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East London’s community band to stream free online Saturday concert after lockdown hit rehearsals

PUBLISHED: 15:01 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:09 09 July 2020

Banging the drum... East London Community Band ready to stream a live free concert on Facebook. Picture: ELCB

Banging the drum... East London Community Band ready to stream a live free concert on Facebook. Picture: ELCB

ELCB

A “virtual concert” is being staged online free by members of the East London Community Band which has been hit hard by the lockdown preventing them rehearsing together.

The band rehearsing in 2018 at St Dunstan'’s historic parish church in Stepney for their Christmas concert.  Picture: ELCBThe band rehearsing in 2018 at St Dunstan'’s historic parish church in Stepney for their Christmas concert. Picture: ELCB

They are giving performances on Facebook on Saturday evening to show that they’re not licked yet.

The “community spirit” is coming through the pandemic to keep the inter-generation charity alive for its 50th anniversary in 2024.

“The point of the band is to make music together,” the charity’s chair of trustees Suzanne Gorman explains.

“Lockdown meant we risked losing touch or feeling alienated by the virtual space we were forced into.”

But its musical team led by Matthew Hardy came up with an online programme to inspire members to keep going.

East London's community band performing 'al fresco' in Millwall Park before the lockdown. Picture: ELCBEast London's community band performing 'al fresco' in Millwall Park before the lockdown. Picture: ELCB

“The social side is almost as important as making the music,” Suzanne adds.

“The future for funding is uncertain — but the resilience of this group has shown that we’ll be around for a few years yet!”

The music-making charity normally meets every Friday evening at the Shadwell Centre.

But it had to take its rehearsals online when the lockdown began. Original scores have been worked out that responded to the pandemic which are being performed on Saturday.

Several band members are frontline NHS workers, like GP Jackie Applebee who normally runs the Tredegar practice in Bow when she’s not out campaigning, or taking time off for last week’s Unison rally over council contracts or last summer’s “climate emergency” demo which brought the Whitechapel Road to a standstill.

GP Jackie Applebee swaps her claronet to 'play' the megaphone at a 'climate emergency' demo in Whitechapel in 2019. Picture: Mike BrookeGP Jackie Applebee swaps her claronet to 'play' the megaphone at a 'climate emergency' demo in Whitechapel in 2019. Picture: Mike Brooke

But Dr Applebee doesn’t let the community band play second fiddle in her active life, rather that she plays second clarinet for them.

Saturday’s programme features pre-recorded pieces from the band’s jazz, early music and chamber ensembles as well as solos performed live.

Audiences can join the Facebook livestream at 6pm, July 11.

The band subsidises tuition, offers free instrument loan and takes on anyone of any age and any ability to make music together. It relies on membership fees and grants to keep going and is now appealing for public help from wellwishers on its Just Giving crowdfunding page.


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