The Imperial College Sinfonietta, one of the orchestras at Imperial – not the flagship orchestra, but better! (In my opinion…)
Well, I learned to play violin. I used to be quite good, so I thought, yeah, good idea, I’ll join an orchestra!
What and Where?
We tend to play a pretty big orchestral piece, a slightly smaller one and a concerto-type each term. At the moment we are playing Mahler 1, Finlandia and selections from La Boheme. We do really good stuff, and have fun doing it too – we recently did Elgar Enigma Variations, Tschaikovsky 6 and a load more which I can’t remember (my memory for pieces I’ve played is rubbish).
We sometimes rehearse on a Sunday, and normally have an extra rehearsal before the concert.
One of the best things about Sinfonietta is that we get free biscuits and tea in the break between halves of the rehearsal. Win!
In the summer term there are only a couple of rehearsals, as most people have too much to do by way of coursework and exams. It works out pretty well, and nice to have a reunion when we haven’t seen each other for ages!
After rehearsals on Mondays we go to the Holland Club, a rather exclusive privilege as it’s normally only open to post-grads. This is open till 11 pm, and normally well attended.
After Sunday rehearsals there is normally a social (we do a barn dance at least once a term), and these normally have extra-special tea breaks.
We also do a weekend away, having been to Salisbury the past two years and Canterbury the years before that. The whole orchestra decamps to the town on a Saturday morning (very early) and rehearses during the day. The night involves a quiz, partying and ‘sleeping’ in the youth hostel, followed by a light rehearsal on Sunday. The last two years has given members of the orchestra a chance to conduct, to stop everyone thinking it’s so easy!
TOUR! Sinfonietta is the only orchestra at IC which goes on tour to a foreign place once a year. In recent years they have been to Croatia, Romania and Germany…this year, we are off to Portugal. Next year, who knows!
We do one in the winter and spring terms. Summer term is mainly just tour rehearsals, and in a typical tour we have two or three.
You pay £17 (roughly) for the whole year, which includes all rehearsals, free tea and biscuits and the chance to play in a proper orchestra.
The weekend away is around £40 and the tour roughly £300, although it depends on specifics. This year it has been a bit cheaper.