Orchestra of the month
ENUO intend on putting one member orchestra in the spotlight every month. With this we hope to offer you a peek behind the scenes of how each orchestra is organized, by whom the orchestra is run, what kind of programs have been played and are to be expected in the future etc. The only criteria is that all information should be in english, otherwise we give the member orchestras the complete artistic freedom to present their orchestra and university in their own way. Do you think your orchestra should be next on stage? Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org and find out when you will be next.
March 2023: Dortmund University Orchestra
History and structure
A classical symphony orchestra at a university of technology? The special profile of TU Dortmund University - the combination of nature, culture and technology - is reflected in the university orchestra. The members of the orchestra hail not only from the music department, but also from the faculties of natural science, engineering and many other fields at our TU. Creativity can be expressed on the university campus with the particle accelerator as well as on a musical level. Hence our motto: music meets technology.
The Dortmund University Orchestra was founded in 1990 by Prof. Werner Abegg. It was subsequently directed by Werner Seiss and Prof. Ingo Ernst Reihl and, since fall 2022, by Julian Pontus Schirmer. The orchestra is supported by the University alongside many other music ensembles like the university choir, Wind Ensemble and Bands. Rehearsals take place every Tuesday during the academic term, with one or two concerts in the end of each term.
Dortmund University Orchestra regularly carries out special projects on top of the classical concert format - most recently, a conversational concert on physics in James Bond with experimental physicist Metin Tolan. In June 2023, this format will go into the second round with "Star Trek - galactic music with a little physics" at Dortmund Concert Hall. In January 2024, the orchestra will perform a silent movie with live music at the Lichtburg in Essen, Germany's largest cinema.
In addition to the University Orchestra, TU Dortmund University also has a Chamber Orchestra since 2023. This student orchestra works on demanding orchestral literature during its rehearsal phases. The inaugural concert took place on a special occasion. As part of the "Sound and Construction" course, students from the Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering provided an Ibach grand piano from 1907 with a newly designed, globally unique shell made of multiplex. This grand piano was inaugurated with a new composition by composer Jona Kümper and Mozart's 12th Piano Concerto.
Since autumn 2022, the young German conductor Julian Pontus Schirmer is head of university music at TU Dortmund. As a guest conductor, he performs with orchestras such as Musikkollegium Winterthur, Neue Philharmonie Westfalen and Philharmonie Baden-Baden. Previously, during his studies, he was engaged as conductor at Heidelberg Municipal Theatre from 2018 to 2020. As a trained violinist and violist, Julian Pontus Schirmer has played in the German National Youth Orchestra, among others. He studied musicology in Berlin and orchestra conducting with Prof. Gunter Kahlert, Prof. Nicolás Pasquet and Prof. Ekhart Wycik in Weimar.
June 2022: Orchestre Symphonique Étudiant de Toulouse
The orchestra has a dual objective. On the one hand, to allow students and teachers to continue practicing their instrument in parallel with their studies or their work, through an artistic project and an efficient rehearsal programme on the university's premises. On the other hand, to promote classical music, especially among students.
Facebook : @orchestre.etudiant.tlse
Instagram : @osetoulouse
Youtube : Orchestre Étudiant de Toulouse
Twitter : @OSET_Toulouse
The piano is not often featured in symphony orchestra programmes, but many student pianists contact us to try to create a programme where they can express themselves. Finally, we have chosen to hold a pianists' concert once a year, where chamber music formations around the piano allow the orchestra's musicians to change format, for an evening, around this essential instrument. Have a look at last year's edition : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf-Lz357oy0&list=PLMxuN5ztT-AzXlUssgqvBnyVMLNFwqoX-&index=2
May 2022: Akademiska Kapellet
History and structure
The Lund University Academic Orchestra, with about 60 members, is the symphony orchestra of the Lund University students. The Conductor and Artistic Director is the University’s Director of Music, Patrik Andersson. The Lund University Academic Orchestra was established in 1745 to provide music for the University’s ceremonies and is thus Sweden’s third-oldest orchestra.
In addition to playing at academic ceremonies, the Lund University Academic Orchestra performs concerts, featuring symphonic works such as symphonies by Bruckner, Brahms and Tchaikovsky in Odeum’s event series. The orchestra regularly goes out on tour and visits other universities in Sweden and abroad, such as Stanford University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. As a member of Lund University Academic Orchestra, you also have an opportunity to apply for Odeum’s scholarships and to perform as a soloist with the orchestra.
The Toulouse Student Symphony Orchestra usually collaborates once a year with the Toulouse Student Choir on a programme involving around 120 musicians and choristers. The Gloria programme had been planned two years earlier, but postponed due to the health crisis. It was therefore a great joy to be able to present it to the public on 28 and 29 March 2022. Listen to a previous concert https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uODX5MfVqt8 or have a look at the Toulouse Student Choir website : www.choet.fr.
The Lund University Academic Orchestra rehearses every Wednesday. Odeum’s ensemble is open to everyone, but most members are students.
One of the best things about the rehearsals with Akademiska kapellet is the dedicated weekly time to focus on something else than your schoolwork for a couple of hours and direct all of your attention to the music. In addition to the playing itself, a large part of the rehearsals is meeting new people that you might never have encountered otherwise. The orchestra has a mix of international students and people of different ages studying various fields. New members join the orchestra every semester, so there is always someone new to get to know. When it comes to concerts, it is always fun to finally be able to show what you have been working on for several months. The crowded audience and the beautiful venues we perform in almost make it feel like you are part of a professional orchestra, even though most of us are amateurs. (Monna Salim, violin)
The Academic Orchestra accepts applications at any time, but it can be easier to secure a place if you apply at the beginning of a semester.
Patrik Andersson is the Director of Music at Lund University and Head of Department for its music centre, Odeum, as well as the Conductor and Artistic Director of the Lund University Academic Orchestra. Patrik has written several textbooks on conducting orchestras: "Orkesterdirigering. Partituranalys, gestik och ledarskap", Studentlitteratur 2013, ("Orchestral conducting. Score analysis, gestic and leadership") and "Orkesterledning. Ledarskap, gruppsykologi och orkesterkultur i arbetet med orkestern", Odeum/Lund University 2015, ("Orchestral leadership. Leadership, group psychology and orchestral culture in work with an orchestra"). Beside books on conducting Patrik has also written about music philosophy such as the book “Musik, mening och värde. Filosofiska perspektiv på en värld av eget slag”, Gidlunds 2020, (“Musik, Meaning and Value. Philosophical perspectives on a world of its own”).
Patrik Andersson has studied musicology at Lund University and has a degree in composition and vocal coaching. He has also studied orchestral conducting at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. His tutors in conducting have included Michel Tabachnik, Pierre Boulez and Herbert Blomstedt.
Follow Lund University Academic Orchestra on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AkademiskaKapelletILund
Follow Lund University Academic Orchestra on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/akademiskakapelletlund/
April 2022: VU Orkest
History and structure
The VU-Orchestra belongs to the Vrije Universiteit (Free University, VU) in Amsterdam. It was founded in 1962 by Berthe Smit and was conducted by Otto Klap from the beginning. In 1975 Daan Admiraal took over. He conducted the orchestra for more than 40 years until his passing in 2018. Since 2021, the orchestra has been conducted by Arjan Tien. What started as a small chamber orchestra, has grown into a big symphony orchestra in the past 60 years. Thanks to the enormous dedication of the members and conductor, the orchestra is one of the biggest and most pioneering student orchestras of the Netherlands.
The repertoire is decided by the program committee, consisting of several orchestra members and the conductor. When putting together the repertoire, wishes from other members are attentively considered, as well as elements like challenge and innovation. Every semester we start a new program, which are concluded with two concerts in prominent concert locations, such as the Concertgebouw, Muziekgebouw aan het IJ, or the Philips Muziekgebouw Eindhoven. Smaller ensembles often provide music at university events. In summer, we go on tour to a foreign location.
The orchestra currently has around 75 members, nearly all of whom are students. We rehearse every Wednesday evening in a hybrid lecture/theatre hall in the newest building of the VU. This building hosts academics as well as the cultural organizations of the VU and therefore allows for a lively mixture of arts and education. Members also often get together outside of rehearsal time to play chamber music.
Dutch conductor Arjan Tien, winner of the Rotary-Fallerprize in 1997, studied the violin and viola at the conservatory of Utrecht where he graduated summa cum laude and with honors in 1994. Later, he studied conducting with George Hurst, Roberto Benzi and Jean Fournet. In
the Netherlands, he is considered one of the most active and versatile conductors of his generation. Since 2017, he is the chief conductor and artistic director of the Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy, but he still often gets invited as a guest conductor to orchestras all over the world. In 2021, after an application process that took two years due to COVID, he became the chief conductor of the VU-Orchestra.
Current projects: 60-year anniversary
This month, the VU-Orchestra will be playing its first concerts since the start of the pandemic.
First, the orchestra will look back at the pandemic with Thin Air by Calliope Tsoupaki. Tsoupaki composed this piece for the Festivals for Compassion. Without interruption, the piece continues in Tod und Verklärung by Richard Strauss. The ethereal ending of the piece symbolizes the start of a new chapter for the VU-Orchestra.
Next, we will play two vivacious pieces: Symphonic Dances from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, and parts from the suites of Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. These two interpretations of Shakespeare’s romantic drama challenge the orchestra to quickly switch from groovy swing to Russian ballet music. Both pieces refer to Tsoupaki’s ode to compassion and solidarity. Loss and difficult times echo through the pieces, but in the end, love prevails.
After the concerts in April, we will start an opera project with the Dutch Reisopera. The opera La bohème by Puccini tells the dramatic love story of Mimi and Rodolfo. In our 80- minute rendition of the story, the most beloved arias are featured, as well as artwork made by Fine Arts students from ArtEZ, an art academy based in Arnhem.
For tickets, please see our website: www.vu-orkest.nl/kaartverkoop
December 2021: Orchestre Universitaire de Strasbourg
Strasbourg University Orchestra brings together students, alumni, professors and staff members of the University of Strasbourg since 1961. Created by Erwin List as a chamber music orchestra, it has been growing to reach its present symphonic formation.
75 musicians, most of whom are students, make the University Orchestra a key artistic player within the University of Strasbourg. As the orchestra welcomes each year new musicians, it is also a tremendous catalyst to facilitate the integration of new students, especially international ones who are discovering the vibrant life the Strasbourg campus offers.
The orchestra rehearses up to twice a week, on Monday and/or Tuesday evenings, to prepare about 15 concerts per year in Strasbourg, Alsace and abroad.
A LEADING CULTURAL ACTOR OF STRASBOURG UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY
Strasbourg University Orchestra performs every year in Strasbourg and around in Alsace, in symphonic formation, through baroque ensemble or in smaller chamber music ensembles.
15 concerts are performed every year and turn to be very popular among local students. All public concerts are free and open to all. Providing equal access to orchestra musical culture has lain at the very heart of the orchestra’s DNA. It is fully committed to widening access to symphonic and orchestral music, as well as chamber music, by performing works from the repertoire as well as more eclectic pieces. For many amateurs and neophytes, for the students on the Strasbourg campus, Strasbourg University Orchestra is a gateway to symphonic and chamber music.
Musical seasons are intense,making Strasbourg University Orchestra one of the most active university orchestras in France and in Europe. In 2021/2022, the university orchestra celebrates its 60th anniversary through an exceptional season with guests, numerous projects and concerts with our public.
Follow our latest news on our website.
EUROPE AT HEART
Every year, Strasbourg University Orchestra participates in exchanges with other university orchestras or in international projects. In recent years, it has welcomed the university orchestras of Aachen, Bremen, Heidelberg, Weimar and Dresden (Germany), Milan and Bologna (Italy), Vienna (Austria), Lille (France), Dublin (Ireland), and Maastricht (Netherlands). Every year, it organises exchanges and tours in Europe. The orchestra took part several times in the International Festival of University Music (FIMU) in Belfort. Strasbourg University Orchestra is also a founding member of the European Network of University Orchestras (ENUO).
Strasbourg University Orchestra took part to ESOF, the European Student Orchestra Festival in Leuven, Belgium in 2015 and 2017. From June 6 to 10, 2018, Strasbourg University Orchestra hosted the 4th edition of ESOF, for the first tour of the festival. Eight university orchestras from across Europe came to Strasbourg to join this groundbreaking event.
The orchestra participates on a regular basis in major European events in Strasbourg, European capital. Strasbourg University Orchestra was particularly honoured to perform during the ceremony of tribute to Helmut Kohl at the European Parliament on July 1, 2017.
Through projects of international scale and the involvement of many European and international students within the orchestra, Strasbourg University Orchestra carries a strong European commitment.
More information on our website or on our Wikipedia page.
To listen to the university orchestra, please visit our website. You may also discover the orchestra in an interpretation of the European anthem during Europe Day in Strasbourg.
Since 2010, the university orchestra is under the baton of Corinna Niemeyer. In September 2020, she was appointed artistic and musical director of the Luxembourg Chamber Orchestra. This appointment follows a two-year term as assistant conductor at the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra for the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 seasons. She will step down as conductor of the university orchestra at the conclusion of the 2021/2022 season.
For the 2021/2022 season which marks its 60th anniversary, Strasbourg University Orchestra has chosen to invite two young conductors: Mauro Mariani and Eric Staiger. Both are finalists of a conducting competition organised by the orchestra in the summer of 2021. Mauro and Eric are studying conducting at the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt in Weimar with professors Nicolás Pasquet and Ekhart Wycik. Each will conduct in turn a series of symphonic concerts during the season.
More information on our website.
November 2021: Orquestra Académica da Universidade de Coimbra (OAUC)
"I'm finally moving to Coimbra, to study in Universidade de Coimbra! But I want to take my Viola and everything I learnt in the music conservatory with me!"
"My academic life cannot be all about studying. I'd love to keep playing the piano regularly!"
This was the motivation we were missing. It made us create a space where every musician from Universidade de Coimbra could enjoy playing in a symphonic orchestra. Students, alumni, professors and everyone else from our university is very welcome to join this project.
OAUC was founded in 2016 out of a partnership between Tuna Académica of University of Coimbra (TAUC) and the Rectoral Team of University of Coimbra. This symphonic orchestra is present in the most solemn moments of the academic year.
Tuna Académica da Universidade de Coimbra
Tuna Académica da Universidade de Coimbra (TAUC) is one of the oldest cultural and academic groups of Universidade de Coimbra, and its main goal is to promote traditional musical practice within the university community.
Founded in 1888, TAUC currently has eight distinct groups: the Orchestra, which combines classical instruments with traditional music instruments, such as the classical guitar and the mandolin. Big Band Rags, which is mainly dedicated to jazz and light music. Grupo de Fados, since Fado de Coimbra is the great tradition of our city, with instruments like the Portuguese guitar. TAUC also has a Brass Group, a String Quartet and the Jazz Ensemble. It has a School of Music and was the founder of the great OAUC project.
Universidade de Coimbra
Back in 1290, king D. Dinis signed Scientiae thesaurus mirabilis, the document that raised the oldest University in our country and one of the oldest in the world.
Initially confined to the Royal Palace, the University was extended to the whole city of Coimbra, modifying its landscape and turning it into the Academic City.
Studying at Universidade de Coimbra is to continue the history of the country's intellectual matrix, which has formed some of the most outstanding personalities in culture, science and national politics.
With an undeniable historical heritage, Universidade de Coimbra and its 730 years of existence have been considered a UNESCO World Heritage, since 2013.
Over these five years, OAUC has promoted several activities. One of their repertoire aspirations is to explore music written by portuguese composers, such as Joly Braga Santos, Francisco Lacerda and Luís de Freitas Branco. In that sense, we premiered pieces by the contemporary composers Carlos Firmino, Luís Cardoso (for the 730th anniversary of the university) and David Miguel (for the 5th anniversary of the orchestra), all composed for this orchestra.
Here, we highlight some of our most special concerts:
September 2016. This was the day that it all became real in Teatro Académico de Gil Vicente. Our first concert ever! Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIHTIpu0x_8.
March 2020. With the motto “Universis”, OAUC celebrates the 730th anniversary of the University of Coimbra. With the collaboration of Coro Misto da Universidade de Coimbra (CMUC) and Orfeon Académico sd Coimbra (OAC), we took on stage the premiere of a piece by composer Luís Cardoso. This work was inspired by the Scientiae thesaurus mirabilis and shaped by influences from its historical heritage and identity matrix. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5ozZlKiFVY.
The orchestra is present in certain important moments of the University: the opening of the academic year, in September, the opening of the university's cultural week (and “University Day”), in March, and in the “Summer University” program to show the university to future students, in July. Besides, it hosts joint concerts with other academic orchestras (an event called “Encontro de Orquestras Académicas”) usually around November. OAUC has played 15 concerts so far, with the next one happening on the 6th of this month.
During the pandemic, OAUC had to adapt and hosted the Encontro de Orquestras online (via talks between national conductors and videos on our social networks), and performed a small concert with a string orchestra on the “University Day”. This concert happened in an emblematic space of UC, Sala dos Capelos: https://youtu.be/6wjEYLSQ67U
Structure and Organization
The orchestra project is managed by an organizing committee made of members of the orchestra, and the conductor. This committee plans the rehearsals, concerts, activities, communication, and all the logistics that are necessary to the functioning of the orchestra. Check more about them here: https://www.uc.pt/oauc/comissao_organizadora
The rehearsals take place in the building of the Academic Association of Coimbra (AAC), in the rehearsal room of TAUC. This orchestra has between 60 and 80 musicians that can apply to the orchestra before each concert. If there are too many musicians that correspond to our selection criteria, we perform auditions. OAUC does not rehearse every week, but does it in intensive blocks almost everyday in the 2 weeks prior to each concert. It has musicians from all the faculties.
André Granjo is our main conductor and artistic director. At the age of 7, André Granjo started learning clarinet at the school of the Banda Filarmónica of Mamarrosa. Then, he completed his musical studies at the Music Conservatories of Aveiro and Coimbra. He started studying Anthropology at University of Coimbra in 1994 and between that year and 2014, he was conductor of Orchestra of Tuna Académica of University of Coimbra. In 1995, he founded the Big Band Rags at TAUC.
In 2005, he completed the Master’s Course in Orchestra Conducting of Wind Orchestra at Zuid-Nederlandse Hoogeschool fur Muziek in Maastricht, Netherlands, with conductor Jan Cober.
He has already been a guest conductor in Spain, France, Holland, England, Colombia, Costa Rica, Macau and the USA and directed groups such as the Orchestre des Jeunnes du Charantes (France), the wind ensemble of the Royal Northern College of Music, the North Texas Wind Symphony, among others.
He is a member of the Institute of Etnomusicology-Center for Music and Dance Studies and of the Advisory Board of the IGEB (International Society for Research and Promotion of Wind Music).
In july 2011, he performed with Banda de União Filarmónica do Troviscal at the International Congress of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles that took place at Chiayi, Taiwan.
Since february 2013, he has been co-director of the DeCA Wind Orchestra and an instructor in the Master of Wind Orchestra Direction at the same university. He is also the responsible for the Orchestras of JOBRA Music Conservatory and the Escola de Artes da Bairrada.
Leandro Alves is our assistant conductor. Leandro started his oboe studies at Professional and Artistic School of Vale do Ave - ARTAVE with Saul Silva and Domingos Freitas as professors. He has a degree in Music Teaching, variant of oboe, by the University of Aveiro, under the supervision of Pedro Ribeiro. He also studied at this institution with Professor Jean Michel Garreti.
Leandro has been an oboe professor at Conservatório de Música de Coimbra, at Academia de Artes de Chaves, at Regional Conservatory of Music of Vila Real and at the Regional Conservatory of Coimbra.
He attended the Master Degree in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Aveiro with Ernst Schelle. He has participated in Orchestra and Band Direction Courses and worked with several conductors, such as Douglas Bostock, Ernst Schelle, Jean-Sebastien Béreau, Jésus Médina, Luís Gustavo Petri and Roberto Montenegro, and with the Orquestra Filarmonia das Beiras, the Orchestra of Algarve, the Orquestra Clássica do Centro and the Ensemble of the Portuguese Symphonic Band.
He is the conductor of Santa Comba Dão Philharmonic Band, of Tuna Académica da Universidade de Coimbra and of Cascais Youth Orchestra and the assistant conductor of the Academic Orchestra of the University of Coimbra and of the Cascais and Oeiras Chamber Orchestra, working with the conductors André Granjo ad Nikolay Lalov.
He regularly conducts the Orquestra Filarmonia das Beiras as a guest conductor. Recently directed the Coimbra Wind Orchestra, the Orquestra Clássica do Centro, the Vibrations Orchestra, the Cascais and Oeiras Chamber Orchestra at the 43rd Estoril Music Festival - Lisbon and the Orquestra Filarmonia das Beiras at the Coimbra World Piano Meeting.
“How can I learn more about OAUC?”, you might ask.
You can visit our website and follow our social media!
October 2021: Akademiska Orkestern vid Åbo Akademi
The Royal Academy of Turku (Åbo) was founded by Count Per Brahe in 1640 during the reign of Queen Christina, as the third university in the Swedish kingdom. From the very beginning, academic festivities were celebrated with musical performances of the students. In 1747, the first permanent orchestra in Finland Akademiska Kapellet was founded to encourage the musical interests of the students. When the university was moved to Helsinki (Helsingfors) in 1828, the orchestra continued its activities under the direction of composer Fredrik Pacius.
In 1928, orchestral activities (directed by composer Alfred Anderssén) returned to its roots to the old capital Åbo, where the present Åbo Akademi University had been established ten years earlier. Akademiska Orkestern vid Åbo Akademi was founded to promote musical activities among the students at the university. In the beginning the orchestra was a small ensemble, but since 1993 Akademiska Orkestern has been a full symphony orchestra.
The orchestra has been directed by among others professor John Rosas and honorary Doctor of Philosophy Gottfrid Gräsbeck, who was appointed honorary member of the orchestra in 1992. Sauli Huhtala has been principal conductor and artistic director of Akademiska Orkestern since 1991.
Photo credit: Benedict Slotte
Currently Akademiska Orkestern consists of 60 musicians and its base is at Sibelius Museum, where the rehearsals are taking place. In addition to weekly rehearsals the orchestra has weekend and section rehearsals.
Akademiska Orkestern gives several concerts every year. In addition to these concerts, its traditions consist of academic festivities of Åbo Akademi University and the Christmas concerts together with the student choirs Florakören and Brahe Djäknar. Akademiska Orkestern also performs annually contemporary music including first performances. Akademiska Orkestern has a very close connection to the music of Jean Sibelius. Besides the classical repertoire, the orchestra has performed film music, tangos and folk music.
Orchestra's tours have always been great experiences to everyone. One of the absolute all-time highlights has been the tour to Slovakia and Austria, where the concert was sold out in Vienna. On this tour Akademiska Orkestern performed concertos of Grieg and Sibelius. Same kind of musical euphoria has been possible to feel in concert with Finnish bass Matti Salminen. Orchestra has had a great pleasure to have many great artists as its soloists, among others pianist Folke Gräsbeck, cellist Andreas Helling, violinist Christoph Ehrenfellner, soprano Camilla Nylund, soprano Therese Karlsson, mezzo-soprano Monica Groop, tenor Dan Karlström, entertainer/actor Viktor Klimenko, cellist Christoph Habicht, and mandolin player Dorina Frati. Furthermore, Akademiska Orkestern has given soloist possibilities to many young artists who study at Sibelius Academy.
In order to join our orchestra, you may apply for an audition at the beginning of every semester.
Sauli Huhtala studied orchestral conducting at the Music Academy in Vienna and at Sibelius Academy (Helsinki) by receiving a diploma in conducting with excellent grades. He has been principal conductor and artistic director of the Akademiska Orkestern since 1991. Sauli Huhtala is also known as a versatile musician whose specialties include contemporary music, Sibelius and Viennese music. As a composer, he has written music for symphony orchestra among others Bornholm Dances and Vision, Musik från Östersjöns stränder, I vågskål, and Jag ville vara havet. His most renowned work is music for the play Jederman.
In 2021 Akademiska Orkestern premiered his composition ”Por la Vida”.
ÅBO AKADEMI UNIVERSITY
Åbo Akademi University (www.abo.fi) has around 4,900 undergraduate students and 650 postgraduate students. Each year, Åbo Akademi University awards around 500 Master's and 65 Doctor's degrees.
TOURS DURING YEARS 2000 - 2018
Germany 2000 (Berlin, Potsdam)
Sweden 2001 (Stockholm, Uppsala)
Estonia 2002 (Tallinn, Tartu)
Sweden 2004 (Södertälje)
Russia 2005 (St. Petersburg, Vyborg)
Slovakia 2007 (Bratislava)
Austria 2007 (Vienna)
Germany 2012 (Heidelberg, Weinheim)
Sweden 2018 (Lund)
Denmark 2018 (Copenhagen)
STRUCTURE AND ORGANISATION
Although part of the university structure, the main organisation of the orchestra is made up of its members. During the recent years, in the course of the corona pandemic, Akademiska Orkestern has been able to keep musical connections. The orchestra has produced recordings and videos consisting of music of Sibelius, Huhtala and Haydn.
ANNUAL AXEL GABRIEL INGELIUS AWARD
Akademiska Orkestern has been giving annually on the 8th of December Axel Gabriel Ingelius Award as a recognition to a person who has made significant contributions to Finnish cultural and music life.
Axel Gabriel Ingelius wrote the first Finnish symphony. Akademiska Orkestern recorded the world premiere recording of the symphony in 2010. The critical version of this symphony was made by conductor Sauli Huhtala.
List of awards:
2017 Sebastian Fagerlund, composer
2018 Folke Gräsbeck, pianist
2019 Hannu Salmi, professor of cultural history
2020 Fabian Dahlström, professor of musicology
WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Akademiska Orkestern vid ÅA
THE JOY OF PLAYING
"The performed repertoire is extensive, from standard classic symphonies of Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, Brahms, Dvorak and Sibelius to homeland music written by the gifted conductors, currently Sauli Huhtala, but also his predecessors Gottfrid Gräsbeck and John Rosas. As a pianist it has been a true thrill to perform piano concertos by Beethoven, Palmgren, Rachmaninoff and Grieg" (Folke Gräsbeck, pianist, Mus.Dr.)
"Akademiska Orkestern has been essential part of my life and studies in Turku"
"In the Academic Orchestra we enjoy musical freedom with the most altruistic group of musicians lead by the most discreet and professional conductor - freedom to experience the pure music."
"Some things in life are made to last forever. That is what Akademiska Orkestern means to me."
"The universities in Turku have many international exchange students and some of them come to Finland with their instruments. Playing with them in our orchestra is so special experience: often we don´t have a common language but we can enjoy making music together because music is such a universal language!"
"It was absolutely great experience to perform music of Sibelius and Grieg in Vienna in fantastic concert which was sold out and I would love to perform this kind of concerts - once in a day - for the rest of my life"
"Every player of the Akademiska Orkestern and its directors: first Gottfrid Gräsbeck, then Sauli Huhtala, they all have inspirated me in the world of music."
"Being part of the Akademiska Orkestern has meant a great deal to me, both during my years in the university as well as afterwards. In fact, it has been so significant that it´s difficult to even find the words. However, in the following an attempt to name a few: great music, friends, teamwork, challenges, magical moments and experiences. It is
simply a wonderful community combining both musical and academic worlds. "
" Akademiska Orkestern has been invaluable in allowing me to experience great musical works from within, and to grow as a musician, together with many great friends!"
"For almost quarter of a century Akademiska Orkestern has been my musical family with whom ennobling and heart-warming experiences are guaranteed."
"My father, a music teacher, wanted me to become a professional violinist. But I was too lazy to practice enough, so I ended up as a student of Chemical Engineering in 1969. I was happy to find Akademiska Orkestern, where I now have played 50 years in the second violin. I guess I am still too young for viola. Making music with young people brings me great joy, and I practice now much more than ever. This is the only way for me to stay in this lovely orchestra."
"The team spirit in Akademiska Orkestern is fantastic and it strives everyone to do their best in every concert. It is an honor to be part of such a group."
"I started playing second violin in AO when I was 15. Playing classical compositions was completely different from the pop/jazz I was used to playing. I have continued playing in the orchestra throughout my studies, and now, almost 9 years, several symphonies, concertos, and pieces of cinematic and Christmas music later, I still love it when the pieces finally come together, usually leaving me humming the melodies long after the rehearsals."
"I think there is something unique about the atmosphere we have in Akademiska Orkestern - it's relaxed and ambitious at the same time."
June 2021: Collegium Musicum RWTH University Orchestra
Staging of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem” - Photo: Kelvin Hoffmann
The Collegium Musicum (CM), student orchestra at RWTH Aachen University,is honored to be featured as ENUO "Orchestra of the Month". In the following we want to present our history and recent developments as well as a few remarks on how we organise such a big ensemble.
If you want to get in touch, take a look at our website: www.cm.rwth-aachen.de
Since Professor Helmuth Schepp founded the orchestra with 30 members in the winter semester of 1952, the Collegium Musicum has had a varied and colorful history. What once was a small ensemble, has now grown to a full symphony orchestra as well as a large university choir. The first years of the ensemble were largely influenced by Rudolf Bremen, who led the musicians for many years and started the tradition of collaborating with other universities. Renowned conductor Fritz ter Wey (Founder of „Junger Chor Aachen“), expanded the orchestra to philharmonic size when he was handed the baton by his predecessor. During this time, an exchange with the university choir from Szeged in Hungary took place. Ter Wey’s successor in 1994 was the Dutch national Hubert Pittie, who started to reach out to Netherlands-based ensembles. His many years at Collegium Musicum included several performances of premieres as well as special collaborations with other Aachen ensembles. Also in his later years at CM, Pittie brought many demanding performances to audiences, such as the “Unfinished Second Symphony” or Karl Jenkins’ “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace”, which were performed on the special occasion of the ensemble’s 60th anniversary. In September 2015, Ernst von Marshall took over the position of music director. From summer semester 2017 to summer semester 2019, Raimund Laufen was the general music director of Collegium Musicum. In his time with the CM, he conducted, among others, “A German Requiem” by Johannes Brahms as well as a choral concert in the Coronation Hall at Aachen City Hall.
At the beginning of the 2018 summer semester, Laufen gave the stage to the 26-year-old conductor of the Japanese Philharmonic Düsseldorf, Julio G. Vico, while Maximilian Friedrich took over choir rehearsals. Laufen continued to support the musicians in his function as Collegium Musicum's music director. Together with soloists from the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln (Aachen branch), the orchestra and choir of the CM performed Giuseppe Verdi's "Messa da Requiem" together on stage. In the summer semester 2019 Raimund Laufen celebrated his farewell with the performance of Carl Orff's “Carmina Burana”. The concert at the Eurogress Aachen was attended by 1,400 listeners. He handed over the Collegium Musicum to Tobias Haussig, who took over the direction of the choir shortly before and now is Musical Director at RWTH Aachen University.
(Just) the orchestra performing its last concert in 2020 - Photo: Richard Chojetzki
Our host university
RWTH Aachen University is a place where the future of our industrialised world is thought out. The University is proving to be a hotspot with increasing international recognition where innovative answers to global challenges are developed meanwhile educating over 47,000 students enrolled in 150 courses. Within the variety of programs, students are enrolled at 9 different faculties, covering courses from technical to philosophical topics. The student body consists of more than 12,477 international students from over 138 nations.
The Collegium Musicum is the official university ensemble. Consisting of both an orchestra and a choir, it is made up not only by students, staff and teachers of the RWTH Aachen University but also includes music enthusiasts from the entire student community in Aachen. At the moment, the orchestra currently consists of 60 musicians.
Rehearsals usually take place once a week in one of RWTH Aachen University’s largest lecture halls. Towards the end of each lecture period, two concerts are held with every other semester containing a joint programme performed by choir and orchestra. In addition to the regular semester concerts, the Collegium Musicum orchestra also performs at other university or industry events as well as at cultural events in Germany and abroad. For a few years, RWTH Aachen University’s very own Carbon Quintet, consisting of orchestra members, performs as an impressive combination of science and music on numerous occasions with carbon fibre instruments.
More of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem” - Photo: Benedikt Dannbeck
Structure and Organisation
Although part of the university structure, the main organisation of the ensemble is done by its student members. Choir and Orchestra are each led by a committee of about a dozen students that share the recurring work amongst them. These range from almost weekly tasks like rehearsal planning to dedicated project leads that work on bigger concerts.
As knowledge retention is a big challenge for any student orchestra, great care is placed on standardized documentation of work, meetings and external communication. This is facilitated by documentation templates and “HowTo”-documents residing in a shared drive. Even with this structure, some questions remain and keeping in touch with former members often proves to be invaluable.
Project spotlight: Carmina Burana
One of the most challenging, but also rewarding experiences of the past years has been the staging of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” in 2019. Performing this masterpiece of contemporary orchestral music had been a dream in the book for a while. About a year ahead of the eventual performance, the CM orchestra and choir felt uniquely positioned to tackle this task. Contributing to this were a stable planning perspective with newly inducted student representatives, a large body of musicians and good relations to sponsors.
Initially starting rehearsals separately, over the course of the semester the choir and orchestra repeatedly met on rehearsal days and weekends. Between said meetings, the individual ensembles were able to incorporate impressions from the joint rehearsals and improve their musical execution in order to approach the opus as a whole up to the dress rehearsal the day before the concert.
Staging of “Carmina Burana” by Carl Orff 2019 - Photo: Andreas Schmitter
One of the last offline acts from last year: Recording a piece from Mendelssohn in the biggest room we could find: an ice skating rink
Of course, the musical experience and collaboration were strongly affected by the social interaction within the choir and orchestra as well as between the ensembles. Thankfully, the recreation team had arranged potluck lunches and various games to break up the draining rehearsal days and keep up the socializing going into the evening. This enabled us to bring the two ensembles closer together and maintain morale up to the big day.
On July 5th, excitement and anticipation rose as we arrived at the venue. The coordination of the various groups had been planned meticulously, but warm-up and tuning were still a bit nervous. The concert was sold out and at 7pm we were able to set in with the familiar tunes of “O Fortuna”.
With the ending chords retreating, so did tension in the performers. The applause was great and from an orchestra and choir perspective, the project was more than worth it. As we found, there was a considerable effort behind it and one rarely gets the opportunity to participate in a project of this magnitude. The cooperation between the orchestra and a large choir, as well as with soloists and, in this case, even with a children's choir, contributed to the unique experience. In hindsight, the project went better than expected, which can likely be attributed to the early planning by a joint project management team. Finally, the success of the eventful day of the concert has been celebrated appropriately among all participating musicians and organizing supporters.
(Pre 2020) Rehearsal retreat
CM during the Pandemic
Currently, the orchestra rehearses regularly despite the difficult time for cultural events. The rehearsal programme has been moved to online rehearsals and now features several small projects rather than a few large pieces in a semester. This semester, for example, the "Hallelujah" from the Messiah by G.F. Händel, "Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich" by F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, as well as the "Cantique de Jean Racine" by Gabriel Fauré are prepared one after the other. The declared goal of concluding the semester's work with a concert has meanwhile given way to the aspiration of producing high-quality recordings for a shared sound experience. The musicians of the orchestra continuously record their voices and instruments, the sound tracks are carefully mixed by conductor Tobias Haussig, and in the end everyone can listen to the jointly produced work almost as if they had recorded it together.
In addition to making music together, an important aspect of our orchestra and choir is social interaction, especially in this time of physical distance. During the semester, a weekly "get together" is held after almost every rehearsal. The evening can be spent over a beer or soda and occasionally there are joint cooking evenings or board game activities. Despite current covid measures, our team for social events always develops new ideas for us to spend a beautiful evening. After the current online rehearsals we meet on Zoom and play online board games, chat with each other or drink a virtual beer together. In regular, non-pandemic semesters, an important highlight is the party after the final concert. First we feast from a bring-your-own buffet and afterwards everyone is free to dance to music of different styles or to hang out and enjoy a few drinks.
May 2021: Universitätsorchester Dresden
The University Orchestra Dresden (Universitätsorchester Dresden) unites more than 100 members in its symphonic and chamber-philharmonic ensembles. The orchestra is primarily made up of students, employees and graduates of the TU Dresden, who find great pleasure and companionship through shared musical experiences in their free time. Rehearsals take place weekly, and at the end of the semester both ensembles present performances with a varied, wide-ranging repertoire at a widely recognized high level. Helmuth Reichel Silva, principal conductor and artistic director of the University Orchestra Dresden, has been with us since the summer semester of 2020.
Principal conductor and artistic director Helmuth Reichel Silva.
The University Orchestra Dresden during rehearsal.
The University Orchestra was founded in 1961 and has been affiliated with the TU Dresden since 1991 as a non-profit association. The TU Dresden supports the orchestra alongside the Studentenwerk, the Gesellschaft von Freunden und Förderern der TU Dresden e.V., the Landesverband Sächsischer Liebhabeorchester e.V. and the Kulturstiftung des Freistaats Sachsen. As the very resonance of the TU Dresden, the University Orchestra also accompanies academic milestones such as the ceremonial matriculation (Feierliche Immatrikulation).
The blend of change and continuity, of youthful ambition and the seasoned experience of the members of different generations keeps the orchestra alive over its already more than 50-year history. Music and orchestral life also emerge from the coexistence between student and professor, doctoral student and alumnus, and the new and old “Dresdeners” alike.
In 1997, a second ensemble was established—initially the TU Chamber Orchestra (TU-Kammerorchester)—whose membership grew steadily into a small symphonic ensemble and, ever since 2004, has consequently been called the TU Chamber Philharmonic (TU-Kammerphilharmonie).
The bass section during rehearsal.
The TU Chamber Philharmonic ensamble.
The Symphony Orchestra, with about 70 members and a large proportion of longstanding players, rehearses on Monday evenings throughout the year, with the exception of a summer break of about six weeks. The TU Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, with about 40 members and a larger share of alternating student players, rehearses exclusively during the semester on Tuesday evenings. One rehearsal weekend per semester in Dresden or the surrounding area serves to reinforce concert preparations. In addition to the parallel rehearsals of both ensembles, there are project-based initiatives for members of both ensembles.
Both orchestras can proudly reflect on a variety of interesting past projects. In addition to the semester concerts held in Dresden with an impressively rich repertoire, other projects have included choral symphonic concerts, e.g. with the University Choir Dresden, as well as unconventional projects such as the “Queen Classic Night” and participation in the Dresden Art Festival ORNÖ, or even the “Children’s University” of the TU Dresden. Exchange projects with partner orchestras and choirs have taken the Symphony Orchestra to Poland, Spain and Switzerland in recent years, and the TU Chamber Philharmonic to Norway, France and England.
The University Orchestra Dresden during rehearsals.
TU Chamber Philharmonic ensamble tour in Norway 2016.
During the last year of the SARS-Cov2 Pandemic, the orchestra has been able to keep close connections and maintain creative. Because in-person rehearsals and shared practice spaces have not been available over the last year, the orchestra has produced online performances through recordings from each individual member, compiled together. These include “Hungarian Dance No. 1” by Brahms, and the “Barber of Seville” by Rossini. We are currently celebrating our 60th anniversary as an orchestra and are planning a jubilee concert for July 18th in the historical “Kulturpalast” of Dresden, which will include works by Bartók, Schumann, and Stravinsky.
December 2020: Universitätsorchester Konstanz
The Universitätsorchester Konstanz was founded in 1973, starting out as a small string ensemble. From the very beginning it was designed as an amateur orchestra, giving hobby musicians the opportunity to carry out their passion for orchestral music. Apart from members of the university, the orchestra was and is still open to everyone.
After mostly limiting the repertoire to baroque and early classical compositions for the first couple of years, British conductor Howard Griffith took over the musical direction in 1984 and expanded the orchestra to its fully fledged symphonic instrumentation it has since. Five years later, Griffith was replaced by Peter Bauer who still conducts the orchestra to this day. Besides directing the Universitätsorchester, he also conducts the university’s choir and he was officially appointed as musical director of the university in 1995.
General rehearsal for Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in the university’s Audimax lecture hall in 2018.
Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the wonderful young cellist Sinéad O’Halloran in 2019.
During the lecture periods, we usually rehearse once a week in order to prepare for one or two concerts per semester. In addition to the weekly rehearsals we have two intense rehearsal weekends per semester and occasional section rehearsals lead professional musicians from the Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie Konstanz. In the winter term, the concert is normally comprised of orchestral pieces following the classical sequence of an overture piece, followed by a solo concerto for which we invite professional soloists and a symphony or a comparable large piece.
Our repertoire covers classical and romantic as well as contemporary orchestral music and is enriched by large choral works, for which we collaborate with the university’s choir each summer term. Over the last years, several international academic choirs have joined us for these large projects, like the DNIPRO choir of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and the Chœur de l’École normale supérieure de Lyon for Orff’s Carmina Burana in 2016 or the Coro dell’Universià degli Studi di Perugia for Verdi’s Requiem in 2019.
Absolutely massive performance of Verdi’s Requiem together with the Universitätschor Konstanz and the Coro dell’Università degli Studi di Perugia in the St. Stephan’s church in Konstanz (June 2019).
Summer serenade “Matinée Française” with Bizet’s Carmen Suites and other chamber music pieces, played in the university’s foyer in 2017.
In some years, the summer term schedule leaves room for a second serenade-like soirée or matinée concert where we get the opportunity to play chamber music and smaller orchestral pieces. Every few years on a non-regular basis, we furthermore undertake concert tours in Germany as well as all over Europe. Previous destinations include Freiburg (DE), Grenoble, Lyon (FR), Bologna, Venice, Cremona (IT), Innsbruck (AT), Warsaw (PL) and Kyiv (UKR).
Before the start of our rehearsals each winter term, we get the possibility to have an influence on the upcoming program. For this, all members of the orchestra are invited to meet with our conductor Peter Bauer in order to propose pieces that should be played. Considering these suggestions, he then prepares three to four different programs which are up for election among the orchestra members.
We are a very well-connected and friendly community in our orchestra from where many good friendships have already been established. Apart from seeing each other immediately before and after the rehearsal, we have the tradition to go to our favourite pub to have a couple of drinks or a late dinner after every rehearsal. In recent years, it has become somewhat of a tradition that we also meet more or less regularly for voluntary and self-organised “just-for-fun-rehearsals” during the lecture-free periods. With this, we want to provide a platform for anyone who wants to play a long-practiced solo piece in an orchestral setting and without the pressure of an upcoming concert. Furthermore, we play various smaller orchestral pieces including film music medleys arranged by members of the orchestra. In addition, several chamber music groups have found themselves and meet on a regular basis.
In order to join our orchestra, you can apply for an audition at the beginning of every semester where you present one piece of your own choice that showcases your skills. Together with our conductor, the respective section leaders then decide on which of the applicants are going to join the orchestra.
Dress rehearsal for our first “concert” during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in July 2020 where we played open air while keeping the social distance. The program included amongst others Alfvén’s Midsommarvakta and Marquez’ Danzón No. 2.
Necessity is the mother of invention: since booking a room at the university was out of question due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, we overcame this constraint by rehearsing open-air!
This year (2020) we were lucky to have our first concert of the year to be scheduled for February, so we avoided cancellation or postponing due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Nonetheless, this year’s summer term was anything but normal. During the lockdown period, we passed several months without knowing how and when we would be able to continue our rehearsal work. Thanks to the immense dedication of our conductor Peter Bauer, we got the opportunity to resume rehearsals in an external hall in the city and prepare for a small summer program by June. In order to comply with the social distancing requirements, we had separate rehearsals for the wind and string sections and only assembled the entire orchestra for the general rehearsal one day before the concert. The concert was scheduled for the beginning of July and was performed open-air in the university’s courtyard in front of a greatly reduced audience. The pandemic did not stop us from meeting for our holiday rehearsals however. Since booking a room at the university was out of question, we just met in one of our bassoonists’ garden, to the great joy of the neighbours and the passers-by.
Until now, we are still not allowed to use our familiar rooms at the university, but we hope to be able to continue the rehearsals by the start of the new winter term, albeit separated by sections. Nevertheless, we are very grateful to be able to pursue our hobby and carry on making music, especially in these challenging times!
Hopefully, you got an insight about us and how it is to play in our orchestra after reading this. Make sure to also check out our Website and Facebook page to learn more!
June 2020: Orchestra dell’Almo Collegio Borromeo - Pavia
Almo Collegio Borromeo, founded in 1561 by Saint Carlo Borromeo, is the oldest university College in Italy for merit students. Every year it hosts deserving students of the University of Pavia who pass an entrance test, even if without economic means. Here students supplement their university education. They study, eat, sleep and spend their free time together also doing sports, singing in the choir or playing in the Orchestra, growing together as a community, based on interdisciplinarity and internationalization.
Almo Collegio Borromeo provides to the students courses, seminars and workshops, foreign languages concerts, conferences, talks from important people of the academic and transversal skills sectors.
Almo Collegio Borromeo - view from the sky
Almo Collegio Borromeo - facade
Besides academic activities, the College organizes concerts with international acclaimed artists and young talents, musical lectures and courses with important personalities, in an interdisciplinary viewpoint. The importance of music and music education since XVI century is one of the leading activities at Almo Collegio Borromeo, with the Choir and the Orchestra of students and professional mentors from important Orchestras (like Teatro alla Scala) and Choirs (Ars Cantica Choir).
The current Rector is Alberto Lolli, one of the leading personality of culture and education in Italy, member of the scientific committee of the Master in Cooperation and Development of the University of Pavia and member of Senato Accademico member of IUSS.
Denis Zanchetta is the principal conductor of the Orchestra dell'Almo Collegio Borromeo: he is a conductor of great international experience, especially devoted to student Orchestras. He was first clarinet piccolo at Teatro alla Scala for 40 years.
The Orchestra performing in Sala degli Affreschi
The orchestra in action under the leadership of conductor Denis Zanchetta
Alessandro Marangoni is the artistic director: he studied Philosophy as merit scholar at Borromeo and he is one of the leading Italian piano performers (more than 20 CDs recorded and concerts in Europe, Americas, China and Australia).
The repertoire of the Orchestra starts from Bach and Mozart’s family to the contemporary music, including annual first performances of new compositions committed by Collegio.
Beside the Orchestral activity, with rehearsals, workshops and masterclasses, the college organizes a chamber music course, once a week, lead by Denis Zanchetta, to give Orchestra members the opportunity to play together also in chamber groups and to learn new and uncommon repertoire.
Orchestra of Charles University in Prague
April 2020: Orchestra of Charles University in Prague
Our Orchestra was founded in 2001 by our Chief Conductor, Haig Utidjian, at the invitation of the Rector of Charles University, whom a number of students had approached, asking for the establishment of an orchestra and chorus under the official auspices of the University. Prior to the Velvet Revolution of 1989 the University had a number of such ensembles, but as they had been under the umbrella of the then Communist students’ union, they were abolished in the aftermath of the Revolution; as they say, the baby had been thrown away with the bathwater. Yet there is no doubt that the Czechs are a highly musical nation, with a very fine musical tradition, and so clearly the premier University of the Czech Republic could not long remain without an orchestra of its own.
The Orchestra started from very humble beginnings, and the first few rehearsals were attended by a handful of violinists, flautists and one clarinet – making it quite a challenge to find suitable repertoire. The University being highly decentralised, it was surprisingly difficult to ensure that everyone who might be interested knew about us (and even today, we are surprised to find how many students are unaware of our existence, despite all our publicity effort!). But we grew in strength from year to year, and started being invited to play in various places on various occasions, in Prague as well as further afield. We have had the opportunity of making music in some extremely beautiful buildings in the Czech Republic, and further afield. We found ourselves increasingly also performing abroad, playing (for example) in beautiful cities such as Paris, Pizza, Cologne and Vienna. We collaborate with a number of groups, including our very own University Chorus, and increasingly we have enjoyed opportunities of sharing concerts with friendly visiting ensembles from other European countries. Particularly memorable were concerts we shared with the Exeter Chamber Orchestra from the UK, the Cologne University Collegium Musicum, the Vilnius University Chorus, the Strasbourg University Orchestra and the Copenhagen University Orchestra. We find this to be a good way of inspiring each other, learning more about other nations as well as beautiful music we would not have otherwise encountered, as well as forming lifelong friendships.
We are extremely grateful to the University, by whom we are regularly invited to perform on official occasions, and to the Hlávka Foundation, who have done much to foster our development over the years, not least by regularly inviting us to perform on 17 November every year (when the Czech Republic marks the Velvet Revolution, as well as the execution of anti-Nazi student demonstrators during World War II). We have also collaborated with the National Museum of the Czech Republic, performing at the beautiful Pantheon of the Museum in televised concerts on three occasions, and more recently performing at the Czech Museum of Music (one of our favourite venues) to celebrate 100 years since Czechoslovak women gained the right to vote. On this occasion – on 14 May 2019 – we performed works by five women composers, including the magnificent “Canticle of the Sun” by the American composer Amy Beach (which had not hitherto been played in the Czech Republic), and the world première of the lovely piece for strings by Susan Martin “Calming of the Sea”, which, since then, we have performed several more times.
VIDEO 1 Rehearsing Amy Beach’s “Canticle of the Sun” a few minutes before giving the Czech première of the piece at the Czech Museum of Music, on 14 May, 2019
Performing at the Aula of the Karolinum, 19 December, 2018
Charles University Orchestra and Chorus at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum
Our Orchestra caters for a reasonably wide range of abilities, although a high proportion of our players will have already gained considerable orchestral experience before joining us. Most study a variety of subjects, including Medicine, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and various Humanities and Arts disciplines including but not confined to Music. We do not hold formal auditions for strings; rather, we invite them to play for us for a trial period, at the end of which desk partners and section principals have a say, advising the conductor. In most cases membership of the Orchestra is readily confirmed, provided that players display a good record of attendance at weekly rehearsals and weekend workshops/retreats (where a high proportion of our rehearsing is done). For wind players, we do hold auditions from time to time, depending on need. We have enjoyed a very fine flute section for a number of years now, but it is sometimes less easy to find suitable oboes and bassoons. From time to time we have to have recourse to external players to fill the odd gap in the Orchestra – such as the tuba, extra horns or percussion, or a harpist. Players are encouraged to go on performing with us after graduation, and we have a substantial proportion of recent graduates who have chosen to remain in the Orchestra, having completed their studies. We also have a policy of performing concerti with soloists drawn from the ranks of the Orchestra.
A typical semester will entail two weekend workshops as well as weekly evening rehearsals, and we tend to have several big concerts per semester – with a string of Christmas concerts in December, some of which are held in freezing churches (in places like Karlštejn Castle) where it has not been unknown for a bottle of “slivovice” – plum brandy – to be circulated amongst members and then mysteriously disappear! Each semester also features at least one concert where we are joined by our Chorus and professional soloists (many of whom are active on the opera stage, and have worked with our Chief Conductor, who himself conducted in various theatres in the past) for a major choral/orchestral masterpiece. Works for which we have been joined by our Chorus include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Brahms’ German Requiem, many works by Dvořák (including the Stabat Matter, Te Deum, Mass in D, St. Ludmila, Hymn to the Heirs of White Mountain, and the unduly neglected Slavnostní zpěv), Fibich’s Jarní Romance, the Rossini Stabat Mater, the Bach Magnificat, the Alan Hovhaness Magnificat (of which we gave the Czech première, in St. Vitus’ Cathedral in 2015), the Fauré Requiem, Amy Beach’s Canticle of the Sun, Nielsen’s Hymnus Amoris (both Czech premières), Smetana’s Česká píseň, and much else besides. Our orchestral repertoire includes symphonies, symphonic poems and incidental music by composers such as Beethoven, Smetana, Dvořák, Suk, Sibelius, Nielsen, Hovhaness and many others. We have also been honoured to give world premières of works by living composers such as Milan Iglo (his Piano Concerto), Stanislav Poslušný (“The Little Prince”) and Susan Martin (“Calming of the Sea”).
Though we are not in a position to hire concert venues ourselves, we have been very fortunate to have been invited to perform in all the finest venues in Prague. In addition to the Karolinum at the heart of the University, we have performed at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum, Smetana Hall, the Czech Museum of Music, the Pantheon of the National Museum, Vladislav Hall of Prague Castle, and the Church of the Holy Saviour (where the Prague Academical Parish is based, and where we have been giving annual charity concerts for many years).
VIDEO 2 Christmas Mass at the Church of the Holy Saviour, 16 December, 2019, with soloists Petra Vondrová and Michal Foršt – pizzicato in the cold!
VIDEO 3 The conclusion of the Ryba Bohemian Christmas Mass at the Church of the Holy Saviour, 16 December, 2019
Our most recent charity Christmas Concert at the Church of the Holy Saviour, 16 December, 2019
Performing Komitas’ Liturgy for Strings at the Vienna Mekhitarist Church of St. Mary the Protector, 4 May, 2019
Our plans for this semester included an all-Beethoven programme this month at the Aula of the Karolinum – Coriolan Overture, Romance in F (with one of our orchestral violinists as the soloist) and the Mass in C (with our Chorus and a fine team of soloists) – followed by a Nordic programme in May – Nielsen’s Helios Overture and Søvnen (a truly magnificent piece for Chorus and Orchestra, never performed in the Czech Republic before), and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 3. Unfortunately, the distancing measures necessitated by the virus pandemic mean that our rehearsals were interrupted, and our concerts postponed. But we hope to keep going in other ways, remaining in touch with each other and with our conductors via skype and other electronic means, practising our parts and continuing to make music, so that we are well prepared to perform those pieces and others as soon as we are allowed to do so. We also hope to organise live lectures and other informal sessions devoted to those pieces in the coming weeks, and hope that we shall be able to keep motivating ourselves and maintain our high spirits, as well as cheering up those in our physical – and virtual – vicinity.
Our most recent concert for the Hlávka Foundation was at the Bethlehem Chapel in the centre of the Old Town. Our programme included a celebratory piece by for Chorus and Orchestra by Dvořák (Slavnostní zpěv), a more lugubrious piece for strings composed in the aftermath of the bombing of Coventry by the composer Vilém Tauský (a pupil of Janáček, Suk and Talich), who taught our conductor Haig Utidjian, and much else besides.
VIDEO 4 Performing Vilém Tauský’s Coventry – a meditation for strings – on 17 November, 2019
Please feel free to visit our Web pages – on Sboraorchestruk.cz – and our YouTube channel – Chorus and Orchestra of Charles University in Prague – for further photos and recordings!
For our final video clip, performed by the Charles University Chorus and Orchestra, we were joined by the baritone Jakub Hrubý and the organist Martin Maxmilian Kaiser on 17 November, 2018. We have chosen the last few minutes of the magnificent but little known piece by Martinů, Czech Rhapsody – Mahlerian in style and in scope, though also very Czech in flavour. It ends with the words – which seem to have acquired particular poignancy as many of our fellow human beings are now ill and are fighting for their lives – addressed to the Czech Patron Saint, St. Wenceslas (“Svatý Václav” in Czech): “St. Wenceslas, do not let us perish!”
We are grateful to Mr Tomas Bazika of the Prague Music Connection for his kindness in sharing his photographs and video clips from our performances over the last year and a half. We are also grateful to our first violinists, Vojtěch Salajka of the Charles University Orchestra for the panoramic photograph of the Charles University Chorus and Orchestra above, and Vladimír Faltus for the sound recording of our concert at the Czech Museum of Music of 4 April, 2016.
We hope that during those days of uncertainty and frustration, music – performed by ourselves and by others, with conviction, commitment and passion – may prove to be a source of strength and comfort, and we send our orchestral colleagues all over Europe our very best wishes from Prague.
Members of the Charles University Orchestra and conductors Kateřina Maňásová and Haig Utidjian, 1 April, 2020
An excellent atmosphere prevails as we wait to begin to play at the Aula of the Karolinum, 24 April, 2019
In this photo (17 November, 2019) we were playing Smetana as if our lives depended on it!
March 2020: Orquesta de la Universidad de Oviedo
The University Oviedo Orchestra was founded in February 1979 by Alfonso Ordieres, from then onwards considered being the oldest university orchestra in Spain. Originally it was a string-based orchestra that focused on baroque repertoire. In its first chapter, the orchestra gained a good reputation and took part in several festivals and courses such as Cambrils, Granada, Madrid, etc. In addition, the orchestra got invited to perform for Spanish Kings at the foundational act of Fundación Princesa de Asturias in 1980. Also, some concerts have been broadcasted on the National Spanish Television (TVE).
After several years of non-activity, Pedro Ordieres started as conductor. So since, October 2017, Orquesta de la Universidad de Oviedo is considered to be a full-size symphonic orchestra with more than 70 enrolled students. Today, each term is musically colored with ten concerts. With it is main purpose to promote classical music also comes premiers by composers such as Gabriel Ordás, Pablo Moras, Guillermo Gonzalez, Fernandez Languasco o Ruben Díez. Also, it has recorded the original soundtrack to a documentary produced by TPA “Desde la otra orilla”.
The University of Oviedo Orchestra is part of the “University Extension and International Promoting service”. The activities are organized according to the needs of the University’s community, but also contributes to the irrevocable and tangible commitment it has with the whole Asturian society, encompassing all kinds of cultural and formative activities. This Orchestra tries to bring culture to Asturias society as well as give the chance to the students to develop its artistic ideas. The Extension University department has made a big effort to support the orchestra for the past years.
The Orchestra rehearses on Mondays and is open to any student, professor or worker associated to the University of Oviedo. Also, some students from regional Conservatoire are invited to take part and extend their musical experience. The orchestra sometimes collaborates with guest professionals from Asturias Symphony Orchestra and other institutions, they sometimes perform as soloist or share their professional knowledge by giving advice to the students.
Upcoming projects include three concerts: one for Asturias Television at the historical cellar from “El Gaitero”, and one big Concert at the Oviedo´s cathedral, including Beethoven´s fifth symphony (celebrating Beethoven´s anniversary) and the world premiere of “El Aura” by Gabriel Ordas together with University of Oviedo Chorus and Asturias Conservatory Chorus. Later this year the Orchestra will perform at Alcalá de Henares University (Madrid) as part of an exchange program between both University Orchestras. Only exciting things ahead!
December 2019: Ghent University Symphony Orchestra
GUSO, or the 'Ghent University Symphony Orchestra', is an orchestra for and by students! It explicitly presents itself as an open and social orchestra, a group of close friends with the ambition to realise qualitative and musically ambitious projects, creating the opportunity for students in Ghent to further explore their musical interests. In line with the Ghent University slogan “Dare to think”, GUSO “Dares to play”, with a lot of musical enthusiasm and the guidance of their passionate conductor Steven Decraene. Take a look at www.guso.be or visit our facebook page and follow us on Instagram for more information!
November 2019: The UCD University Orchestra
The UCD Symphony Orchestra was founded in 2002. It has developed into the flagship instrumental ensemble of Ireland's largest university, University College Dublin, with a membership of around 90 players. It offers student scholarships and can be taken for academic credit irrespective of degree programme - traditionally there has been a large cohort of medical and engineering students in the orchestra. Sectional tuition is provided by principals from Dublin's two full-time professional orchestras, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. The orchestra has engaged in numerous joint projects with university orchestras outside Dublin, the first European destination being Mannheim, Germany in 2013. Connections made via our friends in the ENUO have led to further collaborations with orchestras from Uppsala in Sweden, Leuven in Belgium, and Strasbourg in France, as well as participation in the 2017 edition of ESOF.
The UCDSO’s repertoire centres on mainstream concert works from the 19th and 20th centuries – major symphonic symphonic repertoire performed has included symphonies by Beethoven (5, 7, 9), Shostakovich (5, 10) and Tchaikovsky (4, 5, 6). Since 2005, the orchestra has appeared annually at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, Ireland’s premier classical music venue. These concerts often involve the UCD Philharmonic Choir, most recently in performances of Brahms’s Deutsches Requiem and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances. A wider audience has been cultivated by a number of themed concert series, such as family concerts, a "Night at the Movies" series, and concert performances with live bands, including the world-renowned tribute act the Bootleg Beatles.
The orchestra shall enjoy a very busy season in 2019–20 with five major events planned, the first of which occured on October 20th, joining forces for a second time with the Bootleg Beatles for an acclaimed performance to commemorate the release of the iconic Abbey Road album – a review in the national music journal Hot Press can be read here: http://tiny.cc/ucdbeatles. Next up is the second in the series entitled "Closer Reading" in which a major symphonic work is performed following a 30-minute critical introduction by our conductor, Dr Ciarán Crilly, who is also Head of the UCD School of Music. Into 2020, there are two performances planned at the National Concert Hall, including the fourth "Night at the Movies" programme, before we welcome the Strasbourg University Orchestra for a joint concert in the Spring. A new endeavour this year is the introduction of an apprenticeship for young conductors: the 2019-20 Conducting Apprentice is Ben Jacob from Waterford in the South East of Ireland.
As the orchestra approaches its 20th anniversary in the 2022-23 season, it looks for fresh challenges, and is always open to exchange partnerships with other ENUO members. We celebrate the fact that we have grown from just 19 members in our first concert to 90 in our last, and that this growth has been accompanied by an ever-increasing contribution to the cultural life of UCD’s staff and student population.
Definitely keep an eye on what we are up to via our main channels: www.ucd.ie/orchestra and www.facebook.com/ucdsymphonyorchestra