Building on the success of "String Heaven", our latest CD released in 2007 and which is distributed worldwide, we are currently editing a second CD in the same series, due for release in October 2008. By the end of this year the orchestra will have given 45 performances, a record number for us, made 2 new recordings and taken part in the Jersey Branchage Film Festival, at which we are performing to an Oscar-winning animated film of "Peter and the Wolf". For any interested in hearing in more detail about our lives and work, or just coming to more concerts, do email us (details on the contacts page) or join our mailing list. Also, our first newsletter is available to download here, with others to follow.
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Even the darkest clouds have a silver lining
Testimony: The Music of Forgiveness
Written by Gerard Le Feuvre, December 2003
Tomorrow (God willing) I will play the Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor. A towering work - one of our greatest Cello Concerto's and one of my favourite pieces of all time. It is my great privilege to play on a magnificent Cello made around 1710 in Rome and made by a man who was known as a committed Christian. I have travelled for twenty years with this instrument; which was largely bought for me by an anonymous Jersey gentleman and to whom I shall always be immensely grateful. Cellos come in all manner of shapes and sizes, each with their particular foibles and personalities. I think it took me five to ten years to really get to know my instrument and can certainly relate to other instrumentalists who liken their instruments to a part of their own body. I suppose it is like your voice, the means by which you express your most personal and deep emotions.
It is often quite traumatic travelling with a Cello, no matter how many times you are travelling on a certain route the Cello always seems to buck the system. I once travelled to America with my family and with a seat (of course) for the Cello too!!! The computer taking the booking really freaked at the Cello and as a result placed my Cello on one seat on its own, me in another miles away, one of our children (a baby) on a seat on her own in another part of the plane independent from my wife or any of us. Although I love my Cello, on that particular trip I learnt that I certainly love my children more!!!
My dream concerts are concerts where the travel goes smoothly and I have had time to prepare properly. This though rarely happens, and so I try to pass on to my students the same ethos that I have adopted myself, "To be a musician we must be over-comers rather than perfectionists". How we handle our mistakes/flaws/problems can determine whether or not we enjoy our music and indeed all of lives highs and lows as we travel through it.
By far the most dramatic incident in my twenty-year career was two weeks ago, when I went to play in Toronto . My journey went like clockwork, even to the extent that while waiting to board the plane to Toronto from Minneapolis an announcement was made, "will all passengers travelling with children or a Cello please come forward for pre-boarding!". My Cello was thrilled and we took a bow in response to the spontaneous applause before boarding the plane!! I was in Toronto for four days and managed to play on the first evening. At the end of the evening however a most unlikely and terrible thing happened. A young man must have literally run into my Cello on the platform, which I had put down for a moment while chatting with a fellow musician. I didn't actually see what happened but there was a tremendous splitting, cracking noise and I immediately turned around and ran over to my Cello. It was a simply awful sight; what looked like a huge crack had appeared, and I could actually look right through the instrument, which I have never been able to do before. I held my beloved Cello in my arms and went into shock. My stomach turned over and I felt really faint. Even despite the physical shock however a small alarm bell rang inside my mind, alerting me to the need to comfort the young man who had done the damage. He had more or less collapsed in front of me in grief, and was literally begging for forgiveness. He was as sorry as anyone could ever be. Somehow despite the shock and grief my heart went out to this young man. This turned out to be a vital key for us both.
I think people forget what an attractive quality repentance is in a person. I have never been so successfully melted by such genuine repentance before, and out of this I realised a profound and far-reaching lesson in my own life. This young man was easy to forgive, as he was so earnest, and so sorry for what he had done. It occurred to me however, if we take the teaching of Jesus seriously we must learn to forgive those who hurt and damage us even if they are not repentant. We say in the Lords prayer "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us". I realised that weekend that we want forgiveness and mercy for ourselves, and although many of us may in principle forgive our enemies, we actually want judgement for them. We want to know that we will get mercy, but that our enemies will be thunder bolted by God ("Judgement belongs to God"). In actual fact God showed me through this incident that if we really want to receive mercy and forgiveness we must really show it. I was deeply unburdened that weekend while learning to forgive and even to pray for mercy for people with whom I had issues, whether or not they were repentant for their part. This was a great lesson in it self, but there was more to come. When I brought my instrument back to London to one of the greatest repairers in the world, he took one look at the huge crack and said; "that's just a historic crack, it is about time we cleaned it up, clamped it hard and repaired it properly". In another instant I realised that there was a historic crack in my life, an incident some six years ago in which I was deeply hurt in what seemed a lasting way. It was time to deal with this; yet another issue of forgiveness.
The miraculous truth was, that although my Cello had spun in the air and landed smash on its bridge on the stage, it didn't splinter into pieces, as it should have. It simply split open at the seams from top to bottom with no fresh damage at all. The repairer I took it to was incredulous about this; it really has been a miraculous thing. He couldn't believe how little glue there was in the instrument holding it all together, and yet if it was miraculously held together with almost no glue it was equally miraculous to fall apart and absorb the shock of the blow rather than smash to pieces.
It certainly was a really shocking incident, and surprisingly the physical nature of the shock was severe; difficulty in eating and feeling a lot of grief. Yet today I could hardly thank the young man who caused the accident enough, as I really experienced a great relief in finally managing to forgive various people in my life (even though the unforgivness had been held subconsciously). Further more a great reward was in store for me, I went to pick up my Cello a week ago only to find that in its duly restored clamped and glued state, it was (in terms of sound) twice the instrument that it was before. The orchestra I subsequently performed with in London who know me and my Cello well could hardly believe it. It was one of the finest instruments around, but know it is even better.
The sound of forgiveness is fantastic, it is a costly gift but is unsurpassing in its beauty and is a treasure of immense blessing not just to those who receive it, but also to those who give it. It is number one on the Christmas list that we should have written and there is still time.