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Playing in HCO

Our orchestra's membership is drawn locally, primarily from Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire; we have a mix of accomplished amateur players, professional instrumental teachers, and some freelance musicians.

Each concert is preceded by a series of between four to six rehearsals, for the most part in Christchurch in Hitchin, on Friday evenings between 7.30pm and 10pm at more or less fortnightly intervals (Our favoured 'local', The Half Moon pub rounds off many rehearsals and concerts for those who can stay). This pattern of commitment has proved popular whilst also affording players more time to assimilate the music alongside busy work schedules and home lives.

We ask members to commit to attending as many rehearsals as possible and to putting in the time and effort to practise individual parts. Members are also responsible for actively promoting the concerts and selling tickets to their friends, families and colleagues so that our concerts are well attended and subscription rates can stay low (currently just £25 per concert cycle).

We perform three concerts a year, often at St Mary's Church or the Town Hall in Hitchin, but other local venues are also being considered for future events. The repertoire is as extensive as it is varied and our concert programming gives us the opportunity to explore some rarely heard repertoire alongside the acclaimed favorites of the string orchestra genre.

We re-seat the orchestra for each concert from the pool of available players. Section principals are fairly constant, but in general HCO does not have full-time first and second violins and does not seat players hierarchically; our practice reflects the belief that it is important to have a backbone of more experienced players throughout all the sections. The orchestra's size varies from concert to concert to reflect the repertoire and the capacity of the particular concert venue, therefore players are not necessarily invited to play for every event.

We continue to welcome new players either by recommendation or by players contacting us directly.  There are no auditions; players are initially invited to come along to one or two rehearsals to see whether we are a good fit for each other!  After this, new players may be invited to join the orchestra for a future concert.

HCO enjoys working with a range of conductors, each of whom bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to work with us.  Rehearsals are positive and purposeful and are characterised by an atmosphere that is both friendly and mutually encouraging. They balance the orchestra's ambition to develop and improve its performance with an inclusive outlook wherein commitment and determination to succeed are as valued attributes as advanced skill and musicianship. We seek and expect challenge! The pay-off comes with the warm satisfaction of playing a part in performances of a high standard and from which our audiences derive great pleasure.

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