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We can’t wait to share our music again

by Peter Bellingham, Chief Executive
Published Tuesday 28 July 2020

There’s no doubt that for most people who work in the arts, whether artists or administrators, the worldwide shutdown has been one of the most challenging periods of our careers. Sadly, it looks very unlikely that we will be able to return to live performances during 2020. But we do hope to be back next year, and in the meantime we’ve a digital performance series for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own home.

Sinfonia Cymru’s core purpose is to give the UK’s most talented young classical musicians the very best start to their professional careers and to share their outstanding music-making to audiences across Wales, and sometimes beyond. This work is going to be even more important now than ever before, as young musicians have been particularly affected by the impact of Coronavirus.

Our players are all freelance musicians, working for many different organisations, usually with a mix of live performances, recordings, and teaching. Many have fallen through the cracks of the self-employment support schemes and for some, this has led them to re-evaluate whether a career as an orchestral musician is a viable one. The sooner we can start to employ these talented young people again, the better.

Some people say that all businesses are in the same position and the arts are no different; however, the stringent government restrictions are providing some big challenges for our industry, such as:

  1. Music and theatre venues were among the first businesses to shut down and will be one of the last to start up again;
  2. On the stage, it is likely that the increased distancing requirements for wind, brass and singers, even strings, will render some performances impossible for venues and smaller community halls;
  3. In the auditorium, concerns about the financial viability of reduced capacities have been widely voiced, but what will the experience will be like, both for artists and audience, with a hall of half empty seats?

It begs  the question, why are social distancing requirements so inconsistent? Passengers can sit on a plane, a confined space for a long period of time, without social distancing measures; however, large auditoriums are held to a different standard.

In the face of adversity, many organisations are finding new and creative ways to support our musicians, keep our industry moving, and keep performances alive.

So, what does Sinfonia Cymru have to offer in the coming months? On this new website you can experience Musicians in Lockdown, which features our string quartet version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Can’t Stop. We’ll be adding to this shortly with an iconic Aretha Franklin number, Say A Little Prayer. You can also look back at some of our Curate performances from 2019; hear extracts from Helen Wilson’s climate challenge-inspired People, Planet, Profit and Abel Selaocoe’s African-influenced MotherTongue.

Later in the autumn we’ll be launching a new digital series In Conversation, where Sinfonia Cymru’s leader Caroline Pether takes the role of talk show host; her guests include conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy, violinists Simmy Singh and Roberto Ruisi, and board member Simone Willis.

At the moment, we plan to bring back live performances in 2021 with some exciting soloists and we will be celebrating our 25th birthday year!  This is just a taster of what’s to come, and we’ll be announcing more of our plans in early September, so look out for further news.

Our talented young musicians can’t wait to perform for you again and to share our music with you. In the meantime, if you would like to contribute to the musicians’ support and development, we have a shiny new ‘donate’ button on our website just waiting to be pressed!


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