Following the announcement from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport regarding changes to performance guidance and indoor performances we wanted to let you know what this means for those who participate in University Music and society activity.
1. Guidance now allows non-professionals to rehearse and perform together - but - and this is the big challenge - this has to follow the current rules about meeting people from outside your own household. So we are part of the way there but there is still a lot of work to do with DCMS for them to grasp that this basically means that not much has therefore changed in real terms... unless you very luckily live with your string quartet or can form a chamber group with people all from one other household.
2. Restrictions for singers, brass and wind players. These people no longer need to work within enhanced social distancing measures of 3m, and can follow the general guidance on social distancing. This allows us to proceed with the risk assessments that we have been working on to run chamber groups and some other socially distanced activities in the autumn (subject to point 1 above being resolved re household bubbles).
3. Venue capacities form a large part of the decision making and this is very much shaping what we hope to run in the coming academic year. We have been working on risk assessments that cover every single room in the Bramall and Frankland - with approved capacities shown on each door. When you return to campus you will see that every door has a sign confirming how many people can be in the space.
The University's priority is to ensure that teaching takes place and courses run - for us that means prioritising ensembles that impact on those studying Music where rehearsals or performances form part of the teaching schedule and assessments. We have then considered University Music's role in the life of the University, and its impact on wellbeing. We will always work within government guidance and are working with many other institutions to share best knowledge and ideas. As part of the Association of British Orchestras we meet with colleagues regularly, and review the impact of policies, whilst also lobbying for appropriate change.
September onwards: We want to reach out to as many people as possible and ask that you sign up for University Music activity and updates via our new online 'University Music virtual sign up form' - this will be shared via mailing lists and on social media. You will be asked to confirm your instrument or voice type /grade (or equivalent standard)/ and tick from a list of our usual ensembles to be added to ensemble specific mailing lists. From those ensemble lists we will share opportunities, virtual projects and updates - inviting you to take part in both practical and social activities. Sign up will remain open, but you are encouraged to sign up during Welcome Week and Week one to avoid missing any Autumn projects.
It is not going to be possible to run every ensemble in person, social distancing and pressure on venues simply won't allow us to do that this year - but we are working with society ensemble managers to develop ideas for those who won't be able to rehearse in person.
However, we will focus on your musical development and have significantly increased our budget for supporting chamber music and small jazz bands, we will also be able to run some smaller ensembles such as Samba, Jazz Orchestra, New Music Ensemble and a small Sinfonietta at varying points in the academic year. We are also planning to run choirs that support degree activity and that should benefit many of those who ordinarily take place in our choirs.
Auditions: We ordinarily run auditions for ensembles in week 1 of the new academic year. This year we will simply contact you via email to sign up for an audition based on your response in the University Music virtual sign up form. Auditions will take place late October/early November - relieving pressure at the start of the year, in preparation for the formation of Jazz Orchestra, Symphonic Brass, Sinfonietta, NME and some of our choirs - all of which we hope to be able to start rehearsing from January onwards.
The essential thing for you to do if you want to keep up to date about opportunities is to complete the sign up form when it goes live. We also ask that you provide your own music stand for personal practice and any ensemble activity.
If you have any questions then please can you email the University Music teams central email address: email@example.com
Many thanks and apologies for such a huge post! Jo Sweet Head of University Music and Concerts