was great fun to take part in our virtual concert and I’m intrigued to see/hear the end result. Even more excited for when we can all get together playing again.

A Message from Andy Jackson

Dear all,
Thank you so much for the overwhelming response to the announcement of my Lady Hilary Groves Award. I’ve saved, and will treasure, every e-mail, text and social media posting. It all made me quite emotional, but I’m over that now and getting on with planning the next phase of the Cobweb Orchestra’s development – how to survive the lockdown.
Some of you are already involved in Jim Dunleavy’s Cobweb Virtual Orchestra, including players from as far away as Tasmania (lovely to see you again, Priscilla). The performance is live right now (click). I hope you enjoy watching it as much as we all did making it. Jim might be persuaded to do another one, and, if so, you’ll have a chance to join in the second time around. Keep a look out for announcements in Cobweb News and respond quickly.
I’ve received several communications saying something like “I haven’t had my instrument out of its case for over 6 weeks.” One of the things the CVO players have said is that being part of the project has given them the impetus to keep playing, even doing some focused practice, and we hope to be able to roll out some other ideas and projects over the next few weeks that will give you the opportunity to play music with others, albeit at a distance or in the future.
We’re also aware that social contact is also an important part of the Cobweb Orchestra. I know that some of the regional groups are already using platforms such as WhatsApp and Zoom to keep in touch, but we’re also working on possible ways of keeping people connected across the groups. The first one is the Music Book Club. Have a read of the details below and sign up straight away if you’re interested as we intend having the first meeting next week and places will be limited.
Maybe see you there,

The Musical Book Club

What? A group of Cobweb players will meet online to discuss a piece of music. It’s the same principle as the familiar concept of a book club, except that instead of reading and talking about, for example, “Pride and Prejudice” we’ll listen to and talk about a well-known composition from the orchestral repertoire. The discussion will be facilitated by Andy Jackson and Lorna Wright will take notes which will be distributed to participants after the event. Non-participants can sign up to receive the notes too.
When? Thursday 14th May. 6.00 pm
How? We will meet on Zoom, which works on all computers, tablets and smart phones. You don’t need to have any special programmes or apps on your device to make it work, you just follow a link which will be sent to you from Lorna the day before the meeting.
What? The work to be discussed will be announced to all participants once we know there are enough to make it a going concern. You’ll be given a few days to listen to the piece and, if you want to, download the part you would normally play and practice it, or even download a score.
Cost: £4/5 (members/non-members)
Enrol: Straight away using the form here . Because of the difficulties of using Zoom for large groups, membership of the group will be limited to 25 people. However, unlike Cobweb events, where it is usually “Strictly first come on a desk by desk basis”, there is no limit to the numbers of any one instrument that can enrol, so if the first 25 attendees are all flautists and clarinettists, I’m sure that will lead to a very interesting, if slightly biased, discussion.

A message from the Trustees

Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of activity to put on hold events that we would normally run, which is sad. But now that’s been done and the trustees, Andy and Lorna have had a chance to look ahead a bit to start to plan things that we can do in our new normal. Over the next few weeks Andy and Lorna will be doing more work on that, coming up with ideas and seeing how they can make them work, building on the Virtual Orchestra and looking at different ways of doing old things as well as new ways of doing new things. They would love to hear your ideas, so if you have any please send them to
This does mean that they will be very busy though, and their time is limited, so if you have any queries or correspondence about anything else please send it to and one of the trustees will deal with it.

That was a lot, but I’m sure you’re all delighted to see what we’ve been up to and what we have planned. I look forward to hearing from you, whether it’s joining us for the Musical Book Club, offering a suggestion or joining us for the Premiere of the Cobweb Virtual Orchestra tonight at 7.30pm!

Best wishes,
Lorna Wright
Event Coordinator, Cobweb Orchestra

Posted by Tracy Reed