Similar to the majority of live acts around the country, the New Note Orchestra had to put their live performances on hold during the restrictions of 2020 and 2021 designed to control the transmission of covid-19. Though measures were necessary, it was still a difficult time for those around the county whose jobs, social lives and even recovery programs depended on being able to partake in live events. Thankfully, 2022 has been a year of triumphant returns, as artists and audiences have flocked back to the concert venues they love. For the New Note Orchestra it was no different.
Back on stage
On the 14th and 15th July, the New Note Orchestra returned to the Old Market to perform their new show – A Green Recovery. After months of writing and rehearsing, the 50 min show was performed over two nights, the second night to a sold out crowd. The orchestra shared the stage with community choirs Wham Jam Thank You Man, on the Thursday night and The Jam Tarts on the Friday night, both of whom gave exhilarating performances.
Although there are no longer covid restrictions in place, New Note was still impacted by the virus. Two key members, hand bell player Dawn and guitarist Crispin, were unable to perform, having tested positive days before the performance. Though missed, their parts were valiantly covered by Molly and Dele on the hand bells, and Matt covering Crispin’s lead lines. Despite having less than a week they all nailed their parts.
The performances were introduced by Councillor Lizzie Deane, the current Mayor of Brighton & Hove, who has chosen the New Note Orchestra as one of the 2022/23 mayoral charities. Commenting on the great work organisations like New Note do to help people experiencing addiction, she urged people to donate a bit of extra cash following the performance. Lizzie also sang on Friday night as part of Wham Jam Thank You Ma’am.
Live and let live
The performance was well received, with audience members commenting on how well the spoken word pieces blended with the musical sections, the quality of the compositions and arrangements and the conviction and passion with which the orchestra played. They also gave generously, and the orchestra raised some £2000 over the two nights just on donations. But more importantly, the experience for the members of the orchestra, a couple of whom had never played live with the group before, was a highly positive one.
James, keyboardist with orchestra said, “Playing live feels quite different to when we play together in rehearsals. It’s almost as if that unspoken communication between us is amplified, we’re hyper focused on listening and responding to each other, and the music feels more dynamic because of it.
For me, live performances offer the opportunity to reinforce a positive image of myself. As someone prone to anxiety, I’ve learnt that I need to continue to build positive experiences of feeling uncomfortable, so that when I’m faced with feelings of self-doubt, I can remember that it normally turns out rather well!
Being in the orchestra is more than just performing. Members of the group set up, soundcheck, move equipment, design and make costumes, do promotional work and even make each other tea. The group camaraderie is essential to the spirit of the orchestra.
“I also enjoy the hours of preparation leading up to the performance,” said James. “Even though it can be tiring with pre-performance rehearsals, sound checks, moving of equipment, etc. it’s also often full of chat and laughter.”
I joined New Note Orchestra in October 2016, after a particularly bad episode of depression and anxiety I became determined to strengthen my five pillars of mental well-being and New Note seemed to tick all the boxes. Today, it is an integral part of my healthy lifestyle, it gives me a sense of belonging, a creative outlet, and unique opportunities for personal growth through learning from others.”
For those that missed the event, and those who want to relive it, here are some pictures.
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(HINT: You can expand the photos by clicking on them)