MEMBERS of Ealing Symphony Orchestra missed their weekly ‘fix’ of music-making so much during lockdown that they found a novel way of getting round it.

ESO, which is two years from celebrating its centenary, is one of the leading amateur orchestras in London.

In normal times, up to 60 members rehearse at Ealing Green Church, and the orchestra performs six concerts a year. Standards are high, matching the ambition of musical director John Gibbons.

Using video conferencing to discuss cancellation of concerts, venues and soloists, committee members quickly realised the emotional benefit of being virtually connected to people they were accustomed to seeing each Thursday.

So, the ESO Virtual meeting was introduced.

The first gathering in April involved nearly 50 members and has continued every week since, with members dialling in from the Netherlands, Singapore, Florida and Brazil.

Each week is ‘hosted’ by a different volunteer who picks a theme and develops the content. So far, this has included Pirates, The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and Egypt - Ancient and Modern. Orchestra members dress up, and each week includes a singalong.

READ MORE: Work to start on Iron Bridge homes after £11.8m deal

READ MORE: Ealing municipal golf courses back in business

Organiser Jo Boswell said: “I was overwhelmed by the comments I got from members after the first meeting, describing it as the highlight of their week.

“I thought the number joining might start to dwindle after the novelty wore off, but it hasn’t. I think it highlights just how important this kind of social interaction is for our emotional well-being.”

Next step was to try to create a virtual performance, and an ambitious plan was hatched to create a lockdown performance of Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance March No. 4.

As not all members were able to take part, some recorded multiple parts and even played different instruments.

Volunteers Alan Garriock and Martin Jones got to work on synchronising the sound and videos, with the final version completed within a week.

Jo Boswell said: “There is already talk of what our next recording should be, though I think we need to allow our sound engineers to recover from this first effort before attempting another one.”

You can listen/watch to Ealing Symphony Orchestra’s virtual recording of Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance March No. 4 here: