Mid 2020, when it became apparent that musicians were all going to be unable to work for the foreseeable future, Laura Llewellyn-Jones and Iestyn Griffiths brought together professional musicians under the label of The West End of Wales (The WeoW) from across the South West of Wales to put together "virtual orchestra" projects for the charity "Help Musicians". The musicians we brought together are usually found as chair holders in the West End and tour pit orchestras such as Dear Evan Hansen, Les Miz, & Juliet, Phantom of the Opera and Bat out of Hell, have jobs in orchestras like the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the RTE Symphony Orchestra over in Dublin and not to mention our whole host of freelancers and educators we have in the group.
Our first two “virtual performances” raised in excess of £800 for the charity Help Musicians, and upon our third video we realised we indeed were the very charity we were raising funds for, and decided to become a Community Interest Company with the motto of "inspiring and supporting Welsh Musicians". This has led to us crowdfunding and being able to pay our musicians for their musical contributions, and create opportunities for much needed paid work during these unprecedented times. We are also focused on inspiring future generations of musicians, and have led a large education project with Ceredigion Music Service, as well as providing online webinars / university & college talks to music students. We have been featured on Radio Cymru with Shan Cothi and I was interviewed for BBC Wales today for our work to try and overcome the devastation the pandemic has created on The Arts industry. We have also had airplay on Radio Wales with Scott Quinnell with one of our collaboration tracks with Steffan Rhys Hughes and The Welsh of The West End. We also won, with our sister company Choirs For Good, a 2020 Classical Music Digital Award in the digital choirs category for our “Broadway Christmas” feature, where 160 singers ranging from 5-95 formed a brand new choir over Zoom and were coached into a medley with our orchestra.
There are exciting times ahead at The WeoW, but we look forward to St. David's Day and continue to try to support our musicians whilst providing entertainment. We are hosting a Celebration Of Wales online St. David’s Day concert, which we hope will feature a collection of well known Welsh celebrities, soloists, artists and groups.