2016 has been a formative and successful year for the Sydney University Wind Orchestra, finding the balance between SUWO’s functions as a music ensemble, social society and now a course offered by the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
In the society’s second year of rehearsing and performing at Verbrugghen Hall, this year saw the formal introduction of ENSE1017 and ENSE1021, providing the wonderful opportunity for students studying at the Conservatorium as well as those studying at main campus to take SUWO as a unit of study. Any complications resulting from this new group of student members to the society were thankfully minimised due to the hard work and foresight of previous executives and the amendments to SUWO’s constitution at the 2015 AGM.
The year started off with a once again highly successful O-week, where we had a total of 139 members sign up. As anticipated by the increased interest in SUWO as a unit of study, the first rehearsal of semester 1 was full of energy and saw one of our largest ever attendances at a rehearsal with exactly 100 people on the stage in Verbrugghen Hall. This high attendance continued throughout the semester with 87 players at our end of semester concert Symphonies of Gaia.
Symphonies of Gaia was a major achievement this year as SUWO had the honour of having the concert included as an official event of the Vivid Sydney festival. The concert embodied how much SUWO has grown, drawing in the largest audience ever attending a SUWO concert and was the highest grossing concert of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s Greenway Series. Preparation is well underway for SUWO’s upcoming concert Winter Dreams on 22nd October with the executive starting promotion of the performance.
SUWO continued to host social events for its members this year, aiming to provide the social experience that has always been core to the society. These events included an Amazing Race held in the semester 1 mid-semester break as well as an after party following the first concert. In addition, in semester 2 we had the return of weekly dinners after rehearsals which were found to be a fantastic way for SUWO to reconnect with the social atmosphere that was championed in previous years. There are still some social events coming up before the end of the year including a Games Night in the semester 2 mid-semester break, which all members are encouraged to attend.
Also, SUWO held its annual camp as its major social event of the year. The camp was held at Blue Gum Lodge and was a successful event for the society with highlights including a team bonding activity night as well as a particularly detailed rehearsal on the final day. An insightful discussion occurred at the camp feedback session including a decision to trial camp at an earlier time in future years to improve social engagement and enable more focused and detailed rehearsals as players would be more familiar with their parts.
Moreover, this year SUWO has continued to support Splash, the percussion subgroup of the society. In semester 1 Splash performed at O week and at two concerts with the Sydney Chamber Choir. In semester 2 they held a successful major concert The So Called Laws of Nature and began weekly rehearsals at Old Darlington School. Look out for further performances by Splash in the coming months.
On an administrative level, this year the executive has developed new systems to more effectively run SUWO. Prior to each semester rehearsal copies of all parts were printed at the Conservatorium. In semester 1 we trialled a new system of printing practice copies for each individual of the ensemble, which was found to have logistical issues including the uncertainty of the numbers of parts required. In semester 2 we found that electronically distributing individual parts to section leaders was a more efficient method of providing practice copies to members.
Furthermore, this year SUWO focused on improving communication between its members and the executive through section leaders. In semester 2, section leaders were given the responsibility of taking attendance on a shared Google document which was found to be an effective system. It is recommended that future executives continue to develop the role of section leaders in the ensemble as another channel of communication in the society as well as a leadership opportunity. Also, SUWO again created a weekly percussion pack up and supper roster which helpfully guided members about the responsibilities of each section week to week. Weekly announcements were posted to the SUWO Facebook group as well as included in the weekly email and verbally announced at the start of supper each rehearsal. These methods provided greater awareness about the activities of the society and enhanced communication with SUWO’s members.
Additionally, the executive continued to have fortnightly meetings which successfully maintained continuous communication throughout the year. I would highly recommend this is continued by the incoming executive.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has supported SUWO and has contributed to the success of the society. Many thanks to Dr Steven Capaldo, the rest of the staff of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the University of Sydney Union Clubs and Societies program for their continued support of SUWO. Thank you to all the members of SUWO for their commitment to the orchestra this year. Also I would like to extend a massive thank you to all the members of the executive members for their hard work and dedication to SUWO. I am incredibly proud to have worked alongside all of you and I hope you all enjoyed being part of the executive this year.