2016 ended with a bang (literally), when one of my big gut strings decided to unexpectedly snap during a really quiet piece in a New Year eve's concert at the Bridgewater Hall. Luckily it was near the end of the concert, but I've never had such a big string go during a concert before and it was all a bit shocking, for everyone including me! What a noise!!
December 2016 has been an intense month of work with lovely people. It's such a joy to play good music, in good company. The majority of the month has been all about SNOWMAN with the wonderful talented people who run Carrot Productions.
I'm not sure who looks more scary here... me or the Snowman!!!
As well as the Snowman and seasonal favourites, this year's tour included The Nutcracker as well as a new production of Cinderalla with music brilliantly composed by Dan Whibley.
The whole ethos of the Snowman show is so brilliantly devised and produced by Rachel & Dan and involves performing to so many young children and families, many of whom will not have heard a live orchestra before. It's not often you get such job satisfaction!
We played 30 performances of the Snowman across Derbyshire, York, Hull, Sheffield as well as in Coventry and Chester Cathedrals, and finally ending at Blackpool Tower Ballroom. For me the highlight was a special performance at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.
Prior to the Snowman tour, flutist Nichola Hunter and myself had done some outreach work for Carrot Productions at the Childrens hospital as well as in a Dementia unit in Manchester.
Immediately after the Snowman finished Nichola and I did 4 performances of "a flute and harpy Christmas" which included one public performance and 3 private performances at eldery care homes in Cheshire; two of which were specialised dementia homes. Nichola is so wonderful and an absolute joy to work with and everywhere we played everyone loved her, especially when she brought out all her hand percussion for people to join in with us!
These were very special performances and although it came right at the end of a busy work schedule just before Christmas, I'm so glad we made time to do them as it was an appropriate way to "give back" to our community. It's doing these kind of performances away from the concert hall and in the community that really brings it home how important music is for the mind, body and soul.
A timely reminder that music is just magic!