The lunchtime concerts at the Cramphorn Theatre in Chelmsford began around 31 years ago. At first they were a monthly platform for various and many students and colleagues from the Conservatoires, Universities and Colleges with which I was associated.
Artists would ‘air’ a program prior to a debut recital, give some exam repertoire exposure or just perform for the experience.
The series is now weekly with amateur, semi pro and professional artists taking part in what has become a most varied offering of music.
Before a certain pandemic the ‘live’ concerts attracted between sixty to one hundred audience members a week and in recent years we have added a ‘relaxed concert’ once a month for our friends from the ‘special needs’ community. The latter featured me playing live to silent movies and cartoons, some interactive music making and even some dancing!
Since moving online we reach between 800 to1400 people a week via the theatre face book and you tube platforms.
Judging by the various communications received from our ‘audience in the ether’ (as a journalist from BBC Essex once quipped) then this musical initiative is being well received by individuals, families, care homes and institutions far and wide.
Should the enthusiastic numbers of our virtual audience ever translate to the live experience of music and theatre when we return ‘in the flesh,’ then Chelmsford City Theatres will be delighted!
More personally, I should write of the community of professional musicians who live in such trying times without the vocation that is their livelihood. How generous they have been with their time and professionalism in contributing to these online concerts. I am hopeful that the opportunity to perform for us has had a positive impact on them as we await the earliest chance to attend our first live music experience.