Being responsible for national events at the MU, I attended the Union’s inaugural Orchestra Section Conference today at the Wesley Hotel, Euston Street, London NW1. I had helped the MU Orchestral Dept in organising the event and arrived at the venue yesterday with a considerable set of print, digital and merchandise materials. Rising at 5.30am, I joined my colleague Angie Weiss in setting up the various rooms and ensuring the audio/visual facilities were all in place and fully-working. I remained responsible for the digital elements of the event throughout the day, whilst my colleague Maddy Radcliff published highlights of the proceedings on Twitter.
The morning session consisted of the Section’s AGM and involved Bill Kerr, (National Organiser – Orchestras) and other senior officials reporting to the membership on the activities of the Section during the previous twelve months. After lunch, the Conference kicked off at 1.30pm and a packed room witnessed three sessions centred on the themes of ‘Sustainable orchestras – securing the future’, ‘Low pay’, and ‘Working for longer’. Panellists included Mark Pemberton (Director of the ABO), John Summers (Chief Executive of the Halle Concerts Society), James Murphy (MD, Southbank Sinfonia), Bill Tamkin (Honorary Physician to the Halle), Andrew Connolly (General Manager of the BBC Concert Orchestra), alongside eminent MU members Cath Arlidge, Nickie Dixon, Ken Knussen, Helena Nicholls, Dave Lee, Alex Gascoine and Eileen Spencer, plus MU Officials Bill Kerr and Dave Webster. A highly enjoyable and informative day.