Report by Dee Bixley
The Playathon had been going for fourteen hours by the time I arrived at Holt Village Hall.
Joanne Jefferis, the professional cellist, teacher, and inspiration behind this venture looked remarkably bright-eyed as she greeted me.
She was delighted with the musicians’ collective enthusiasm for the project, and her mother Sue Steel was a great example of the support they had received. Sue had been up all night too, greeting visitors in the early hours and offering refreshments.
Five years ago Joanne founded the successful VLO String Quartet. She has also formed, with her students, the Severn Cello Ensemble – Worcester’s only 16-piece cello orchestra – and we were treated to a performance. Inevitably, their skills varied and so the immaculately-timed string plucking needed for the Strauss Pizzicato Polka went wonderfully awry.
The mirth of the more practised performers overcame them!
I heard how a lady came in at 3am, played for 1½ hours, went home for a nap and was back ready for more. One chap became so immersed in his music that he didn’t take the hint when his time on the programme was up!
But for me the best story featured one of Joanne’s cello students. Her husband is a professional pianist and her own lack of confidence means that she confines her cello practice for when her husband is playing golf! During the night, however, despite her nerves, they played together as a duo. And now, hours later, she played again with complete confidence.
And to think: all this might never have happened but for the need of a new roof for a school in West Africa! We will of course keep you informed about the library roof, but there's one thing for sure - there will be some highly delighted teachers and children.
A huge thank you from all of us at AOT to everyone involved in the 24-hour Playathon.
After the event, Joanne told us: "Everyone involved in Music for Adults @ Holt has found it a privilege to support The African Oyster Trust over the past few months.
"We have made small donations after collections at our concerts but the 24-hour Playathon was a dedicated effort by many people to raise funds.
"Although it was a bit daunting at first I am proud to say that all of the students who attend sessions at Holt wholeheartedly supported the event and contributed talent, time camaraderie and baking skills to the event. Without their generosity and the support of our families and friends, this would not have been possible.
"We had some moving moments, some unique moments and some hilarious moments - particularly in the small hours! I am very excited about the the total amount raised, which is still rising, and we anticipate that the final total will be near £1,000".
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The news diary is written by a number of people close to the work of the African Oyster Trust, including founder James Holden, his co-directors, trustees and volunteers.