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Against All Odds

December 9, 2021 December 2021 No Comments

The Martinborough Music Festival “Class of ’21”. Photo Pete Monk.

The Martinborough Music Festival was performed in October, despite being reorganised three times. “It was a bit of a rollercoaster with “Will it happen, Won’t it happen?” moments,” said Brendan Smyth and Sharon Cuzens, two of the organising team for the festival. But our whole team was determined to make it work.

“Each time the date changed, we lost quarter of our audience. The original players we had hoped to highlight were from Australia. With Melbourne and Sydney in Lockdown that was not going to be. We lost a pianist, a cellist and three viola players. Fortunately, Wilma Smith managed to escape on the last flight out of Melbourne.”

Vicki Jones, and Wilma succeeded in finding other musicians of equal calibre. Michael Houston replaced Laurence Matheson. Alexandra Partridge cellist, and Zephyr Wills viola, two younger players, supported Andrew Joyce cellist, Gillian Ansell viola, Bridget Douglas on the flute, Wilma, and Monique Lapins on violins.

With over 200 other events cancelled or rescheduled, iTICKET worked patiently to manage our changes. To keep the numbers up we decided to arrange four concerts. Two afternoon repeat performances were held. With the restrictions reducing attendees from 200 to 150 per concert the audience could be socially distanced, yet not miss out. Masks were mandatory and everyone obliged.

The atmosphere in the hall was buoyant. The applause reflected the vigour and energy of the performances.

On Sunday afternoon Wairarapa wind gusts created their own diversion, stopping the players in their tracks as the siren at the Fire Station blasted out overwhelming the players. The short respite, with an impromptu commentary on the music by Gillian Ansell, allowed Bridget Douglas to quickly  adjust her contact lenses before resuming. Meanwhile Monique Lapins emulated the sound of the siren on her violin to the amusement of all.

The tiered staging was hired from the Carterton Events Centre. A survey following the last Festival Concert indicated that this new layout worked well, providing the audience with better viewing positions and better acoustics. Blackout curtains made by Sharon on her sewing machine created a great backdrop for the stage.

The Martinborough Music Festival is now in its fifth year but due to Covid lockdowns in 2020 this was only the fourth festival. “Next year we are planning something special to mark the fifth,” says Sharon.

The Music Festival Trust comprising Ed Allen Chair, Brendan Smyth Deputy Chair, Winifred Bull, Sharon Cuzens, Andrew Morrison, and Marion Townend wish to acknowledge the sponsors for their support, and the community for its enthusiastic response.

Lyle Griffiths

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