Jean Kelly, administrator and active member of Nottingham Philharmonic Orchestra, talks to us about her group's experience of putting on a socially-distanced, COVID-secure concert before the second lockdown in England
Having not met since mid-March, our primary aim when we approached autumn was simply to get the Nottingham Philharmonic Orchestra together to do some playing. It soon became apparent that there was a very real opportunity to stage a concert, so we grabbed it with both hands!
After a couple of weeks of extensive planning and risk assessment with our venue and music director, Mark Heron, we finally met for our first rehearsal in six months. Getting used to the new orchestra setup was quite a task, but our players rose to the challenge and our talented conductor was able to tweak how we played on or after the beat to keep it all together.
NPO present Strauss, Elgar & Dvorak at the Albert Hall, Nottingham on 10 October 2020
The end result was just incredible and so worthwhile. Everyone was so grateful to get back to doing some playing that the minor inconveniences of wearing a mask and social distancing were inconsequential. Judging by the standing ovation we got from the sold-out audience, they seemed to agree. Quite simply, there is no substitute for live music and the concert brought home to all of us how music is meant to be played and enjoyed together.
Getting used to the new orchestra setup was quite a task, but our players rose to the challenge and our talented conductor was able to tweak how we played on or after the beat to keep it all together
The whole experience has strengthened the relationship between the NPO and its conductor, its management and its audience. We don’t underestimate how lucky we were to be able to do this, and we feel for those professional musicians who are still unable to perform to live audiences. Our planned November concert fell victim to the second lockdown, but we are hopeful that we might be able to perform it in early 2021, and experience the magic all over again.
Has your group managed to stage a COVID-secure performance? If you'd like to write a blog about your experiences, or you have any pictures of online/in-person activity you'd like to share, get in touch