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Classical concerts at grand estate boost struggling musicians

PUBLISHED: 14:07 26 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:24 26 August 2020

Wolterton Park owners Peter Sheppard and Keith Day, centre, with members of the ensemble. Picture: Neil Foster Photography

Wolterton Park owners Peter Sheppard and Keith Day, centre, with members of the ensemble. Picture: Neil Foster Photography

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Musicians who had not fronted an audience since March will benefit from £13,000 raised at two charity concerts.

A scene frm the Wolterton Park recitals. Picture: Neil Foster PhotographyA scene frm the Wolterton Park recitals. Picture: Neil Foster Photography

Nine internationally acclaimed musicians formed the Wolterton Ensemble for the open-air events on August 21 and 22, which had sold-out crowds of 200 people each.

Hannah Perowne is director of the ensemble, which is thought to be the only professional group of its kind in Norfolk.

She said: “We chose to support Help Musicians charity because they have been incredibly helpful to many freelance musicians.

“Most people’s work dropped away completely from March and while some of the major orchestras honoured fees, it meant for many, all income was gone.”

Wolterton Hall co-owners Keith Day, left, and Peter Sheppard. The estate hosted two open-air classical concerts. Picture: Ella WilkinsonWolterton Hall co-owners Keith Day, left, and Peter Sheppard. The estate hosted two open-air classical concerts. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Ms Perowne said many younger musicians, or those who had only become freelancers in the year before the pandemic hit, were not eligible for the government’s bailout, so were left with no choice but to claim Universal Credit.

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The concerts, featuring baroque and romantic music, took place in the grounds of the 1742 country manor Wolterton Hall - between Aylsham and Cromer - which is owned by Peter Sheppard and Keith Day.

Mr Sheppard said: “Keith and I are aware there haven’t been any music events since the Covid crisis and many friends, who are musicians, have had no work. So, when Hannah Perowne, previously associate leader of the Gewandhaus orchestra in Leipzig, approached us about putting on a recital with world class musicians, we were very keen to help.

Wolterton Hall in north Norfolk hosted two open-air classical concerts. Picture: Ella WilkinsonWolterton Hall in north Norfolk hosted two open-air classical concerts. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

“Fortunately, the temperature was warm and it did not rain although it was quite windy so we had to slightly amplify the musicians so everyone could hear.

“Lots of people brought picnics and we supplied wine, so there was a lovely atmosphere. We’ve been overwhelmed by letters of thanks with encouragement to repeat the concerts next year.”

Ms Perowne said it was hoped the group would grow to include wind and brass players.

She said further concerts at the estate were already being planned for next year.

She said: “We were absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to play together again after so many months of playing to our own four walls and the reception we received at Wolterton Park was amazing. I believe the two concerts we gave at the weekend will remain close to our hearts for a very long time.”


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