Community Cobwebs Orchestra scoops Gramophone Award

Posted on 7 October 2011

Creative director, Andy Jackson, and Cobwebs Administrator, Catherine Shackell (nee Holbrook) – both York alumni – received the award on behalf of the orchestra at a ceremony in the Dorchester on Thursday 6 October.

Gramophone Magazine’s Music in the Community award for 2011, in collaboration with Making Music and the Times, is another significant milestone in Cobweb’s development.  The award focuses on the way in which an orchestra benefits its local community, looking at the philosophy of inclusivity, the opportunities it provides and the enrichment and added value it offers. The Cobweb Orchestra, with its all-comers policy was voted the best community orchestra in the country.  It's over-arching aim is to enable as many people as possible to share and enjoy their love of music.  There are no auditions and no-one is turned away, the music is varied in style and level of difficulty.  Cobwebs even has bursaries to support members who may find it difficult to finance their playing.

Andy Jackson, the Cobweb Orchestra’s creative director, who has been with the organisation since its inception, said: “This is a wonderful accolade for us. This is the second award we’ve received this year, also having come first in the innovation category of Voluntary Arts England’s EPIC Awards.  We all gain a tremendous amount of fun from what we do, but it’s deeply satisfying when national recognition is given to the work we do here in the North. Audiences are constantly amazed by the quality of music we produce – the more experienced players seem to take the beginners along with them – and the camaraderie within the orchestra makes for a welcoming reception for anyone new. I’ve been involved with many musical groups throughout my life and I can honestly say I’ve never come across anything quite like this one. The Cobweb Orchestra is absolutely unique and this award is fantastic recognition of that.”

With over 200 paid-up members and 1200 players across the North of England Cobwebs has come a long was from its tentative beginnings at Annfield Plain library in Co Durham in 1995 with just 20 players.  Today's extended organisation runs a jam packed dairy of weekend events including study days, concerts and residentials, as well as eight regular groups across the region in York, Middlesbrough, Spennymoor, Consett, The Sage Gateshead, from Morpeth in the East over to Dalston and Tebay in Cumbria.