Delight as music gigs and rehearsals begin once again in Wigan

The music industry is slowly getting going once more after a year in which it has been shut down due to Covid-19.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 3:09 pm
Updated Friday, 9th July 2021, 3:13 pm
The recent outdoor jazz gig at Haigh Woodland Park

Well-known promoter Ian Darrington MBE, who has spent decades supporting jazz in Wigan, said The Music Continuum was delighted to unveil its autumn programme.

The return of gigging in the borough started last weekend when a band led by saxophonist Mike Smith performed outdoors at Haigh Hall as part of the Picnic Brass series.

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In addition to professional musicians getting back on the stage The Music Continuum’s group for people looking to rekindle long-stilled musical talents, The Really Awful Orchestra, is about to begin rehearsals for the first time in more than a year.

Ian said there is a palpable excitement in the music scene after a complete shutdown of the sector because of the Covid-19 pandemic left performers and enthusiasts alike feeling blue.

He said: “It’s very exciting, everybody is expressing excitement about the return. Obviously everybody is going to have to be cautious but they want to get back to playing.

“It’s very evident what role music plays in everybody’s lives, either as a listener or a performer.

“During lockdown we have realised music has ben one of those things missing from our lives.

“It’s invaluable and it’s great to be organising gigs again.

“The Haigh Hall gig gave us an opportunity to reengage with people and maybe even attract some new fans.

“We’ve also renamed and rebranded Wigan Jazz Club as Sunday Jazz in Wigan. We don’t want people to feel it’s exclusive and something you can only go to if you’re a club member. This is open to everybody and hopefully the rebrand will give it that new identity for people.”

The autumn programme features the Al Wood Quartet in August, the SK2 Jazz Orchestra in September, the Nicola Farnon Trio in October and the Frank Griffith Quintet in November.

Ian says the enforced absence from the stage due to the pandemic could have a major impact as performers think about returning and notes there is still a degree of caution around the music scene after previous dates for opening up and relaxing restrictions came and went.

More positively, Ian hopes that lockdown could have given musicians space and time to innovate and come up with new ideas and that a new generation of younger musicians will emerge to ensure jazz has a bright future.

As well as putting on professional gigs The Music Continum is bringing back the Really Awful Orchestra, which is for instrumental players of all levels of ability and enthusiasm.

Ian says bringing back grassroots, community music-making after the pandemic is every bit as important as putting on high-profile concerts featuring big names again.

He said: “A group like the Really Awful Orchestra is absolutely crucial. Whatever profession you are in there are stresses and the opportunity to go and lose yourself in music is an amazing thing.

“The orchestra has served an incredible purpose for a wide variety of people from all kinds of backgrounds. Whatever job people have been in they have experienced stresses during the pandemic.

“Music is going to play a vital role in getting people back to full health.”

The orchestra is for adults who used to play but no longer do and want to enjoy playing in a large ensemble again.

There will be social distancing and other restrictions in place but rehearsals will be starting up again.

Anyone interested in joining the Really Awful Orchestra should email Peter Fletcher at [email protected]

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