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Newsletter January 2020

Contributed items:-

Frank Challenger

Music on the Levels on the look out for new talent!

Music on the Levels has been in existence since 2014. It is run by a small management committee and has a growing number of members supporting the association.

Music on the Levels aims are to bring high- quality music to the area and to encourage young and emerging.

Audiences have grown since the first concerts in the small church hall, with a capacity of only 40, and now all performances are held in the parish church where over 100 people regularly attend. There is now admission charge; performers fees and other costs are met by generous donations, the sale of refreshments and raffles.

The church has recently been re-ordered to provide a café area, toilets and new heating, and now Music on the Levels has added stage lighting.

The committee is always welcome to ideas for new performers in all genres- classical, folk, jazz, country and western and more. TAPA members may have ideas!

Immediately, we are looking for ‘young’ musicians and performers for our Platform for Young Musicians on 29 March 2020. Please contact Frank Challenger on 01278 699071 or with suggestions.


Thank you to Harold Mead for this article


You want a what? OK, I’ll see what I can do.

These words or something like them often occur a few months before Somerset Opera take the stage with either their main summer production or their spring touring show. If I’m lucky it is a few months, but sometimes it can be a lot less. I’m talking about stage props, and anything more miscellaneous it would be hard to imagine. For example:

Opera – Mozart, ‘The Marriage of Figaro’. “We need a chest for Cherubino to hide in when Count Almaviva comes into the room”. OK, how big? Consider that although a male character, Cherubino is always played by a girl, and questions about the size of Cherubino’s chest could be open to mis-interpretation. It had to be large enough and strong enough for her to jump into, but light enough that it could be moved very quickly and easily. Amazing what can be done with sheets of 5mm ply and strip wood from B&Q.

“We also need a Colt .45 automatic pistol”. What?!! In a Mozart opera?!! “Ah, well, the production has been moved to present day Hollywood, and a sword might look a bit out of place”. (Maybe not, but that’s California for you). After downloading the appropriate images from the Internet (which could have got me into trouble) one replica of the classic 1909 Colt .45 automatic was duly fabricated from some of the left over plywood, a short length of black plastic pipe and a couple of those tiny tins of Humbrol enamel.

In my time with Somerset Opera, as well as actually appearing in the productions and singing various roles, I’ve produced a weird variety of objects, most of them I have to say being weapons. It’s not exactly ‘Game of Thrones’ but cutlasses and muzzle-loading pistols (‘The Pirates of Penzance’) have been followed by samurai long and short swords (‘The Mikado’) and a fearsomely accurate and totally practical executioner’s axe (‘The Yeomen of the Guard’). I was also proud of being able to turn a wooden screw-type nutcracker into a very workable torturer’s thumbscrew (also ‘Yeomen’). I actually had to incorporate a safety stop into that one, in case anyone overdid the number of turns.

When I retired, it was my pleasure to convert my garage into a ‘proper’ workshop with benches, racks of hand tools and enough power tools to blow the house fuses if I turned them all on at once. Word got around and I was soon involved in the world of faking things for the stage. Currently I’m

making a rifle for Private Willis, the sentry in ‘Iolanthe’, to be taken on tour in March. The opera is set in the latter half of the 19th century, so more Internet research has led me into the realms of the single-shot Martini-Henry rifle which I’ll try to replicate. I’m sure most of the audience won’t notice, but I’ll enjoy being smug about it.

Why bother? Surely such things can be hired along with the costumes? Well, yes, but costs come into it, especially for amateur groups like TAPA members. We always try to get as much as possible from our own resources, and although we often have to pay professional costumiers Somerset Opera has a mind-blowing collection of clothing and props of their own, built up over the years. So have Taunton Thespians and I have to say, making the odd prop or two is not only useful, but fun!

Harold Mead


The next one is included as its not a concert!




If you have never had the opportunity to sing this

wonderful work NOW IS YOUR CHANCE to learn from scratch. Music score provided.

OR just come and sing it again because you like it!

You bring the packed lunch; we will supply the tea/coffee


A friendly atmosphere and the help and encouragement of our Musical Director


Salvation Army Hall, Moorland Road Bridgwater Somerset

SATURDAY 15th February 2020


Booking and details from Secretary, Peter Attwood on 01278 734588 or



Somerset County Orchestra is made up of both amateur and professional players. Rehearsals are on Tuesday evenings at Queen’s College and we give three or four concerts a year covering a wide ranging repertoire. We are happy to welcome new members of grade 8 standard and above and currently have opportunities for violas, violins, brass and French horn. If you are interested in joining us as a player, please visit our website

Wellington Choral

Wellington Choral Society have a modular, stable, staging available for hire at reasonable cost with lighting. It is flexible in design and use and can be transported to local venues in a trailer. Our choir members have found it a great Improvement on our previous arrangements with comfortable seating and very quiet when members stand and sit. For further information please contact

If you have space to include the following that would be great too:

Wellington Choral Society are singing the Armed Man – a Mass for Peace by Karl Jenkins this term together with works by Vaughan Williams and Elgar. We welcome new singers to come and join us and the The Armed Man is a good work for new singers to start on. For further information please look at our website:


CYMT Summer Music & Drama Holiday Course 2020 

Monday 3 August to Friday 7 August, 9.45am to 4pm daily.

An action-packed week of fun workshops in music, drama & much more, for all 10-18s.

Apply online at

here is an intriguing invitation for one of you out there to consider.


Hi Taunton Association of Performing Arts. I thought I would contact you about an event we are running next year at Butlins in Minehead to see if you or any of your members would like to be involved. If you watch the video below you can see how two musicians contributed this year and had a big impact on a number of people. We would love to speak to any other musicians, singers, actors, dancers etc who would like to help next time.   Here’s the pitch:   For the last 2 years we have run an event at Butlins in Minehead to promote diversity. The event aims to increase awareness of the barriers faced by different sections of our communities as well as dismiss inaccurate stereotypes that in many cases create these barriers. All of the information is in the form of interactive games and activities that have been set by local groups and interested parties, using the Butlins facilities. There is a video here which explains everything I think: Anyway, we attempt to cover as many subjects as possible but the more experts we have at the event the more powerful the messages. If you would be interested in helping us with next year’s event by setting an interactive challenge we think it could make a real difference to a lot of people. Please watch the video though, it’s much better than I’ve made it sound.   Please get in touch if you are interested, happy to discuss further in person or over the phone etc.