This policy contains the Orchestra’s Ethos Statement as approved by members at the 2019 Annual General Meeting together with some further detail of membership arrangements
The Oxford Studio Orchestra aims to be a welcoming, inclusive amateur orchestra where members can grow in their music-making in a friendly and constructive atmosphere.
We give three concerts a year. Our repertoire is classical music from 18th to 21st century, and we offer opportunities for local young soloists to perform concertos.
We aim to get the very best out of each player and the ensemble. Concert programmes are set after consultation with orchestra members, based on their suggestions. Over the course of the year we look to play a balanced set of pieces that we can perform well, and that may stretch us in terms of technique, interpretation, or ensemble.
We take our playing seriously, with the support of professional teachers in our sectional rehearsals. We also encourage our members to practise between rehearsals, and to give and receive feedback, so that we feel confident when we perform. Section leaders have a role in making sure that everyone in their section can perform to the best of their ability.
If you are interested in joining us, we often have vacancies, so please get in touch. There are no strict criteria for joining: our rule-of-thumb is from around Grade 6 standard upwards, recognising that some players will not have taken exams.
We don’t have formal auditions. Potential new members join us for a trial period so that both sides can assess musical fit.
In the brass and wind sections we have one player per part, but if there isn’t a current vacancy, we can add you to our list of deputies.
The orchestra is managed by a committee which is elected from different sections of the orchestra. Legally, the orchestra is a charity: elected committee members are also charity trustees. We cover our costs through membership subscriptions and concert income.
Aspiring members should contact the Secretary. There is a contact form on the website and also direct phone and email contact details.
In string sections there is some flexibility in numbers of players, subject to the balance between sections being reasonable so it will often be possible to invite the applicant to attend a rehearsal and see if they would like to join.
In other sections the policy of one player per part means that vacancies only occur when previous players leave or are temporarily absent. We maintain a list of people who have applied to join and when a vacancy occurs we will invite a suitable applicant to attend a rehearsal to see how suitable the orchestra is for them.
In cases where an additional player is required for a specific concert (e.g. 3rd flute/piccolo), temporary membership will apply for the relevant rehearsals and concert.
New members will initially join the orchestra for a trial period of up to one term. If the Conductor and the other members of the section are happy at or before the end of the trial period that a suitable standard of playing has been demonstrated the membership will become permanent. If a suitable standard has not been demonstrated by the end of the trial period the membership will normally be terminated.
The subscription rates are set each year at the Annual General Meeting. Members are encouraged to pay by standing order; those who choose not to are expected to pay their termly subscription by the fourth week of term.
Allocation of parts
In the string sections, the leader of the section will organise seating appropriately
In other sections, players may agree between them who plays which parts in order to give a variety of experience. However, the Conductor may override such agreements in the interests of getting the best results from the available players.
Members are expected to attend as many rehearsals as they can and to inform the Secretary and/or their Section leader in advance when they are unable to attend. A member who is unable to play in a concert should inform the Secretary and their Section leader as soon as possible, preferably by the start of the rehearsal period.
If, in the opinion of the Conductor, a player has not attended sufficient rehearsals to be proficient in the concert they may be told not to take part.
Members may borrow their parts for the purpose of practising
However, if they expect to be missing a rehearsal they should leave their parts in the music case in the rehearsal hall so that other players can use it in their absence.
Note that, for many works, parts can be downloaded for rehearsal purposes from imslp.org. A pencil should be brought to rehearsals in order to mark up instructions from the conductor, bowings for strings etc. An eraser is also useful to remove unwanted markings.
Parts must be handed back when requested and after the last usage in a concert.
Members should bring a music stand to rehearsals and concerts, plus any ancillary equipment needed for their instrument (mutes, stands etc).
Players of wind and brass instruments that drop water on the floor should bring a means of wiping it up or containing it.
During rehearsals, members are expected not to talk or practice passages when the Conductor or Leader is talking.
Maintenance of standards
If, in the opinion of the Conductor, the standard of a member’s playing (e.g. accuracy, phrasing, intonation, tone, or ensemble) is below that which is acceptable, the problem will be raised with the member who will be given an opportunity to overcome the problem.
Should the problem continue at an unacceptable level the player’s membership will be terminated.
Termination of membership
When a member decides to leave the orchestra or their membership is terminated, any pre-paid subscription will, on the ex-members request, be repaid to them.
The Committee may decide to bestow Life Membership on members who have made an outstanding contribution to the Orchestra e.g. for over 10 years. Such membership entitles the recipient to up to 2 free tickets for any concerts organised by the Orchestra.
Policy availability and review
This policy will be made available to all the Orchestra’s members and reviewed from time to time by the Committee.
This is version 1 of this policy, approved by the Committee on 1/5/2022.