Cobweb News

We’ve had a fantastic response to the CVO – Encore project, it’s going to be brilliant. We could do with a cellist/bassist or two more though, if you’re interested, take a look at the information here.

In this week’s Cobweb News:
Cobweb Musical Book Club
A note from Andy

News from The Groups
A note from Trustees
Make Music Day

Cobweb Musical Book Club 
Thursday 28th May, 6 pm – 6.45 pm
Mozart – The Marriage of Figaro Overture
£4 Members, £5 Non MembersThe book club this week will be slightly different as we are going to try and play! We’ll start the session prompt and each of us will play our own part, on mute. We will then have a discussion about the piece, and what might have gone well, or not well in your parts. With a bit of guidance, we’ll then play through the piece again. The piece this week is the Marriage of Figaro Overture, which you can find a score and your parts for by clicking here. For more information, and to enrol, please click here


A note from Andy
Thank you to those of you who got in touch with ideas of what we might do during this time of limbo (some might call it purgatory).
Here are three that we’ll try to facilitate if there’s enough interest.
1) “Music by Heart”. Participants will memorise their own parts with a view to getting together and playing pieces without music when we are able to meet again in the real world. We will meet over the ether before then too to discuss tactics and repertoire and to get to know each other..
Many years ago, we had a “Music by Heart Orchestra” which played without the dots. There were around 15 players involved and we played at a concert in Morpeth and took part in a conference on “Memory”  at Newcastle University.
2) “Virtual Concert Party”. I know that some of you look forward to the Saturday evening concert party at our Sedbergh Easter Residential Weekend and often put a lot of work into preparing items to perform. Well, everyone was deprived of that particular pleasure this year, so Nikki came forward with the idea of doing it digitally.
Here is how it might work. We set a date far enough in the future to give everyone time to work on their performance and record it. Then, at a given time we all sit down with a glass of something cheerful, listen to and watch each other, then show our appreciation in whatever manner we can devise.

3) “Learn a new instrument”. This could be the perfect time to master a new skill so that when we are eventually able to play together again we are even more flexible than usual, with players migrating around the desks (whilst keeping a suitable distance away from each other) to make sure that all the parts are covered. I can think of a few ways that this might work, such as pairing up players of different instruments so that they could help each other develop a new skill, or creating online groups of people playing the same instrument. I’m sure many of you will think of more possibilities. If you don’t actually have a second instrument, the Cobwebs Instrument Bank might be able to help by loaning you one once travel restrictions are eased.If any of these ideas appeal, please get in touch. We’ll compile lists of potential participants, and, once there are enough to make it feasible, we’ll try to make it happen. Please also let us know if you have ideas of your own that you think might interest other players.

News from The Groups
A new feature of Cobweb News, we’ll give you an update on what each of the groups are getting up to.
The York Group: 
It was with a heavy heart that, at very short notice, the final two sessions of term, the infamous end-of-term party and the much-anticipated Strauss event all had to be cancelled. We immediately set up a York Cobweb Orchestra WhatsApp group, which attracted 31 participants and has provided a useful way for members of the group to stay in touch. Most touchingly have been the interactions on Wednesday evenings, with jokes around our usual tea break time about which biscuits we are all eating and whether they are safely wrapped, but also the sharing of more ‘serious’ musical experiences as well as the inevitable humorous videos has kept us smiling during these strange and challenging times.
Rather than going down the line of virtual rehearsals, which we thought could be quite a challenge, we decided to try holding a Cobweb ‘Cwiz’, the first of which was timed to coincide with what would have been our first week back for the summer term. Thirty five of us Zoomed in to have our general knowledge tested by Cwiz master Simon (oboe), who had come up with the Cwiz’s quirky name and had kindly offered to set the questions, and like the music at our weekly sessions, pretty challenging they were too! We might have hoped that the music round would help, but I’m not sure we excelled ourselves at recognising statues of famous composers, although there was at least a glimmer of hope with the question about how many crotchets there are in a semibreve (I noticed that Patrick didn’t let on whether he got that one right ;-)). Well done to Jan (horn), who was crowned ‘Cobweb Cwiz Champion’ of the week.
A good time was had by all, no doubt helped a little by having a glass or two of something at the ready, and the evening was deemed a success. Even if we couldn’t answer all the questions, it was great fun and really lovely to see everyone again and have a bit of banter. With that in mind, and since many of us felt that we could do with brushing up on our general knowledge, we agreed to meet regularly every fortnight for more ‘Cwizing’. Our second ‘Cobweb Cwiz’ was set by the previous winner Jan (horn), aided and abetted by Tony (all things brass). Thirty five of us Zoomed in, the same number as the previous week, but like our rehearsals with a different subset of ‘instruments’. The questions were attractively presented as a slideshow, which helped with any audio difficulties, and they were interesting, fun and dare I say it quite ‘educational’. Now who was it who thought that Cremona was particularly famous for ice cream….? Not a string player obviously!
We’re already looking forward to our next Cwiz, which is being set by Sam (oboe). It’s never a good idea to win! It really is great to see people, and the combination of WhatsApp and the fortnightly Cwizes seems to provide a useful and popular way for the group to stay in touch socially. Who knows what we might try next!
As usual, we post pictures and accounts of what we are doing on Facebook to keep in touch with the wider Cobweb community, and several of our players were brave enough to play in the first virtual Cobweb performance, which others of us enjoyed seeing and listening to. Well done everyone who performed! We understand that there’s another virtual performance coming up, so you may see some of us there. In the meantime, we send our warmest good wishes to everyone in the Cobweb community.
If any of the other groups have been busy staying connected, let me know so we can feature you next time!


A note from Trustees 

The Cobweb Trustees have been giving considerable thought to the organisation’s activities and finances, in particular to ensure that we continue as best we can during lockdown and so that we will be ready to restart again, whenever and however that may be. Unfortunately, our normal events, group meetings and residentials have had to be cancelled, and as a result Andy and Lorna’s hours have been significantly cut to reflect the reduced workload. They still need to plan and prepare, of course, for when we are able to resume activities. In addition you will be aware of some of the exciting new virtual activities that we have been trying out, aimed at keeping us together both musically & socially. Our group leaders’ contracts have been suspended and room hire for our groups and events has been cancelled, all of which has enabled us to reduce our costs to a minimum. We are very pleased that many members have chosen to renew their annual membership fees and/or made a donation to Cobwebs. The Trustees recognise that times are difficult for everyone and we are very grateful to each of you. Cobwebs is a charitable organisation, and any contributions, however small, will help enable us to resume our more usual activity when the time comes. Making a donation is of course entirely voluntary, and there is no obligation to do so. 

Lockdown donations

Sort Code – 08 92 99 Account – 65240698. Please mark as “Donation”.

Those whose annual memberships are due for renewal will probably already have been informed and can decide whether they wish to continue their membership at this time. If you felt able to do so that would be much appreciated and you should use the same bank account, marked as “Membership”.
If anyone prefers to pay by cheque, please make these payable to “The Cobweb Orchestra” and mail to
Cobweb Orchestra,
5 Valeside,
Newcastle upon Tyne,
NE15 9LA.

Finally, we hope that you are staying well and thank you for you continuing support.


If you’d like something else to be getting involved with, check out Making Music’s contribution to this year’s ‘Make Music Day’ where they’re inviting you to join them in a digital collaboration of ‘Bring me Sunshine’. Find out more here.

Posted by Tracy Reed