Letter from Luca Hughes-Piper, MUMS President 2020/21, on behalf of the MUMS Committee:
First, I just want to say that I hope you are keeping well. This unprecedented lockdown has been far from ideal, regardless of what year of study you were in. I really do hope that you are excited for what the next academic year will bring, however challenging the circumstances!
I would also like to thank the previous committee for carrying out their various respective roles during 2019/20. The atypical way in which the last academic year ended should in no way tarnish the outstanding jobs done by the committee. This year’s new student body aims to build upon the excellent jobs done last year. In this respect, I felt it right to keep you updated in the same way that the previous President would have done given what we know so far. I hope to share with you what we are currently planning for given the guidance provided, and how we as a society are going to move forwards with music making.
As you may be aware, MUMS is the largest entirely student-run music society in the country. With a diverse range of ensembles, MUMS have, in the past, been able to put on 50 concerts per year for the approximately 500 members to take part in. However, when considering Semester 1 of this academic year, current COVID-19 guidance and restrictions (from both the Government and the University) simply will not facilitate the same number of concerts or even a strong diversity of performing ensembles.
Currently, a number of studies are being made globally into the transmission risks of various instrument families. Although non-conclusive, the majority suggest that singing and playing wind or brass instruments have the highest risk for COVID-19 transmission through airborne droplets. In relation to this, we are planning on focusing on smaller chamber ensembles for Semester 1, string and percussion only to begin with. The hope is that these ensembles will be able to safely rehearse in accordance with the measures required for a Covid-secure venue. Further possibilities we might consider, if and when conditions allow, include either livestreaming or making recordings available online.
On a more positive note, this circumstance has provided MUMS with the compelling opportunity to move more of our resources online. For example, we will be offering a unique, online Outreach training with an industry professional, and hope to encourage a number of musicians and alumni to lead online masterclasses and Q&A’s for MUMS members to take part in.
I would like to stress that should we receive new guidance on the evolving COVID-19 protocols, then we will take this on board and continue to plan appropriately and safely for as much music making as we can. The committee are also looking into many more avenues for performing such as external venues and outdoor performances, which are as of yet unconfirmed. I will keep you all updated on this when this is possible.
I hope that this statement has provided you with some form of clarity on where things stand for MUMS at present. As mentioned, the lines are always changing and we are trying to be as adaptable as possible to new regulations and guidelines, but the safety of our members is our highest priority. In a close second however is music making, so here’s to more of that!
President of MUMS