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Third-year cellist and Secretary of this year’s Music Society, Aisha Bové, looks at the start to the orchestral year.

Madam Secretary!

Filling Eliot Hall with music from 7.30, Thursday night is rehearsal time for the University Symphony Orchestra. The newly-formed orchestra is now slowly getting on the way with preparing the pieces for the Grand Gala Opening in December. The third rehearsal of the year took place last week, and it is good to see that the orchestra is starting form a unity, which is always the tricky part of each new academic year.

Following our conductor’s plan, we warmed up with a bit of Elgar’s ‘Enigma’ Variations, playing No.6 and taking it to pieces, then adding No.5, 4 and 3. The rehearsal was without our brass players, which meant that we could concentrate on the strings and woodwind sections, before putting it all back together next week with the complementing Brass and Percussion players. Our main aim was to get the idea of running the different Enigma ‘variations’, playing them without stopping to get an idea of the running of the concert performance. Elgar’s portrayal of his friends means that each variation has got a very specific tone, and moods change rapidly.

To break up the hard work on Enigma Variations, we played through bits of Carmina Burana, which is all about rhythms and percussive sounds. It is very challenging due to its changing of bar values and paces. Nevertheless we are slowly getting to grips with Carl Orff’s piece and the way it’s supposed to sound. Personally, I think it is crucial to listen to recordings in order to get your head around this scenic cantata – and my attending of chorus rehearsals makes me comprehend how it all fits together. In my opinion, the complementing use of the Cellos alongside the sopranos, during Orff’s soprano phrase containing the dreaded top C, is interesting as it creates a blending sound between the high registers of the choir and parts of the lower section of the orchestra.

The orchestra is very much looking forward to being able to finally rehearse in the Colyer-Fergusson Building (especially since every rehearsal this year suffers under the inconsiderate attitude of some students, casually walking through Eliot Hall: Campus Watch, thanks for looking after us!). In the words of our Director of Music: “TTNY” (This Time Next Year). But maybe next week, we’ll risk saying TTNW!

Aisha Bové

About Daniel Harding

Head of Music Performance, University of Kent: pianist, accompanist and conductor: jazz enthusiast.
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