I hope you have had an enjoyable Christmas break. I am writing with some important notices.
As you will be aware, the incidence of COVID has increased over Christmas, and although the government in England has not taken compulsory measures to reduce the spread, we are all being asked to exercise caution.
The issue is not just our own risk of catching an infection, but of overwhelming the NHS (which for most of us is the real danger that Omicron represents, preventing non-COVID diagnoses and treatments). The orchestra has a responsibility to protect the NHS.
In view of this, the committee feels it is wisest to start the year with the AGM being held on zoom at 8pm this week, replacing the face to face rehearsal. A link will be sent for the zoom meeting in due course, and I hope you will all be willing to attend and support the orchestra. It will be a brief meeting, after which Simon will give us some practice pointers, and hopefully we can all do some private practice based on those.
 FUTURE REHEARSALS
We will then hope to go ahead with the scheduled face to face strings rehearsal next week, January 13th back at Bramshaw Village Hall. We hope to resume full rehearsals there on 20th January.
It is likely that we will need to wait until late January to confirm plans for the Spring concert.
 COVID PROTOCOLS FOR REHEARSALS
In order to keep each other safe, we all need to be continuing with regular lateral flow tests, so please keep these going. If you cannot get hold of a test because of shortages, I am afraid you will not be able to come to a rehearsal.
We are also being warned that cloth masks, and blue surgical ones, do not give the level of protection one would want from Omicron, and people are being recommended to have FN95 or N95 masks. Again, there will be shortages of these, but if you can only find paper or cloth masks, you will still be able to attend rehearsal with them. However please bear this warning in mind and ensure your masks fit correctly.
What with the increased mixing over Christmas and the shortage of lateral flow tests, it is prudent not to meet in person this week, while these issues are most likely to affect us. Over the next week, hopefully the shortage of tests will be overcome, and any infections caught as a result of increased mixing over Christmas will have come to light (the data lag today’s date by 1-3 weeks). The effect of returning to schools and universities will not be known until closer to the end of January. We will therefore monitor the situation carefully to protect each other and the NHS, whilst keeping our going with our community playing.
 YOUR ORCHESTRA NEEDS YOU
Please note the important note re roles:
- Orchestras need a committee of about 6 people, with a dozen more in supporting roles.
- For big orchestras of 50+ people, that means most people do not have to serve.
- However, in an orchestra of under 20 people, like ours, everyone needs to undertake a supporting role most of the time. And unless we have most of the orchestra serving a committee role at some time or another, the current committee will burn out.
- After the March concert, Andrew Row will step down as Concert Manager after serving wonderfully for many years in the role. Unless someone volunteers to replace him as Concert Manager at this coming AGM, we will not be able to do any more concerts, nor benefit from the associated ticket sales. Please note that Andrew will be available to help and support whoever takes over, and will also attend committee meetings to support the new Concert Manager. However the transition does need to begin at this coming AGM, so a volunteer is needed. Please think about whether you would be willing to take on this role, which could be shared with someone else if desired. Names, with a proposer and seconder, should be emailed to Caroline.
- Furthermore, we are all keenly aware of the need to recruit more players, and we need someone to take on the role of coordinating our recruitment activities (it is not a committee role).
Wishing you a Happy New Year and sending Best wishes