Our President, Siobhan Connellan, 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.
CUSO's Conductor, Henry Websdale, conducts the orchestra! Together with the President and the other Conductor, he also makes the final decisions on repertoire (after an orchestral vote).
CUSO's Conductor, Simon Fraser, conducts the orchestra! Together with the President and the other Conductor, he also makes the final decisions on repertoire (after an orchestral vote).
Our Concert Manager, Venus Ma, handles booking of concert and rehearsal venues, and is responsible for producing programmes and tickets for each concert.
Our Librarian, Sophie Chua, hires and provides the sheet music for everyone in the orchestra.
Our Orchestral Manager, Joanna Cheng, ensures that everything—stands, chairs and even musicians—is in place so that the orchestra can rehearse and perform. She also arranges instrument hire for the orchestra, and fixes players for concerts.
Our Publicity Officer, Eva Barnett, makes sure that our concerts get the audiences they deserve, through production of posters and flyers, and liaising with local and student press.
Our Social Secretary, Meg Wheeler, ensures that there's juice and biscuits at every rehearsal, helps organise social events and makes sure we have a great party after every concert!
Our Junior Treasurer, Christel Lim, 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!
Simon is a third year music student at Christ's College, where he is also a choral scholar. He began conducting when at the Junior Department of the Royal Northern College of Music, where he studied with the Polish conductor Ewa Strusinska. During his time in Cambridge, he has conducted the Christ's College Music Society Orchestra, and assisted in the direction of the Chapel Choir, and is currently engaged in reviving the University Pops Orchestra.
Besides conducting, Simon is also an oboist, studying with Celia Nicklin as part of the CAMRAM scheme. He has played with many of the main University ensembles, and is also an active chamber musician, having held an Instrumental Award for two years.
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 be assured that, whatever your standard, there's something there for you. There are many different types of orchestras 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 Cambridge Concert Calendar to get an idea of the kind of concerts that are going on.
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)
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)
'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)
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!