Cobweb News

I hope you’ve had a good few weeks and have really enjoyed the lovely weather. We’re now issuing Cobweb News every fortnight so they are tending to be quite long. I hope you continue to enjoy reading these, and we keep you connected to each other and your music during this time.  We have two more events to offer you, plus some updates from Andy Jackson and some of our members, so grab a cuppa and enjoy!


In this weeks Cobweb News:
Cobweb Orchestra Musical Book Club
Cobweb Orchestra Concert Party!
Cobwebs is Expanding – a note from Andy Jackson
News from The Groups
Connecting People through Music

Cobweb Orchestra Musical Book Club
Thursday 11th June, 6 pm
£4 Members, £5 Non Members
TO ENROL, Please click here

Any Cobweb player is invited to join the Musical Book Club, even if you haven;t already been part of it. We’ll meet online to discuss a piece of music.This week’s Book Club will begin with us playing the music, then we’ll discuss it, then we’ll play it again. All on mute, of course.

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.

The work to be played and discussed will be Mendelssohn Symphony No. 4 “Italian” 4th Movement. You’ll be sent the music beforehand with rehearsal markings. It is your responsibility to make sure you have this available to you for the meeting.

Previous participants of the Book Club have said the following, so why not join them next time?
“Very much enjoyed the Music Book Club.”

“Very liberating just to concentrate on the reaching rehearsal marks and not worrying about the notes.”

“It was lovely to see everyone.”

“So much better with Andy singing”

“A very novel experience.”

“It was good fun. I’m looking forward to next time.”

Cobweb Orchestra Concert Party! 
Saturday 4th July, 7 pm
FREE – Donations are gratefully received
To enrol, please click here

On Saturday 4th July, we will host our very first Virtual Concert Party, celebrating the music of our players.

Cobweb players can sign up to perform a solo they’ve been working on, from the comfort of their own home, to an audience of supportive, friendly faces.

We’re looking for both performers and audience members!

For those of you who feel like you’d like to perform, but at a later date, can sign up too, but we hope that by setting this date 4 weeks in advance it’ll give players enough time to practice something.

The event will take place on Zoom, and Lorna will send a meeting link a few days before the event, and performers will get a chance to ‘sound check’ beforehand.

If anyone has any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Cobwebs is Expanding!
Andy Jackson

Well, would you believe it, during these past weeks when we’ve not been able to play live music, we are attracting new participants and reconnecting with people who used to play with us.
The reason – the internet is not dependent on geography. People can communicate and participate wherever they live and regardless of their ability to travel.
Cobwebs is not a parochial, or even regional organisation and, over the years we’ve visited many different parts of the UK and several other European countries, but since lockdown started, our geographical reach has extended in all directions. We’ve been in contact with people from the West Country, the Home Counties, Tasmania and Brazil.
At the musical book club last week, I was delighted to meet up with Emily again. She used to play cello with us when she lived in the North East, but moved to the other end of the country 12 years ago. It was lovely to see Stephanie from Brighton there too.

The Cobweb Virtual Orchestra has been joined by instrumentalists who played with us in the past, but now live elsewhere, such as Elizabeth from Oxford and Priscilla from Tasmania. Kathy lives somewhere in the South East and can usually only join us a few times a year, but now she can be involved in everything we do.
New players from here, there and everywhere are becoming part of Cobwebs too. So welcome to Sally and Chris from Somerset, Davi from Brazil and Katy, Kate and Warwick from ….. well, I’m not sure where you’re all from. I think you’re new to Cobwebs, but might be from absolutely anywhere. That’s a thing about the internet: E-mail addresses and social media pages aren’t location specific.
Anyway, if you are getting involved with Cobwebs for the first time, let us know where you’re based. It’s really interesting to know how wide our web is spreading.


News from The Groups – Tyneside
Claire Wipat
Last night I went for a bike ride to the coast with my two children and we stopped for Minchella’s ice cream. My son announced that it was 70 days since he’d last had an ice cream here when he’d gone on his way home after his school was closed suddenly due to covid-19. That was also the day our first Summerhill rehearsal was cancelled. In some ways 10 weeks has flown by but it also seems an infinitely long time since we were all playing together. I can’t even remember what we were playing now!

We too have set up a Whatsapp group as a way to keep in touch although we haven’t been adventurous enough to set up Zoom meetings. We have been busy though and as you know our flute player Jim was one of the instigators of our Virtual Cobweb Orchestra. Our Whatsapp chat around this focused on the break neck speed of the piece, our lack of ability to play all the notes and the joy that Jim had promised to edit out my duff notes. Peninnah also pointed out the extra technical complications that she had to contend with as a trombone player and the dangers of trying to watch the conductor while not sending the music or recording device flying with the trombone slide! We were all impressed with the final result and were pleased to have made it into Making Music’s first virtual concert. If you missed is you can watch on their YouTube channel. It’s worth watching just to see Emma’s wig in our introduction to the Cobweb orchestra!  Some of us have signed up for the virtual encore too and we are looking forward to seeing what magic Jim can pull off with this one!

As well as posting one or two political memes and jokes we have also been sharing various musical items of interest. These range from the Royal ballet streamings to our own attempts at solo-group playing and clips of  family members entertaining us on harp and percussion (not at the same time!).

Lovely as it is to keep in touch this way, we are all missing seeing each other; playing as an ensemble and not to mention eating cake together. Andy has laid down the gauntlet via our Whatsapp group to start thinking about the logistics of when we can start playing together whilst staying safe. It is safe to say that loads of ideas have not been forth coming but our Whatsapp members have already discussed an article in the guardian where a professor of fluid mechanics looked at the airflow from different instruments. One of his conclusions was “The large wind instruments like the horn were not dangerous but the flute could be, it turned out”. Who would have thought that a flute could be an instrument of mass destruction?

Finally, we do hope we can come out of lockdown with a grand plan for playing together again as one of our members put it “Doing nothing is very hard to do…You never know when you are finished!”

Connecting People through Music
Jane Halnan

In February of this year, I was lucky enough to land the gig of representing Cobwebs at an event hosted by St. Agnes Community Centre for Music & the Arts, and the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras. St. Agnes, a parent orchestra which had morphed from a children’s’ project set up along similar lines to the Sistema project, wanted to celebrate its 10th birthday, and on a grand scale, invited representatives from similar open access orchestras across the world.

The event hosted all of us in members’ own homes; and took the form of a day’s forum where ideas were exchanged on each other’s musical ventures, and the embryo of an exchange programme began to grow. Groups from across the world ranged from a group in Houston wanting to establish a late starters orchestra, who had flown in to look at what we do here, to a fledgling group of 6 in Belgium, to our own amazing and flourishing organisation, soon to be 25, comprising of 9 groups and over 400 players. The event involved some 90 of us, coming together to play (of course) and culminated in a concert attended and supported by the President of Ireland, amongst others!

I returned home full of huge enthusiasm to share with us all the possibilities of an exchange programme – a very simple model having been worked up during the weekend, only to encounter lockdown some 2 weeks later!

As for all of us, this has led to a complete re-ordering of our way of life, and I have spent the last couple of months simply trying to maintain some semblance of normality, balancing work alongside caring for my son.

What keeps us sane/motivated during these extraordinary times? For me, once again, it has been the power of music. I took up the violin during a very dark period of my life, having been widowed relatively young, and it was connecting both to music, and finding an amazingly supportive group of likeminded people, (who excused my bum notes!), who helped me through. Last weekend, I joined an online forum again initiated by St. Agnes parent orchestra, who invited all of us who attended in February to share our thoughts on ways to keep connected during these difficult times.

There were many and varied experiences, the US groups in particular have been completely offline, but groups in Europe are beginning to re-emerge and beginning to play together once again, albeit in a socially distanced way. Ireland and UK groups seem similar to our own, where they have initiated individual playing opportunities online, then ‘splicing’ together to form a complete performance. There were many instances of social opportunities – quizzes/book clubs/musical appreciation, reaching out to those living on their own and/or ‘shielding’ as well as a lot of individual lessons and sectional technique sessions all being held online. The first of these online exchanges culminated in a notice of the celebration of World Music Day on June 21st – a rendition of ‘Bring Me Sunshine’, more details to follow (although know Tracy is already ‘on it’!) These international opportunities are intended to continue bi-monthly; a fantastic opportunity to shed some light and good cheer for the potential of music making during these difficult days, but also to plan for when we can all get together once again to connect through the power of music.

All best wishes to all, Jane x

Well, if you made it to here, congratulations, and thank you for your perseverance. Just a final reminder that you can get involved with Making Music’s Virtual Ensemble for Make Music Day, their deadline is June 8th! For more information, click here. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing your sign ups for our next two great events.

Best wishes,
Lorna Wright
Event Coordinator, Cobweb Orchestra

Posted by Tracy Reed