Almost 200 individuals representing 18 different organisations in the Island, from choirs and orchestras to music schools, have joined the Facebook page Jersey Musicians and Teachers, which organisers have said may now become a more formally constituted body.
One of the group’s Facebook page moderators, Francis Murton, head of music at Victoria College, explained that the group was meeting a need which had become apparent as a result of current restrictions on musical performance.
‘We are a by-product of Covid, we are not here because of Covid. We want to ensure that we can help each other to support musical development in the Island. People are enjoying the fact that we are talking to each other,’ Mr Murton said.
Last year, local choirs led representations to the government about recommendations which prevented individuals meeting to sing together, whether for public performance or to rehearse, which they argued were unfair.
They expressed growing frustration that there had been no consultation with musicians about the impact of restrictions or about ways in which music could continue within the public-health guidance.
‘As a teacher, I can have 150 boys through my department but I can’t have four boys playing the trumpet. I have not had a choir rehearsal for ten months now,’ he said.
‘I heard a rugby player saying recently that he hadn’t played for three weeks, which was a long time. Well, professional musicians have not been able to do anything for ten months. The concern is that a year doing nothing means that nobody improves, or people get frustrated and lose interest.’
Some of the musical groups affected by the restrictions last year expressed frustration that their voices went unheard while they felt the interests of sporting organisations were more effectively represented to the government.
Mr Murton agreed that there had been no group speaking on behalf of the huge range of interests that make up the Island’s musical community.
Now he hopes that what started as an initiative through social media will become a more formal alliance of musicians, and discussions have already taken place with ArtHouse Jersey, the government-funded arts agency, about how that could be done.
Mr Murton said that those involved hoped the interest shown so far might lead to the creation of a music association for Jersey that would help develop musical activities in the Island.
‘We want to engage with the government because it’s very important to be supportive of plans like the new arts strategy, which should include music as an important element,’ he said.