Ilford musician supports vulnerable people with socially distanced ‘Cuppa Concerts’

Charlie Cawood, guitarist and multi-intrumentalist from Ilford is working with World Harmony Orchest

Charlie Cawood, guitarist and multi-intrumentalist from Ilford is working with World Harmony Orchestra on their Cuppa Concert series. Picture: Ashley Jones - Credit: Archant

An Ilford musician is holding “Cuppa Concerts” to safely bring back a bit of the magic of live performance to support vulnerable people thanks to an Arts Council grant.

Charlie was on tour playing bass with the band Anathema for their 10th anniversary tour when the fir

Charlie was on tour playing bass with the band Anathema for their 10th anniversary tour when the first lockdown hit and 'everything fell apart'. Picture: Caroline Traitler - Credit: Archant

Charlie Cawood, 32, a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, had a busy year ahead of him touring with the band Anathema when “everything fell apart” in March and work ground to a halt.

Before the first lockdown he had a tour lined up and recording sessions booked across multiple projects.

He also offers private guitar lessons to a number of students which proved to be a lifelife for him to be able to continue to do those over Zoom.

He told the Recorder: “Luckily for some of us we’ve been able to do a bit of work throughout this period but it’s not just musicians - it’s the venues and the crews that support musicians that are really suffering right now.”

Charlie has been able to work on solo projects and with Mediaeval Baebes on their new album Prayers

Charlie has been able to work on solo projects and with Mediaeval Baebes on their new album Prayers Of The Rosary throughout lockdown. Picture: Andy Porter - Credit: Andy Porter


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Working with the Emmy-nominated classical choir Mediaeval Baebes during lockdown he was able to contribute 10 instruments to their forth-coming album Prayers of the Rosary.

Now Charlie is working with the World Harmony Orchestra (WHO), a professional ensemble of international musicians who perform for peace and humanitarian causes and support vulnerable people through music and are holding the Cuppa Concerts.

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The WHO organised 100 socially distanced outdoor concerts across the UK during the first lockdown and have recently been awarded an Arts Council grant to perform 200 more until January 20.

The Cuppa Concerts are live or video-recorded and where possible, the musicians will “share a cuppa” with the people they’re performing for to have a chat.

Charlie said: “What is clear is that in times of crisis people turn to art and being able to listen to live music and engage in that - those are the things that sustain people.

“Everyone is missing the dynamic of live performance and no one has been able to witness that, especially people who are vulnerable or shielding so this is a way for us to give them some sort of comfort.”

Performers such as Charlie can hold concerts for individuals or socially distanced groups of people in care homes or other healthcare settings.

The concerts are free or “pay-what-you-can” and can be booked for an individual, but then only one relative, carer or friend coordinating the concert can attend as well.

Charlie has been a professional musician for more than a decade and he said the time away from constantly performing has had its pros and cons.

He said: “When you’re a musician you’re normally bouncing from gig to gig and to all of a sudden have a lot of time on your hands is when anxiety sets in.

“You have this constant pressure to work all the time so it’s difficult to adjust.

“I think there was a crisis of mental health in our society already but the pandemic just exposed that.”

He said he has been lucky to be able to continue teaching and was able to get support through the self-employment grant.

He said: “For some people like me it’s been hard but it’s just a postponement but there are a lot of people out there who are really struggling.

“People who are working as technicians and sound engineers their entire industry has just collapsed and the future is very uncertain.”

He has used the time during the lockdown periods to take a step back and get into a rhythm of practicing and composing his own material.

Charlie was touring with Anathema in March as part of their 10th anniversary tour for their album We’re Here Because We’re Here, but after it was rescheduled twice since the first lockdown, the band has decided to take an indefinite hiatus.

To book a Cuppa Concert email info@worldharmonyorchestra.com.

For more info on Charlie’s work visit https://www.charliecawood.com/ and you can pre-order Mediaeval Baebes’ new album Prayers of the Rosary at https://mediaevalbaebes.bandcamp.com/album/prayers-of-the-rosary

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