Our President, Joanna Cheng, is responsible for the overall running of the orchestra. She deals with things like auditions, sponsorship, tours, rehearsal venues, and many of the numerous odd-jobs that crop up.
Our Concert Manager, Tara Hill, handles booking of concert and rehearsal venues, and is responsible for producing programmes and tickets for each concert.
Our Librarian, Siobhan Connellan, hires and provides the sheet music for everyone in the orchestra.
Our Orchestral Manager, Zack Millar, ensures that everything—stands, chairs and even musicians—is in place so that the orchestra can rehearse and perform. He also arranges instrument hire for the orchestra, and fixes players for concerts.
Our Junior Treasurer, Rachel Wong, manages the orchestra's finances, and liaises with the Charity Commission and University authorities.
Our Webmaster, Imdad Sardharwalla, designs and updates the website to let everyone know what we're up to!
Joshua Ballance is in his third year studying music at King's College Cambridge, where he is an academic scholar and a recipient of a Jasper Ridley Prize for his academic work. Alongside this he conducts, composes and plays the cello. His interest in conducting began with the student conducting programme of the LSSO, before going on to study with Roland Melia. Having won CUSO's conducting competition, he took over as their senior conductor in April, and had his first concert with them in May. He conducts extensively with King's College Music Society: recent performances include Sibelius' Second Symphony and Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune. Last summer he attended the Aberystwyth Festival conducting course, receiving coaching from Toby Purser, and has previously taken part in masterclasses including with Michael Seal and Nicholas Cleobury.
Joshua has a particular passion for contemporary music, which has led him towards composition, studying with Dr Sinan Savaskan, Dr Christian Mason, and currently with Julian Anderson. He has been commissioned by the Octandre Ensemble, as well as spending a year as a composer with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and has taken part in the Darmstadt International Course for New Music. His music has been performed in many prestigious venues around the country including Westminster Abbey, the chapels of King's, Trinity, and Clare Colleges, Cambridge, and The Tate Britain Gallery.
Comments from the Press
We love it when the media say nice things about us! Here are a few comments from some of our concerts.
Concert Venue: West Road Concert Hall, Friday 18th May 2012
Programme: Shostakovich Festival Overture, Strauss Second Horn Concerto, Borodin Symphony No. 2
Shostakovich’s Festive Overture got the concert off to an emphatic beginning ... There was plenty of clear, precise and rhythmic playing throughout from the orchestra.
Some beautiful and lyrical playing in the Andante of the Borodin... some particularly fine playing too from woodwind throughout the movement.
Concert Venue: West Road Concert Hall, Thursday 1st March 2012
Programme: Sibelius Violin Concerto, Shostakovich Symphony No. 5
Intense magic in the quiet moments, as well as the loud ones, isn't something one necessarily expects from a student orchestra. Yet the way in which CUSO lifted the solo violin's gently twisting utterances up and away into nothing at the end of the slow movement was impressive.
In Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony, CUSO proved they could do muscular brutality just as well as delicacy ... The brass section's full-blooded sound was inexhaustible the whole night.
Music in Cambridge
Applying to Cambridge? Arriving in the new year?
If so, the musical scene may seem a little confusing or overwhelming to you at the moment. Cambridge is probably the most musical university in the country - there can be several concerts on every night, with accompanying rehearsals, and if you’re not careful, it can be very easy to overstretch yourself. Having said that, quality is immensely variable so you may assured that, whatever your standard, there’s something there for you. There are many different types of orchestra in Cambridge - independent, college and university - and below can be found a brief guide, together with some information about the other performance opportunities available here. You may also want to look at the cammuso website to get an idea of the kind of concerts which are going on.
Disclaimer: we’ve tried to be as honest as possible in writing this, on the grounds that you’ll figure it out soon enough anyway, so apologies if groups take offence—do feel free to email the webmaster.
College and Independent orchestras
College orchestras are non-audition affairs and, although affiliated to a college, generally will beg and borrow players from wherever they can to make up numbers. Standards vary considerably (largely dependent on the size of the fixer’s contact list and reputation for parties).
The college music societies often also promote the work of independent orchestras, which have seen a massive rise over the past few years as many students have tried ‘having a go’ at conducting. Entry to these tends to be by invitation, and quality is - though largely dependent on the conductor - generally rather high. Often these will put on lesser-known works disfavoured by college and university orchestras, or student compositions.
CUSO (Cambridge University Symphony Orchestra)chevron_left
It's difficult to avoid being biased, but here goes: CUSO is a student-run symphony orchestra of approximately the same standard as CUS (see below). It was created in 1990 to give students a chance to conduct a high quality orchestra, and to give players the opportunity to make good music in a friendly atmosphere. We like to think we achieve this, and have had some notable successes in the past few years, including our silver anniversary concert a couple of years ago, and a number of very successful tours (Hungary 2001, Germany 2003, Czech Republic 2006).
Our repertoire mostly consists of various symphonic works, usually along with a shorter piece to round out the concert. We hold a concerto competition each year which provides the opportunity for students at the university to perform as soloists with the orchestra. Some concertos performed in recent years include Grieg's Piano Concerto and Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2.
Socially, the orchestra is quite close-knit, and formal halls, curries etc. are regularly organised together with regular post-rehearsal pub trips! We do ask for some commitment - one rehearsal a week (with a few extras) - but we are quite sure you’ll find it worth the effort!
CUMS (Cambridge University Musical Society)chevron_left
‘The Establishment’, CUMS is the largest musical organisation in Cambridge. It consists of an elite Orchestra (CUO) performing both chamber and symphonic works, the Sinfonia (CUS), a Wind Orchestra (CUWO), a Chamber Choir, and a Chorus. The whole organisation is run by a managing committee composed mostly of students, while each ensemble is managed by a subcommittee of students. After two rounds of auditions, players are allocated an ensemble, with the very best gaining places in CUO, the next best gaining places in CUS, then CUWO.
CUWO is conducted by students, while CUO works with various professional conductors and CUS is conducted by both professionals and students. CUWO has weekly rehearsals like CUSO, CUO has a week of intensive rehearsals preceding each concert, and CUS varies between these two rehearsal processes. All CUMS ensembles require a small annual subscription fee which allows them to bring in professional coaching and conductors.
CUO is of an extremely high standard, and attendance is quite strict in order to ensure the concerts are of the best possible quality. If you like Mozart, it doesn’t get better than this (in Cambridge, at any rate!), and in recent years the Chamber Orchestra has also put on a number of exciting concerts of twentieth-century repertoire.
CUMS has considerable resources, and is thus able to put on very ambitious works which no other orchestra in Cambridge could contemplate. Every year there are usually a couple of concerts which include a choir, which may be a good or a bad thing depending whether or not you like choral music! CUWO and CUS have also been on tours to various places in Europe in the past few years.
Essentially, if you want the opportunity to work with professional conductors with relatively intense (but rewarding) rehearsals, you’ll want to audition for CUMS.
UCPO (University of Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra)chevron_left
A non-audition university orchestra, UCPO prides itself on its social life. Being non-auditioned, quality can be variable, and the orchestral balance interesting, but there are some excellent players, and particularly soloists, in the orchestra. If you are looking for a laugh with minimum commitment, UCPO is well worth a look.
For more information, see http://ucpo.org.uk/
Chamber music and Solo performance
All of the main university orchestras audition for concerto soloists, so if you are of a suitable standard watch out for emails and posters inviting candidates. Chamber music and solo recitals (with the exception of the prestigious Instrumental Award Scheme) tend to take place under the auspices of the various colleges, with many (notably including Caius, John’s and Selwyn) having weekly performances. (Contact details for these are usually readily available on the web or in college handbooks). Many new chamber partnerships are formed in the first weeks of the year so don’t be afraid to advertise in the Music Faculty or in college email circulars etc. if you’re looking for someone with whom to play, whether for performance or for fun!