June 2020. PCO on hold.
Today is the 9th of June, and the world is still in the midst of the Corona virus pandemic. At the end of March, just as our embryonic community orchestra was beginning to jell into a cohesive entity, having a core of regular players, the world came to a stop as Covid 19 ravaged The United Kingdom.
We were starting to sound like an ensemble, playing and listening to each other like members of an established group. We were looking to the future, and thinking about holding our first public performance. Now we are in limbo. No rehearsals, no chats over coffee during the half time break. I’ve had messages from members telling me how much they are missing PCO. Hopefully we will be back meeting again in the autumn.
I thought I’d write a brief outline of what PCO has achieved so far since our very first tentative meeting of about nine people, at the beginning of 2018, at Ken Stimpson School, Peterborough. O’h how I wish we had some audio recordings from those first days, to compare with the sound we made after two years together. Most members were, and still are, ‘returners’. Most hadn’t played for decades, or had never played in a group before. I think most of us were very rusty and very nervous.
We met at Ken Stimpson School for over a year, gaining a small core of regular players, while others came and left, deciding that this new group was not for them. In those early stages, we were helped financially by Peterborough Music Hub. We remain grateful to the hub for the monetary springboard they gave us to get the PCO initiative off the ground.
From early 2019, the Music Hub were no longer able to help us, due to operational changes. We had to set up our own committee and go it alone. In June 2019, PCO settled into it’s new home at St. Oswald’s Church Hall, Peterborough. This is a lovely venue with good acoustics, light and space, central heating, a kitchen and off road parking. Everyone enjoys playing at our rehearsal base. During the year that followed, we gradually attracted and retained a larger nucleus of up to thirty members. We held a couple of informal performances for friends, family and anyone interested in joining us. We played short performances at Ken Stimpson School’s Musical Extravaganzas. We began to tackle more difficult pieces of music, constantly guided by our conductor/musical director, Robin Norman. We began to sound like a small orchestra, instead of a disparate group of individuals. It is difficult to quantify what I mean, but with the passing of time and with practise, our combined sound improved. We were all enjoying the social side of meeting up each week too. Meeting other amateur, hobby musicians, and making new friends is a big part of what PCO is all about. We got together for a social evening in the summer of 2019, and had drinks in the pub near our rehearsal venue before Christmas. I for one have missed my PCO buddies! Below, is a list of the music we were working on when ‘the virus’ stopped us in our tracks. This is the music we will take up once more, when we are able to get together again. 1.Pirates Of The Caribbean, Medley.
2. Le Petit Carnaval Des Animaux; Saint-Saëns.
3. Bolero; Ravel.
4. Danse Macabre; Saint-Saëns.
5. Pavane; Fauré.
6. Peer Gynt Suite No1; Grieg.