The Clapham Festival of Music and the Arts
The Clapham Festival of Music & the Arts (Cla'am Fest) was created to organise annually in Clapham, a festival for music and the arts, promoting education and fostering community spirit and service in Lambeth.
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| welcome > the cla'am fest orchestra

orchestra of the cla'am fest


David Hoyland, musical director
Stephen Bennett, personnel manager

Personnel Requirements - (all instruments welcome)- (raison d’etre) statement of purpose:

"Always have an orchestra for the weekend. Sort of livens things up." Alistair Sim replies: "I'm sure." -from The Green Man (1956, B/W)

"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music." - Sergei Rachmaninov

"Engaging with music and the arts is one of the most important things we have in life. Performing a piece of music and listening to it with an open mind can tell us many things about the world and ourselves. If people can reach mutual understanding and even harmony ove a work of art in this world of conflict and despair, this gives me hope and encouragement that we reach with the arts where we can't get with words and politics alone." - Daniel Barenboim

To be the finest, most profoundly important orchestra in the land requires dedication of the highest standard. Every individual, from the last chair of the second violins to the leader and principals of each section to the triangle-player, is of the utmost vital importance. Here's what Bernard Haitink very politely said in March 2004: _*_ <= click here

We are a team, a band of brothers and sisters – friends who share a common goal and idealistic commitment that music makes people better human beings.

Love or Money?

“Too much (payment) for what I have done; too little for what I could do.”
--W.A. Mozart

The single biggest problem, and the most destructive of all, that orchestras world-wide face, is that they refuse to give music without being paid accordingly for it. Given: traditionally, musicians have always been under-valued and under-paid to the point of starvation. This sad situation has not changed. Symptom: bitter animosity towards the pay-masters and public at large. Result: Inferior, trivial music-making has no effect or meaning in the world. Nihilism rules. Materialism flourishes. The human spirit is diminished. “We who live to please, must please to live.”

The sacrifice is great. But the prize is invaluable. “Prize” is the wrong word. Music/Art is not a competition, is not a race, is not a game with winners and losers. Everyone is the winner! Successful & full committment will attract and bring the necessary money.

A musician membering this orchestra must possess the following requirements and committments:

1. Mastery of his/her instrument.

2. Committment to become better than he is.

3. Care, concern - committed to a warm, friendly relationship with fellow colleagues in entirety. We will always go to the aid of a colleague, no matter how big or small the problem or concern. The false myth that strings are better than winds and/or brass and vice verse is now dead. Snobs exist everywhere, even in the music world. Indeed, the old rule rules: "Who you know not what you know." People pulling strings is the rule. We, and Cla'am Fest, exist to end this stupid, class-ridden inhuman primitive barbarism. We must have and maintain mutual respect, if not Reverance For Life! Do not forget that Mozart himself had a favourite instrument and that instrument was the Basset horn and the clarinet (considered a "lesser" instrument these days).
W. A. Mozart could not play either of them (genius HAS limits!) . He played the piano and the violin, obviously, and that does not mean that they are easier to play, either! Wolfie preferred to play the viola in the string quartet and preferred to sing alto by choice.

4. Rejection of negativity and counter-productive criticism and/or “sniping”.

5. Highly developed sense of musically critical discrimination.

6. Have something to say.

7. Practice a minimum of two (2) hours per day, each and every day.

8. Attend all rehearsals. If you want to create the best orchestra in the land, you must commit to attend and play all rehearsals and performances.

9. Music first – money last or 2nd. We all need to make money. But, if you want to be part of our vision, you must commit yourself to it. If we all do this, then the sooner we will be able to make a good living from it.

10. Form and play chamber music within the orchestra (eg. String quartets, Wind quintets, brass and percussion ensembles, etc.) . Organize private chamber music evenings at each other’s homes. Public performances also required.

“I can’t make the rehearsal tonite because I have double-booked". (I got a better paid gig)

An all-too-common albeit understandable situation occurrence. We all must eat and pay the rent, etc. But remember, that the result of this action greatly hurts the orchestra, betrays one’s colleagues and undermines the entire reason for the orchestra’s very existence. This problem alone has destroyed music. Put bluntly, the current music scene is not world class. Music is bankrupt and dead, no matter how hard they try to disagree, sweep it under the carpet and try to cover it up.

11. Auditions do nothing to reveal and/or expose the qualities of a musician, nor do they provide any solution for procuring and choosing personnel of the highest calibre. Remember this when you take and/or judge auditions/competitions.

12. Ensemble intonation exercises will be a regular orchestral routine.

13. Undivided attention at all rehearsals. Books, radios, magazines, irrelevant conversations undermine one’s creative thinking and concentration as well as being discourteous to the orchestra and one’s colleagues.

14. Dialog and communication is encouraged at all times.

15. Childish and puerile “office-politics”, while common and understandable, will not be tolerated. We are professionals on a profoundly important mission for God. Even us confirmed atheists!

16. Commitment to personal health, physical, mental and musical.

17. Section rehearsals are routine.

Remember our duty as artists and musicians is to point the world in the right direction and lead homo sapiens towards enlightenment. Beethoven sincerely and passionately believed it was the task of music to transform the world. These days it is fashionable to smile at artists who make such claims. Let us smile back at them.

"When I look out into the world, I must hate what I see, for it is a world that does not understand that music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the bridge between intellectual and sensuous life, the entrance for mankind into a higher world of knowledge which comprehends us but which we cannot comprehend."

"Creatures of a day, my music will make you free, able yourselves to create like gods. He who understands my music will be freed by it from the miseries which others drag about within themselves."

Ludwig van Beethoven

Stephen Bennett, Artistic Director

* "What about London ? 'That's really a difficult situation,' Bernard Haitink reflects, 'because London has a pool of musicians that is unique. Boulez says you can do what you want in London, because for every piece there are always musicians who can play it. The tragedy is the way orchestras have to operate. Concert life just survives by the skin of its teeth. The whole life in London , I don't have to tell you, is so difficult. Nearly inhuman. Not much pay. Terrible pressure. Managers of orchestras need all the time to raise the money and can't concentrate on musical standards. The players are incredible. It's the survival of the fittest.

'It is tragic that London doesn't have a really good hall, and that it doesn't just have two well-established orchestras that don't have to fight for their lives. But I think it will never change, that's the sad thing. The political agenda is not interested.'" (excerpt from the Guardian, Friday March 5, 2004)

On February 16, 2011,(here) Sir Simon Rattle was reported to say that other world orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic have "a vital spark of intensity and engagement" that British orchestras do not have. The performances are no better than an orchestra's "first run-through". Why rehearse at all then? British orchestras are not interested in the music or in the "journey" to the music, from the music and to the listener. An interpretation is not thought about or even considered. There is no "expressive intensity" in a British orchestra. Music is not "in the bones" of British musicians. British musicians, musicians in British orchestras, are all flash-in-the-pan. They can read any musical combination of notes at sight. But ask them what the meaning of the notes are and they do not have even one clue. Ask them how much they are getting paid and they can tell you all about that with not a moment's hesitation. A British musician can, unlike Eric Morcambe, play all of the notes in the right order. What a British musician cannot do has to do with "the problem (of) getting further into the music than playing all of the notes in the right order." In British orchestral concerts, there is no "thrill of performance". This is because of the above reasons plus the fact that most of the vast sea of players take beta blockers because they are too afraid to be incapacitated by nerves and "stage fright". Edward Elgar said many times that England is not musical. The British make music because world "culture" dictates and says they have to, not because they want to. Margaret Thatcher gave £5million to the Royal Opera because of "prestige" alone, no other reason and certainly not because of music. The deep, profound meaning of music is lost on British musicians and therefore on the British public, audiences and potential audiences. Music is universally seen and known to be a trivial pursuit, and therefore, it has no meaning unless there's money involved.

The real tragedy is that the orchestras are money-grubbing and to make the most profit possible they do the least amount of work and rehearsing and preparation. How can any musical performance be a spiritual, up-lifting experience with the musicians grabbing as much money as they can instead of doing their job and duty along with the audience in communing with the composer and the muse? It is impossible under those circumstances of course! Let us end that and change the face of music and community NOW! London, as anywhere else, can have more than 2 orchestras and it does have many more. London has at least ten orchestras. We can and should have another new orchestra in the Claamfest Orchestra. Indeed, London and the world NEEDS an orchestra, a musical organisation that will solve the problem Haitink and Rattle voiced and hinted at above. What is needed is the musical will, and the personnel requirements that are listed above. Surely there are, there must be brave, courageous musicians in London and in the world who know and understand the importance of great music that are willing to make the sacrifices sufficient enough to communicate this deeply profound meaning and importance and fulfill the criteria spelled out above. Let's go for it, people!
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Watercolour painting of Holy Trinity Church on Clapham Common painted  by our Artistic Director, Stephen Bennett
Painting by Stephen Bennett

Holy Trinity Church on Clapham Common - was used by William Wilberforce as a centre for the Abolitionist Movement against slavery. Away from traffic and buildings in a peaceful setting, this is a unique and ideal place for some of the most exciting events of the festival. (click to enlarge picture)

Clapham Festival of Music & the Arts TM and Logotype

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