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March 2021 Newsletter

It is now some 2 months since our last Newsletter and we hope that, during the challenges presented through the latest lock-down, all our members have kept well and progressed their studies as best they can. Rehearsals for our members have of course continued to be online and we have appreciated the commitment of so many of our members who have attended the rehearsals on Zoom on a regular basis for a further term. With numbers averaging-between 90 and 100 combined for the 3 sections on a Saturday morning, we feel confident that once we can return to rehearsing full time at Cordwalles, we will quickly pick up where we left off back in March 2020.

There is, however some positive news about the potential for some face-to-face rehearsals on a modest scale in the second half of the summer term and details are outlined below.

Summer Term 2021

By the time you read this Newsletter you will have received the email from Sarah Lee, Head of Service at Surrey Arts, regarding the planning for a potential return of ensembles to face-to-face rehearsals at some time next term. Of course, as everyone is aware, there are many factors linked to the current pandemic that can make any sort of planning in this regard somewhat speculative, although we believe we can have some optimism for the performing arts if we continue to see the improvements regarding the rate of spread of the virus during the coming months.

Our own planning for next term was agreed in principal at a meeting we had with Surrey Arts and Cordwalles School last week. As stated by Sarah Lee in her email, this will mean that we will continue with Zoom rehearsals for the first half of next term and then for the second half each section will have the opportunity for some face-to-face rehearsal time at Cordwalles.

Due to the continuing safeguarding issues that effect the playing of musical instruments, particularly woodwind or brass, we must plan to have rehearsals that limit the number attending to 15 for a 45 minute session and must maintain a clear 2 metre space around each player. The only possible location at Cordwalles that can accommodate this spacing requirement is the main hall, although the percussionists will be able to practice separately in the Studio block with their percussion tutor. More detailed plans will be provided towards the latter part of the first half of next term rehearsals but we are currently looking at bringing each section in for rehearsals on 2 separate Saturdays in the second half of the term. This would work out well, as there are 6 rehearsal dates available for that period. The Saturdays that each section is not in at Cordwalles for their rehearsal, they will continue with the Zoom rehearsal format. We will divide each section into 'teams' of a maximum of 15 players, with a balance of instruments and specially selected music to work well for the smaller groups. The departure of one 'team' and arrival of another will be spaced 30 minutes apart to avoid excess of numbers on the school premises at any one time and to give time for a clean and airing of the rehearsal area prior to each new arrival. Timings for each rehearsal will likely be 9.00am to 9.45am, 10.15am to 11.00am and 11.30am to 12.15pm and, besides the Orchestra members, the only other persons that will be in the school whilst our members are present will be their section Musical Director and a tutor.

We are sure that some parents and Orchestra members may continue to have reservations about resuming face-to-face rehearsals, although it is our hope that the plans we have put in place will provide some reassurance regarding our continuing focus on the safety and well-being of our Orchestra members in our decision making.

We will keep you informed as we get closer to the dates for returning and each member will be given clear instructions and timings for their attendance.

Rehearsal dates for the first half of summer term:

24 April - zoom

1 May - zoom

8 May - zoom

15 May - zoom

22 May - zoom

Provisional rehearsal dates for the second half of summer term (times to be confirmed):

12 June - Seniors - Cordwalles, Juniors and Intermediates - zoom.

19 June - Intermediates - Cordwalles, Juniors and Seniors - zoom.

26 June - Juniors - Cordwalles - Intermediates and Seniors - zoom.

3 July - Seniors - Cordwalles - Juniors and Intermediates - zoom.

10 July - Intermediates - Cordwalles - Juniors and Seniors - zoom.

17 July - Juniors - Cordwalles - Intermediates and Seniors – zoom

Brian Hopper


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