An important and busy year lies ahead for West Sussex Music service as they prepare to up their game.
The county ensembles bring together the best and brightest music students from across the county to rehearse and perform in the music service’s flagship groupings: West Sussex Youth Orchestra, West Sussex Youth Wind Orchestra and West Sussex Youth Choir.
Key changes are afoot to take it all to the next level, as arts coordinator Amy Duxbury explains: “After a very successful 2015-2016 season, we are now moving from fortnightly to weekly rehearsals at our new rehearsal venue, Rydon Community College (Storrington): “We were at Billingshurst primary before, but the biggest change is that we used to stagger rehearsals. We now have all 140 rehearsing at the same time.
“We did so well last year. For the last two years, two of our ensembles have been in the Music for Youth finals. We are increasing numbers, and everything is just going from strength to strength. And now we just want to take things to the next level. We are getting to finals, but we are realising that if we want to get to the same level as the other music hubs and big county orchestras, we are going to have to move to weekly rehearsals. We need to bring our standards up to the highest they can be. We are very keen to open up to new members. We are always looking for new people for brass and strings and singers, and we are also looking to spread awareness of what we are doing. We generally do two concerts a year.”
There will be a Christmas concert in December at a venue to be confirmed, and they will be in action at Worthing Assembly Hall next July: “We have to get the pieces ready by the end of term to make sure we give the best performances, but moving to weekly rehearsals we might perhaps start looking at doing more concerts in the future. But really for the moment, we are wanting to keep it to the same basic format, just increase the intensity. Some of our achievements last year included a packed performance at The Worthing Assembly Hall, the West Sussex Youth Wind Orchestra performing in the Music for Youth National Finals at The Symphony Hall, Birmingham and all three ensembles (142 students) went on a week-long tour to Germany, where we performed in a variety of venues. We had four or five performances in Germany and it was such a fantastic opportunity. That was partly due to the success we have had, and it was the first time that the choir had come on tour with us. It was great.”
Performers need to be grade six-plus in terms of ability range, but they also need the right levels of commitment. Amy stresses she is not necessarily looking to create the biggest ensembles: she wants the best: “It is not so much the numbers of students we are looking for, as the type of students we want. We are looking for the right combination of ability level and personality. We want students that are really committed and really want to take on a challenge.”
Prospective members should get in touch www.westsussexmusic.co.uk.
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