A Carlisle firm is helping major British orchestras return to the stage.
Circular 1 Health has pledged to donate 1,700 COVID-19 screening tests to the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester next month to help make sure performances remain COVID secure.
The Philharmonia Orchestra has several performances planned for London’s Royal Festival Hall and the Hallé’s summer season will take place in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall.
The initiative was spearheaded by Circular 1 Health laboratory technician Matt Parry, a professional trombonist, who began working with the company during lockdown when the national tour of Hairspray the Musical was cancelled.
Matt said the opportunity for him to combine his passion with his new career was one he couldn’t pass up: “I’ve been playing in concert halls and theatres for over 15 years and watching the shutters go up through lockdown was heart-breaking.
“Now thanks to the support of my employer I’m able to give something back and ensure music gets back on its feet whilst ensuring everyone is kept safe.”
The tests will be distributed to the orchestras on weekly in batches of 100 so there are enough tests to regularly screen both ensembles ahead of each performance.
Alexander Van Ingen, Philharmonia’s chief executive, said: “We are ecstatic to be returning to make music for a real live audience from June 4, and understandably there’s still a level of nervousness around safety.
“Thanks to the partnership with Circular 1, our musicians can feel confident and ready to perform at their best, and we know that a positive result can be swiftly isolated so the rest of the orchestra can continue playing without having to cancel concerts.”