UNSW Orchestra String Ensemble with To Fan

Young man playing violin in an orchestra
To Fan playing with UNSW Orchestra

To Fan is in his second year of his Bachelor of Chemical Engineering. To is also a violinist and plays 1st Violin in UNSW Orchestra since 2019. Playing in an ensemble again in Term 3 has been an important milestone for To, reconnecting with his peers and finding joy in music.

UNSW Orchestra String Ensemble

The UNSW Orchestra String Ensemble was formed during the second half of 2020, providing an environment where string musicians of the UNSW Orchestra can continue playing while under the restriction of the COVID19 pandemic. The UNSW Orchestra String Ensemble focuses on string orchestra repertoire including Chacony by Henry Purcell and Elgar's Serenade for String Orchestra.


To Fan being awarded the Willgoss Instrumental Prize in 2019Reconnecting and Progressing

To play again as a violinist in the newly formed UNSW Orchestra String Ensemble meant I could continue to play my instrument in a group setting, to reconnect with this kind of instrument playing and cooperate with each other after a long 6-month hiatus.

Orchestral performance is one of the most enjoyable experiences in instrument playing and being able to experience that and see progress in our rehearsals again in the new string ensemble meant a lot to me.

Playing in this newly formed ensemble also has provided me a chance to experience the level of play and interaction in a small ensemble where clarity of your playing and interactions between different parts are emphasised. This special experience would benefit me in the future playing in an orchestra where more complex interactions between parts were common.


Barriers We Still Face

Due to restrictions, the woodwind, brass and percussion sections of the UNSW Orchestra are not able to return. I am looking forward to the return of the rest of UNSW Orchestra in the future when the restrictions ease. When the rest of the orchestra returns, I look forward to rehearsing and performing more complex and diverse repertoire.

While many university activities are able to move online, musical ensembles have only been able to do this with limited success. Video conference applications such as Google Classroom can facilitate collaboration with large groups, but the technology is not yet sophisticated enough to support a large group of musicians playing together without significant disruptions. If the restrictions continue into 2021, I hope that we find a viable solution for continuing rehearsals with the entire orchestra and find a way to host performances.