Greg Butcher conducts the first Afternoon at the Proms concert in the Saraton before a packed house in 2014.
Greg Butcher conducts the first Afternoon at the Proms concert in the Saraton before a packed house in 2014.

Popular Clarence concert falls victim to COVID-19

ONE of the most popular annual concerts in the Clarence Valley has fallen victim to uncertainty over the outlook for COVID-19.

The Afternoon at the Proms concert, presented by the Clarence Valley Orchestra and Chorus has cancelled for this year, with organiser Dr Greg Butcher citing the difficulties in preparing under current restrictions.

Mr Butcher said that restrictions would even limit the number of players able to start rehearsals in 12 weeks for the show.

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"Given the Clarence Valley Orchestra and Chorus size, production costs and rehearsal restrictions, it's not worth planning for it this year … if it all comes tumbling down."

This year, the performance was to be headlined by piano virtuoso Simon Tedeschi, with the major performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue, arranged by Dr Butcher for the orchestra.

Simon Tedeschi was due to headline this year’s Afternoon at the Proms.
Simon Tedeschi was due to headline this year’s Afternoon at the Proms.

He cited the fact that their audience and many in their chorus were older, and may still be avoiding sit down crowds or being close in public settings.

Combined with the effects of drought, fire and flood over the past six to twelve months, and a reduction of the crowd due to COVID by 25-50 per cent would lead to the production not being able to cover costs.

The concert has filled the Saraton theatre each Jacaranda Festival since 2014, with guests from across the country headlining the locally produced performance.

The shows have raised more than $40,000 for local charities including local ambulance services, and RSL clubs from special Anzac Day shows.

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The group had also presented a revamped Carols By Candlelight show at Alumy Creek Reserve and was due to perform a "Musical Feast" cabaret show at the Christ Church Cathedral before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Butcher is hopeful that this musical feast show will still go ahead in 2021 if social distancing restrictions are again relaxed.

Refunds are available from the Saraton Theatre in person from this Thursday or can be held over until next years' show, scheduled for October 31, 2021.

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