From Haydn and Mozart to Elgar and Tchaikovsky and the Christmas classics, minuets and waltzes to old American tunes, the Play Strings Academy Orchestra lifted spirits with their concert at St Peter’s Church in Colchester on Sunday 12th of December.

The orchestra, made up of members of all ages and abilities, was headed by James and Melinda Greenfield. They run Play Strings Academy, based in Colchester, and teach the cello, violin and viola.

The entertainment sector has been stretched to its limits by the pandemic and live music has continued to suffer as a result. Music lessons had to take place over video call for more than a year. All events ceased due to the restrictions, leading many musicians to seek alternative work. The removal of limits on audience numbers has not done much to soften the blow. Many people are still reluctant to attend events with large crowds, especially without masks.

Yet many turned out to watch performances of the father of quartet music Haydn’s “Surprise”, Tchaikovsky’s famous “Garland Waltz” of Sleeping Beauty and a masterful performance of “Salut D’amour” by Elgar amongst many other pieces. Along with classic Christmas carols in the second half of the performance putting the audience in a seasonal spirit.

First violinist of the “Surprise” quartet Samantha Laycock said, “after a year’s delay from when the quartets were first formed due to the Coronavirus, it was a real privilege to finally perform in front of a live audience.”

Though the spread of the omicron variant puts the potential to perform in jeopardy, members of the Play Strings Academy are optimistic about the future - using the concert as an opportunity to raise money for an orchestral tour of Bruges. Their optimism and determination inspire us all to maintain a positive outlook as we enter 2022.