The Redhill Sinfonia, founded in 1891, is one of the country's longest established amateur orchestras. It has had its highs and lows over the years, but it has been rehearsing and giving concerts in Redhill and Reigate every year for nearly 130 years, including through both World Wars. Although rehearsals had to be suspended in March and both its March and June concerts had to be cancelled, it is determined not to let a global pandemic prevent it from continuing to make music. On 24 June, it held a Zoom string sectional rehearsal on parts of Beethoven's Symphony No 6 (Pastoral) which it would have been performing at the cancelled June concert. Violinist and Honorary Librarian Jo Anderson took part and says it worked surprisingly well.
The first ever Redhill Sinfonia string sectional via Zoom was held earlier this month. Not of course how we would choose for it to be held, as nothing could and should replace live music making, but a positive of the current situation is that it does foster adaptability.
The Orchestra is very fortunate in having David Burton, a very experienced violinist and tutor, as its Leader. String sectionals, led by David, normally take place once a term - a time to focus on particularly tricky or awkward passages, and to pick up tips on technique. They are always enjoyable and players come out feeling that an awful lot has been learnt and achieved.
That was also the case this week. A good proportion of the string section joined the Zoom meeting, plus our conductor John Beswick, our President, Maureen Lovell and even a couple of our wind section, who were able to come and play along. String parts had been bowed by David in advance and scans distributed. David was joined by members of his musical family, wife Jane Tyler on viola and son Tim Burton on cello, and so a string trio could be seen and heard playing sections of the first and third movements of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony. All other participants were put on mute (an impossible time delay of up to 3 seconds making simultaneous playing impossible) and were therefore able to play their own part along with David and his family. Technical tips were discussed and participants were able to unmute themselves to ask questions. It was great to be reunited with desk partners and other orchestral colleagues, to be playing orchestral music once again and to feel a sense of purpose and optimism by working on a piece for our next concert. A further sectional is planned for a fortnight’s time.