It was the evening of Friday 13th March when we held our last rehearsal together. It had its usual good humour as we played through some of our library music as we tried to sort out tunes for our up coming busy season of concerts. This year we have some truly amazing concerts lined up from performing again alongside the Colchester Military Wives Choir at the Chelmsford Cathedral in June in aid of SSAFA to performing at the Stow Maries Aerodrome near Maldon. We have another performance with the Maldon Drama Group to provide music for a new show called Cable Street Blues, again written and directed by the very talented Neil Fisher and another christmas concert with the Chelmsford Male Voice Choir. Add to that another concert for Knightswood Day Care Centre in Southminster and a return to the village green at Little Totham, and we were all set for a superb year ... then everything came to a stop.
On the evening of 13th March, we were already aware of guidelines issued by the Management Committee of the West Maldon Community Centre to wash our hands on arrival and again on departure from the hall but it was clear by the beginning of the following week that we had to cease rehearsals to keep our members safe and slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Our membership includes players of all ages and backgrounds. Some have been retired for years while others are just finding their feet in the work place.
Not long into the lockdown, we decided to get around the GDPR policy by asking each of our players for their permission to share their emails around the group. This has been agreed to by about 50% of the membership and there are small groups forming who are happy to chat away over the internet. Another small group has turned to WhatsApp as we desperately try to keep in touch. A few from this group have attempted video conferencing via Zoom with varying success. Some have dusted off their 'other' instruments to get some practise in while others have set themselves the challenge of practising every day for the duration of the lockdown.
Our orchestra has been described as a family. We have a wide range of age groups with members who can boast a variety of skills. Our strength is in our membership and the amazing people who are the Maldon Orchestra.
Concerts can always be rearranged for a future date but we need to keep our family safe.
Don't let the silence get too loud.