As all Branches will undoubtedly agree this year of 2020 has been unusual to say the least. Covid 19 affected most of the plans we set last year so we all had to find new ways of communicating. Working apart but together became a new norm and I am proud to say that once more our NES Branch pulled out all the stops to create successes we would never thought possible.
Last year ended as normal with a packed Kings College Chapel and our Harps Accord Orchestra enchanted audiences once more with a varied programmed supported by The Mearns and Deveron Singers. We raised £665.50 for Archway Respite Care and we were able to add £204 to branch funds. We also took Harps of Gold to Banff Academy.
Before lockdown we were able to fit in a workshop by Wendy Stewart in March but the one we had scheduled with Corrina Hewat in April unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the Covid restrictions. Like many other teachers I had to quickly upscale my technology skills and quickly learnt the versatility of Zoom and through this medium I continued to teach my students in individual lessons. Through doing this I began to see the potential of this medium and soon started planning a Virtual Harp Concert which involved some of our wonderful harpers making their own video of a performance at home and these we brought together to an International Audience over Zoom. We were delighted to have people tuning from South Africa, USA, France, Ireland as well as all over the UK. Through donations this concert raised £180 for the Branch.
After the success of this concert and taking inspiration from the Harp Festival Online, we further began to explore the possibilities of having online workshops so our first online workshop took place with Corrina Hewat and myself sharing the teaching.
Our format worked well and the feedback was very positive with comments like ‘I could really see and hear what the tutors were demonstrating and because everyone else was muted there were no distractions’. We subsequently did another workshop with exactly the same format with Cheyenne Brown. At the end of August we are having an online Masterclass in Technique with Karen Marshalsay.
We have continued to increase our stock of Clarsachs and have just recently purchased another Bohemian Harp from Christoph Locherbach and hope to purchase 1 more by the end of the year. This brings our stock of Clarsachs to 16 producing a steady rental income for the Branch.
Our membership stands now at 43 members.
Although Covid 19 has placed unprecedented restrictions on our activities we have risen to the challenge and we intend to have a Virtual Harps of Gold so we are currently planning this and look forward to presenting this on various social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. So I am pleased to report that our little Branch continues to break new ground and we are proud of our achievements this year.
Irene Watt – Convenor